Jay Z’s 4:44 Pirated 1 Million Times in Just 72 Hours

Proving the music industry has surpassed album exclusives, fans have pirated Jay Z’s 4:44 more than a million times.

To boost its fledging music service, Apple signed artists like Frank Ocean into timed album exclusive deals.  Fans could listen to these albums on Apple Music before it hit other streaming services like Spotify.  Jay Z quickly followed suit on his own TIDAL service with major names like Kanye West and Beyonce.  The music industry has moved on from album exclusives.  Yet, in an attempt to bolster his floundering service, Jay Z released 4:44 exclusively on TIDAL.  The move has proven successful, if you count the number of times people have pirated the album, that is.

Released exclusively on TIDAL on June 30, 4:44 has been illegally downloaded nearly a million times.  According to piracy monitoring specialist MUSO, people downloaded the album 971,196 times in seventy-two hours.  Popular piracy networks included The Pirate Bay.  The number has most likely surpassed one million downloads to date.

So, why have people chosen to pirate the album? The problem lies in Jay Z’s insistence on continuing with TIDAL-only album exclusives.  The heavily-restricted album limits fans’ ability to legally stream the music, and thus, help the music industry. Even worse, TIDAL limited the album to people who had subscribed to the service four days before its release.

In a recent piece analyzing Jay Z’s decision to release the album only on TIDAL, Digital Music News’ own Paul Resnikoff touched on the problem.  He wrote,

“[Album exclusives] piss off fans, and punish paying subscribers who are supporting the music industry.  They cause huge spikes in piracy (which means the money goes OUT of the industry’s pocket).”

Simply put, Jay Z’s proven star power hasn’t bolstered his failing streaming service.  Since his purchase two years ago, TIDAL only counts with 3 million paid subscriptions.  Most of those subscriptions may also be fake, according to multiple reports.

Kanye West recently slammed his former “Big Brother” for losing $3 million in sales on The Life of Pablo.  Sticking with TIDAL proved a poor business decision for West last year.  Even Snoop Dogg has admitted to having a friend pirate 4:44 on his behalf.

Rumors have since surfaced that Jay Z may offer 4:44 on other streaming services like Spotify.  Until then, the rapper’s poor TIDAL-only business decision will continue costing him, his service, and the music industry as a whole, a lot of money.  People will continue obtaining the critically-praised album on major piracy networks.

Image by Roger Gregory (CC by 2.0)

2 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Here’s a question… did Jay Z and his label make more money doing this Tidal exclusive than they would’ve made releasing the album to all services on day one? If the answer is yes, does it matter if it was pirated?

    I’m not in favor of service exclusives, but I would like to see more windowed-release format exclusives, like the movie industry does. Movies are typically first released in theaters, then blu-ray/permanent downloads, then rentals (iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, etc.) and then finally on streaming subscription services like Netflix. These movies see a ton of piracy during each window. Even theatrical releases aren’t immune to some guy bringing in a camera to a theater. However, movies still tend to make more money this way than they would’ve if they just released to Netflix to begin with, despite all the piracy.

    Why can’t we do the same with new album releases? Start with iTunes/Amazon MP3 downloads for a while, then release to streaming? Yes, it there will be more piracy, but there will also be legitimate users purchasing the tracks. Why should piracy dictate how we distribute music?