Jay-Z Tells Spotify Where to Stuff His New Album

After releasing 4:44 exclusively on TIDAL, Jay Z has made the album available on Amazon and Apple Music. He completely avoided Spotify.

Jay Z has plenty of reasons to celebrate.  His critically-acclaimed album, 4:44, went platinum in less than a week, thanks mostly to Sprint.  Now, fans everywhere have a chance to listen to the album on all major streaming platforms.  Not Spotify, though.  The move may cost him dearly.

As part of TIDAL’s partnership with Sprint, Jay Z released 4:44 exclusively on the service.  Users could listen to the album, but only if they signed up for TIDAL before June 30.  After that, Sprint made the album available only for its customers.  It would eventually scoop up copies to offer as free downloads.

Sprint/TIDAL had hoped to push up subscriptions to the streaming platform.  The initial move, however, prompted fans and listeners to download the album illegally.  4:44 had the dubious honor of reaching nearly 1 million downloads on pirating networks in 72 hours.

A week after its release, the rapper made his album available on all major streaming platforms.  Starting today, fans who have an active subscription to Apple Music and Amazon Music can stream the album.  They could also download the album on iTunes.  The rapper didn’t drop 4:44 on Spotify.

Jay Z’s feud with Spotify: it’s just business

Jay Z’s notable decision to block 4:44 from streaming stems from a bigger fight against the Swedish streamer.  Just three months ago, the rapper/businessman pulled his entire catalog from the streaming service.  Services such as Spotify, he claimed, failed to properly compensate artists.  He purchased TIDAL several years ago with the hopes of offering a high-fidelity streaming platform that fairly compensates artists.  He presented Rihanna and Alicia Keys as co-owners of the company back in 2015, among others including Jack White, Daft Punk, and Madonna.

Jay Z’s decision to pull his album may have also been to push his fans towards the streaming platform.  He believed that his star power would immediately drive up paid subscriptions.  Following through with this business plan, his wife, Beyonce, dropped Lemonade exclusively on TIDAL.  His former partner, Kanye West, also released The Life of Pablo on the platform.

The numbers paint a bleak picture for the streamer

The move has yet to prove successful.  As of May 2016, the streamer had only three million paid subscribers.  Kanye West claimed that he only brought in 1.5 million new subscriptions. For offering his album exclusively on TIDAL, West lost millions.

TIDAL has also lost a lot of money.  Last year, the company lost roughly $28 million. A separate report also suggests that the company may have created fake accounts to inflate subscription numbers.

The decision to pull his albums from Spotify may not only have cost the service much-needed revenue; it may cost him fans and popularity among the next generation of fans.

No Spotify means the next generation won’t know Jay Z

In a recently published study, Edison Research found that among those aged 12 to 24, only 11% had heard of TIDAL.  In addition, TIDAL failed to rank among the most-used streaming services.  The least-used streaming platform, TuneIn, had a 3% share, alongside NPR One.  Pandora and Spotify ranked among the most used services.

Edison Research also found that those aged 12 to 24 listened to more streaming platforms during the week.  In a surprising turn, the Gen Z demographic jumped ship from former streaming king Pandora to Spotify.  The study also shows that the Gen Z demographic have all-but-ignored TIDAL; the service failed once again to rank in the list.

In addition, a separate study published by entertainment app Episode Interactive shows that less than 1% of those aged 13 to 25 used TIDAL for music streaming.  The Gen Z demographic preferred listening to YouTube (51%), Spotify (30%), and Apple Music (11%).  Physical albums (3%) were more popular than Jay Z’s service.

So, what’s next?

Spotify has yet to comment on the matter.  Jay Z has also yet to issue an official statement clarifying why he didn’t offer up the album on Spotify.

Should these business moves continue, fans may see the rapper’s star power decline sooner than expected. As previously stated, Jay Z’s streaming platform will need a successful business model, not one solely dependent on big names to remain afloat.

Image by Penn State (CC by 2.0)

5 Responses

  1. Me

    “Services such as Spotify, he claimed, failed to properly compensate artists.”

    Meanwhile, we haven’t seen a dime from Tidal for 2017. Has anybody else not received any payment from the Service?

  2. Anonymous

    Jay Z’s market is an older generation. He would have been better off restricting his album entirely to CD sales rather than just keeping it off Spotify. With fewer and fewer exclusions on Spotify, it feels like it’s just going to be easier to pirate the occasional album rather than jump ship just for one artist’s exclusive. These moves just make the artist seem out of touch. Taylor Swift gets it. Jay Z just sounds like a grump old man.

  3. Dotness

    This is the most foolish article I have read in quite a while. This article supports a construct and company (Spotify) that rips artists off. Tidal had 1.5 million new subscribers at 9.99 or 19.99 a month? That alone is 100’s of millions in annual revenue. 3 million subscribers in total? Jay Z would be a fool to support Spotify. If Tidal lost 28 million does it matter if the artist received their proper share? Multiple aritst’s own Tidal, therefore; it would behoove the artist’s to support the company operating at a loss when it results in larger royalties or compensation per album sold.