It seems that things aren’t all fun and games over at Tidal right now. In fact, one might say the executives at the music streaming service are having a heck of a bad Friday. The same day that Jay-Z’s album “4:44” left Tidal exclusivity, a heavy promoter of the streaming music service, Kanye West, has cut his ties with the company, according to AppleInsider.
What’s Going On With Tidal, Kanye West and the Music Industry?
When Tidal first hit the scene, I was a pretty big fan of the service. At the time, Tidal was the first streaming music service to offer up uncompressed songs. That meant much better audio quality than anybody else could offer. Tidal also managed to ink some pretty great exclusivity deals with popular artists.
The company was relaunched by Jay-Z in 2016, owned and operated by the likes of Kanye West, Beyonce, Daft Punk, Alicia Keys, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Chris Martin, Rihanna, Usher, Jack White, and others. The minority owners helped boost the service’s popularity by offering windowed exclusives on albums, keeping them only on Tidal for a short period before making the albums more widely available.
Then Sprint stepped in, and bought up 33 percent of Tidal’s ownership. We also learned that Tidal had been inflating its subscriber totals, having just 350,000 subscribers at a time when Jay-Z claimed the streaming music service had hit the million-user mark.
The Current State of Affairs at Tidal
Things are getting even shadier over at Tidal. Jay-Z’s latest album, “4:44,” has been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). However, the way that happened does really mean a million listeners acquired and listened to it. See, Sprint bought one million copies of the album to give away to subscribers. That’s pretty shady, in my opinion, and turns the record industry’s means of recognizing album popularity into a game.
Now, what about Tidal, Kanye West, and music in general? The champion of the phrase, “I’mma let you finish, but …” is apparently unhappy with how things are going in his relationship with Tidal, and he wants out. West claims Tidal is in breach of contract with him, owing the artist $3 million in payouts.
Tidal, for its part, has allegedly threatened to sue West for failing to deliver music videos. The whole mess has resulted in the artist terminating Tidal’s exclusivity rights to future music, according to a source close to West.
Is That Enough Drama for You?
It’s more than enough for me. This is proof positive that the music industry, at least the mainstream component of it, has become a numbers game. It’s no longer about providing great art to the masses. It’s about making the most money, and engaging in cutthroat and unethical practices to make things appear better than they are.
I hope the music industry is watching this rift between Tidal, Kanye West, and good ethics in general. Artists and music outlets need to stop trying to rip each other off, and focus on what makes music truly great — the relationship between fans and musicians.