Kanye West's Tidal unique might harm each him and his followers

Kanye West's Tidal exclusive could hurt both him and his fans

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Pictures

Kanye West spent the weeks main as much as the launch of his lengthy-awaited new album going wild on Twitter. He concurrently reaffirmed his runaway ego and in addition gave an inside take a look at his thought course of as he finalized The Lifetime of Pablo earlier than its Valentine’s Day launch. Album titles modified at will and West regularly added and dropped songs. He took so lengthy to complete issues up that he missed the promised February twelfth launch date.

No matter you consider West, he is an artist. Even when his character or songs flip you off, he is one of the crucial artistic and profitable musicians of the final decade. That makes his cussed insistence on making The Lifetime of Pablo a Tidal unique much more puzzling, as a result of he is placing his stake within the music streaming service over his artwork. Each West and his followers will possible endure for the choice.

When The Lifetime of Pablo arrived early within the morning on February 14th, you can both purchase it for $20 direct from West’s web site or stream it on Tidal; for the primary week, that may be the one solution to hear the album. In some ways, it was a standard launch. It isn’t unusual for one streaming service to have exclusives today.

Provided that West is one in every of Tidal’s excessive-profile artist buyers, making the album an unique was an apparent selection. Certainly, exclusives like this from the corporate’s artist roster (which incorporates large attracts like Rihanna, Madonna, Coldplay and extra) are a key a part of Tidal’s technique. And in case you’re a Kanye fan who did not need to change from Spotify, you possibly can simply shell out some money and purchase the album outright. Everybody wins.

Kanye’s album went “gold” in piracy circles earlier than the week was even out.

However lower than a day later, West proclaimed on Twitter that you simply’d by no means be capable of purchase his new album or get it by way of Apple. Tidal turned the one strategy to hear it, a daring transfer for such a excessive-profile launch. The web responded simply as you’d anticipate: The Lifetime of Pablo shot to the highest of The Pirate Bay’s record of most-downloaded albums. Earlier this week, Torrent Freak estimated that the album was downloaded greater than 500,000 occasions in just some days. Primarily, the album went “gold” in piracy circles earlier than the week was even out.

My album won’t ever by no means by no means be on Apple. And it’ll by no means be on the market… You’ll be able to solely get it on Tidal.

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 15, 2016

For comparability, West’s 2013 album Yeezus bought 327,000 copies in its first week on sale. That was the worst first week for any of his albums, however given the slowdown in album gross sales throughout the business, it was nonetheless a robust launch. West’s profile has solely risen since then; it isn’t exhausting to think about that he might match or exceed such gross sales figures this day trip.

Finally, West is simply making it more durable for his followers to listen to his music.

On one hand, you can give West credit score for leaving gross sales on the desk to push Tidal ahead. On the opposite, he made it more durable for his followers to get their arms on his new music. Even his largest followers aren’t more likely to change streaming providers for one album, regardless of how a lot he begs them to on Twitter. As an alternative, it seems to be like loads of individuals turned to piracy as an alternative, or they could not have heard the album in any respect.

So pleased to be completed with the most effective album of all time pic.twitter.com/JBWa8OWvqw

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 25, 2016

Certainly, if West really believes he made the most effective albums of all time, you’d assume he’d need to make it as straightforward as attainable for followers to get it. Promote CDs, promote data, promote it on iTunes and Amazon. Positive, stream it solely on Tidal if you need, however do not minimize everybody else out of the equation. West compromised the supply of his artwork for the sake of making an attempt to push the struggling Tidal service ahead. And it labored, for a bit: Tidal was on prime of the iOS app retailer’s free charts this week. However it’s already slipping again down the record. We’ll have to attend and see if West’s unique had any impression on Tidal’s general subscriber numbers. However I would not be stunned if he ultimately relents and provides The Lifetime of Pablo a wider launch. In any case, he modified his thoughts on the album’s title like 3 times in every week.

Nathan is a senior editor at Engadget and was previously an editor at The Verge. A semi-current San Francisco resident by means of Boston, Nathan covers Google, gaming, apps and providers (particularly music), bizarre web tradition and rather more. He’ll evaluation nearly any odd piece of hardware that comes his method. In his spare time, Nathan enjoys the superior meals SF has to supply and loves taking pictures round northern California.