Here’s a tweet Kanye sent out a little while ago.
My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal.
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 15, 2016
I shouldn’t have to tell you that this is a bad idea.
I don’t know what the motivation behind such a maneuver is or could possibly be, but whatever it is can not possibly outweigh what should be his number one consideration: the fans. The simple fact is, people want to be able to listen to their music within whatever streaming ecosystem they prefer. Be it Apple Music, Amazon, TIDAL, Spotify, or downloaded as mp3s on their phone, whatever. The average listener is all out of fucks to give about the epic battle these corporations are waging over supremacy in the digital music space. We just want to be able to stream and download what we want to stream and download, easily.
This exclusive access shit is quite frankly, for the birds. The fact that one service has the exclusive rights to stream the music of one particular artist isn’t going to make the majority of people sign up for that service. TIDAL and Apple Music, two of the biggest offenders in this exclusive access standoff, are both products that have been on the market for several months now. I could be wrong, but I feel like most people have made up their minds at this point and I can’t see the availability one artist’s catalog swaying them.
For all of their money, knowledge and supposed expertise in this field, these companies don’t seem to understand that these walled gardens they are creating just promote bootlegging and piracy. If I was going to guess, I’d say Kanye is doing this to help out his Big Brother Jay’s company, which some would argue has struggled somewhat in its first year or so of operation. The other factor could be that he owns some stake in TIDAL so he’ll presumably be seeing a bigger portion of proceeds from what would surely be an enormous amount of streams.
But the college kid who is busting his ass at H&M or McDonald’s everyday and then forking over a portion of his hard earned money to Spotify and Apple doesn’t necessarily want to fork over more money to yet another service with a very similar catalog. That kid is just gonna download a zip file of the album and be done with it.
And you can say that person isn’t a true fan, or they should go out of their way to support or whatever, but that’s bullshit. This business is a two way street. Artists succeed at the pleasure of their fans, plain and simple. I’m using Kanye’s tweet as an example here (he might have changed his mind while I was writing this), but this is something all artists need to consider. Fans spend money we have earned to enjoy and support these artists, I feel like the least the artists can do is make it as easy as possible for us to do so.
UPDATED: Here’s an interesting passage from Torrentfreak on how much the album has been bootlegged:
TorrentFreak has been keeping a close eye on the popularity of the album on BitTorrent and after the first day an estimated 500,000 people have already grabbed a copy.
The album is currently leading The Pirate Bay’s list of most shared music torrents by a landslide. At the time of writing close to 10,000 people were sharing a copy of the most popular torrent simultaneously, something we haven’t seen with a music release before.
Previously: Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo Has Arrived