Beyoncé’s Surprise Album Boosts Tidal, But Is Exclusivity Good For Streaming?

Beyoncé dropped her new album ‘Lemonade’ almost out of nowhere on Saturday and follows Kanye West and Rihanna as an exclusive on her husband’s streaming service.

In case you didn’t already know that Jay Z owned music streaming service Tidal, maybe the fact that close friends Kanye and Rihanna and now his wife Beyoncé have all sacrificed full releases to boost the music streaming service this year. A couple months after Kanye’s ‘The Life of Pablo’ dropped as a Tidal exclusive Beyoncé has dropped her second surprise album as a streaming exclusive.

Kanye’s release was a great boost to the service pushing it to the top of the Apple App Store and resulting in 3 million subscribers compared to the 1 million announced beforehand. After saying his album would “never never never be on Apple… You can only get it on Tidal” Kanye controversially released TLoP on other streaming services, including Apple Music.

Now Beyoncé’s release is a little different. For a start she hasn’t specifically announced her album will remain a Tidal exclusive forever – it’s also for sale on other sites, just not streaming. However once again Tidal is being pushed into the limelight thanks to an artist’s exclusivity, moving up to number 12 on the Apple App Store whereas it wasn’t listed in the charts in the weeks before.

Unfortunately for Tidal this method seems to be a short term solution to drawing in customers that ends up alienating fans more than anything. Spotify have publicly spoken out against Tidal’s use of exclusives to force fans to use their service to hear artists they love. Global head of communication at Spotify, Jonathan Prince said: “We believe long-term exclusives are bad for artists and they’re bad for fans… Artists want as many fans as possible to hear their music, and fans want to hear the music they’re excited about – exclusives get in the way of both.”

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 30: Usher, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Dead Mouse, Kanye West, Jay Z, Jason Aldean, Jack White, Daft Punk, Beyonce and Win Butler attend the Tidal launch event #TIDALforALL at Skylight at Moynihan Station on March 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images For Roc Nation)
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 30: Usher, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Dead Mouse, Kanye West, Jay Z, J Cole, Jason Aldean, Jack White, Daft Punk, Beyonce and Win Butler at the Tidal launch event (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images For Roc Nation)

Tidal’s star studded backing and close relationship with artists has helped it secure high-profile album exclusivity with a number of artists. Unfortunately for Tidal it seems that these exclusives are providing more bad press than new users. One Kanye fan is even going so far as to try and sue Kanye West and Tidal for convincing him to subscribe for his exclusive album then releasing it elsewhere a month later.

Since the release of Beyoncé’s new album many critics have praised it for it’s experimental sound and deep, personal lyrics. Some of the songs, if autobiographical, suggest all may not be too cushty in the Jay Z-Bey household – potentially it wasn’t her idea to release Lemonade exclusively? Or perhaps Beyoncé wanted to help her husband out, it’s conjecture. Either way we will have to see if Beyoncé pulls a Kanye or not, for the sake of her fans I hope she does.

Writing about music, listening to music, and occasionally playing music.

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