Jay Z heated the streaming wars on Friday, wiping his music from Tidal’s biggest competitors before quickly returning to Apple, but not Spotify…
Jay Z’s music streaming service Tidal has stagnated since it’s launch 2 years ago, struggling to stand out amongst it’s more successful rivals despite it’s celebrity backing and premium audio quality offerings. Jay Z must have had enough of hearing about Spotify and Apple Music’s continuous success as on Friday he removed his music from the services, whilst remaining on smaller services like Google Play Music and SoundCloud.
In a strange move Jay has since replaced most of his music on Apple Music, except for Reasonable Doubt and his Blueprint albums. Spotify meanwhile has been left short with only Jay’s collab albums with R. Kelly; The Best of Both Worlds and Unfinished Business, remaining on their service. It’s not clear whether this is a purposeful move yet but with 50+ million subscribers Spotify represents the largest obstacle to Tidal in terms of premium music streaming.
Whilst Jay Z has released new music exclusively on Tidal, like The Life of Pablo when first released and Beyoncé’s acclaimed Lemonade, this is the first time he’s removed previous releases from other services. It’s not clear whether this is a move to strengthen Tidal’s offering yet, especially since their Apple Music backtrack, and could instead involve Spotify’s recent deal with Universal (Jay Z’s label Roc-A-Fella’s parent label) that requires certain releases to be made Premium exclusive.
The deal between Spotify and Universal will allow Spotify to pay lower royalties which will help them move towards profitability, as the startup is still a lossmaker year-on-year. It was assumed that the deal would only apply to new releases for a limited time but with Jay Z’s catalog disappearance something much bigger could be at play. Whatever the case, there’s no way one of the world’s biggest rappers was removed from 2 of the world’s biggest streaming services by accident.