The release of Jay-Z’s new album ‘4.44’ as a Tidal/Sprint exclusive has created plenty of debate and controversy.
Just ask Mark Ronson, who was tweeting grumpily about trying (and failing) to hear the album after joining Tidal after the deadline to gain access to it.
“I signed up for Tidal solely to listen to a Jay Z album, which turns out is the only thing I can’t listen to on Tidal,” wrote Ronson. “I’ve. Bought. Every. Jay Z Album. The. Day. Of. Release. Usually. On. Vinyl. At. Rock N Soul Records.”
I signed up for Tidal solely to listen to a Jay Z album, which turns out is the only thing I can't listen to on Tidal pic.twitter.com/xp0Y0FP9EX
— Mark Ronson (@MarkRonson) June 30, 2017
Ronson later found a way to listen to the album and apologised for the tweets – “for 10 minutes, i was just an angry fan who couldn’t get an album i woke up at 7am to listen to… but sometimes i forget i’m a public persona or whatever and should keep it to myself” – but it also seems increasingly clear that ‘4.44’ won’t be a Tidal exclusive for that long.
Billboard reported this weekend that the album will be available on Apple Music and iTunes later this week, although there’s no news yet on Spotify and other services. “A source close to the project also said that a physical release is eventually planned, though no timetable has been set yet for that rollout…”
You could argue that failing to at least offer a physical release alongside a streaming exclusive is leaving money on the table.
However, as the co-owner of the service with the exclusive, Jay-Z is an outlier here: the recent investment in Tidal by Sprint plus the hoped-for uptick in Tidal signups means he’s unlikely to be fretting on money left on the table – even if annoying lifelong vinyl-buying Jay-Z fans like Ronson may be storing up trouble for the future.
Jay-Z may have trouble in the present to attend to first, mind. Celebrity-gossip website TMZ reported this weekend that Kanye West has terminated his contract with Tidal, alleging that the service owes him more than $3m relating to his ‘The Life of Pablo’ exclusive with the service.
“Our sources say Tidal’s position is that Kanye didn’t deliver the videos required by the contract. Kanye’s response… I’ll deliver the videos when you pay me what I’m owed,” reported TMZ, adding that Tidal is threatening to sue West if he signs up with a rival, with West just as willing to “sue them right back” in that eventuality.