Once again, Tidal is making waves for all of the wrong reasons.
Yesterday, several sources reported that a Tidal subscriber and Kanye West fan is attempting to sue the Jay Z approved streaming service and Kanye himself over the release of his latest album, The Life of Pablo.
From the Associated Press: “The proposed class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco by Justin Baker-Rhett contends West fraudulently promised fans that his album would only be available on Tidal. The site charges users at least $9.99 a month, but West's album has since been released for free on Apple Music and Spotify.”
This is the second lawsuit that Tidal is facing this year. The first was when New York-based rock band The American Dollar went at the service for allegedly failing to pay proper royalties, which is a direct contradiction to what Tidal is supposed to be all about: taking care of its artists.
Now, before we all jump to conclusions, let's make it known that Tidal has yet to be found guilty of any wrongdoings or mistreatments. However, that fact doesn't make any of this controversy any less funny than it already is.
I mean, this is hilarious. Straight up COMEDY, if not karmic rebuttal.
Why? Because this is exactly what Jay Z and friends get for shooting their mouths off about free streaming platforms in the first place. Dude went on a huge tirade about how the public feels entitled to free music and how that disenfranchises artists when we use the free version of Spotify instead of paying for downloads and stuff like that.
He's not exactly wrong about the sense of entitlement to free things, but to rail against Spotify about that is just plain eg-no-ra-moose.
Spotify's website describes in detail how musicians receive royalties when they allow their music to be streamed. It involves a lot contract arbitration and play counts, so some artists may make more money than others by utilizing the platform. That doesn't change the fact that everyone receives some amount of payment from it.
If Jay wanted to crusade for artist compensation, he should do so against piracy and torrenting, because that's where he and the record companies are losing the most money.
But why do that when you can charge people $20 a month for “high fidelity” sound quality when they most likely can't tell any difference because their listening to the music from their laptop speakers? Simple: because he's a business, man.
As for the TLOP lawsuit, Baker-Rhett makes a strong case. One that he probably won't win, but a strong case nonetheless. Tidal greatly benefitted from the “exclusivity” of the album, as millions of people subscribed to it when they found out they can't hear Pablo anywhere else.
I honestly thought about subscribing for a minute – a MINUTE – before reminding myself that I'm poor and should save my money to buy cheap tacos for dinner. Anyway, no sane person would have subscribed to Tidal if they knew Kanye was just going to release it elsewhere from jump street.
It's a solid business strategy that saved Tidal from massive failure for now, but an untruth. An untruth that may lead to it's ultimate downfall in the future once people start using YouTube to MP3 converters again. And when it all falls down ... well, you know the rest.
Maybe Kanye and Tidal should have taken a note from Drake, who's releasing his album exclusively on Apple Music, but only for the first week. It'll be a pain for people who don't have an Apple subscription, but at least they won't be too upset for long.
That's good news for Drake, because hell hath no fury like a fan scorned.
For real, remember when LeBron left Cleveland back in 2010? How much you wanna bet people putting ketchup on a pair of Yeezy's right now?