NEW YORK • The surprise release of a new Rihanna single, Work, went smoothly on Wednesday morning as the song shot to the top of iTunes charts in dozens of countries. But by 7pm, what appeared to be her entire eighth album, Anti, had leaked online, another misstep in an already fraught rollout.
The 13 songs first appeared, apparently by mistake, on Jay Z's streaming service, Tidal. (She is signed to the rapper's management company and label Roc Nation.)
Tidal took down the page for the album in its store, but fans were able to save the music, with one even posting clips on Twitter. Before long, mp3s of her first album in more than three years were being shared widely and illegally.
The much-anticipated Anti was rumoured for release by the end of the week after months of delays. BBC Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills said on air that it would likely "be out in a few days" after he played Work, a pop-dancehall collaboration with Drake, on Wednesday.
On Twitter, after the song's debut, Rihanna called it the first single from Anti, although three tracks preceded it last year.
In January last year, there was FourFiveSeconds with Kanye West and Paul McCartney, which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, followed by Bitch Better Have My Money in March (No. 15) and American Oxygen (No. 78) the next month.
Those songs, coupled with Rihanna's consistent release schedule in the past, had listeners thinking an album was imminent. It never came. (The version of Anti that leaked on Wednesday did not include any of the singer's releases from last year.)
Last October, she announced the album title and revealed the cover at an art gallery party in Los Angeles. An extended interactive advertising campaign for Anti, sponsored by Samsung, followed, as did the announcement of a world tour, which begins on Feb 26.
Rihanna signed a deal reported to be worth US$25 million (S$35.7 million) with Samsung, which set up an Anti interactive website accessible on its smartphones.
Tidal said Samsung users who used the website would be able to download Anti and receive a two-month free trial of the streaming service.
NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE