Tidal site soars on Beyonce album exclusive

Tidal has soared in popularity since Beyonce released her album Lemonade, the subscription streaming service is led by her husband, rap mogul Jay Z.
Tidal has soared in popularity since Beyonce released her album Lemonade, the subscription streaming service is led by her husband, rap mogul Jay Z. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK • Subscription streaming service Tidal has soared in popularity since Beyonce released her album Lemonade on it as an exclusive late last Saturday, before making it available for sale on iTunes on Monday.

The service, led by her husband, rap mogul Jay Z, jumped from No. 23 to be the most downloaded music app in the United States, according to tracking service App Annie. It is also No. 1 in Britain.

A Tidal spokesman said the service would have the exclusive streaming version of Lemonade "in perpetuity". On Sunday, it announced that it would be selling a version for download at US$17.99 (S$24.30).

Beyonce has released the album for digital sale on iTunes, but she has kept it off streaming sites, including Apple Music and Spotify, which posted a message promising subscribers it hoped to make the album available "soon".

As a partner in Tidal - which her husband bought over a year ago for US$56 million and reintroduced as an artist-friendly alternative to Spotify - she faced a strong incentive to release the album exclusively through that outlet, to draw attention to the service and attract subscribers to it.

Yet with Tidal claiming just three million subscribers, she would risk alienating the vast majority of the online market if she were to keep the album on that service alone for too long. Spotify has 30 million paying subscribers and Apple Music has 11 million.

After months of struggles, including the troubled release of Rihanna's latest album, Anti, the streaming service released The Life Of Pablo by Kanye West, another partner, in February, which it said brought in 250 million streams in 10 days, and held on to its exclusive for nearly two months.

And the last week has been a big one for Tidal. In addition to Beyonce's release, the service was the only streaming outlet that had the complete catalogue of Prince, who died unexpectedly last Thursday.

On Friday, a new album is expected by Drake, who for much of the last year released most of his music through Apple Music first, before releasing it more widely after about a week. Exclusivity, it seems, is as flexible as the music business, and its biggest stars need it to be.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2016, with the headline 'Tidal site soars on Beyonce album exclusive'. Print Edition | Subscribe