Jay-Z (the hyphen is back, right?) dropped his new album, 4:44, (aka Lemonade 2: Yep, I Fucked Around On Her) this week. In addition to utilizing his shaky marriage to keep the millions rolling in, 4:44 also addresses the state of his friendship and business partnership with former frequent collaborator and eternally stressed-out rapper, Kanye West. In an onstage rant near the end of his last (prematurely cancelled) tour, he went off on Jay, Beyonce, and their music streaming service Tidal. Kanye has a financial stake in it. Jay-Z alludes to this situation in one of the tracks on 4:44 and not in a positive way (unless describing someone as “insane“ is a friendly gesture).
In a move that has reminded me that Tidal is still very much a thing, Jay Z has pulled his entire catalog from Spotify. Billboard reports that Jay Z picked up all his songs, The Bodyguard-style, and whispered “Come on, let’s go home” sometime on April 7th.
Billboard says that if you now search for Jay Z on Spotify, it will gurgle up two lonely album results, both collaborations with R Kelly, and five collaboration singles. Billboard reached out to Jay Z and Spotify and only Spotify got back to them. Spotify confirmed that Jay Z put in a request to pull most of his songs.
The Verge says that Jay Z also yanked his catalog off Apple Music. However that choice wasn’t meant to last; a few days later, it came back. Apple had no comment regarding Jay Z’s take-backs. I’d say Jay Z changed his mind after receiving a bitchy text from Kanye West, but let’s face it – Jay Z probably blocked his number months ago. Beyonce still has music on Spotify and Apple Music.
Jay Z launched Tidal in 2015, so this catalog situation seems like something that should have been done back then. I don’t know why Jay Z waited so long to make his music so limited. Maybe he’s trying to legitimately boost Tidal’s subscriber numbers? It doesn’t make sense. If he wanted to get some new Tidal subscribers, he should have picked a more exclusive and rare catalogue to add. I’ve already heard The Blueprint III. What I really want is the entire debut album from Sylk.
Just like a desperate dad trying to get rid of a pair of dust-covered cross-country skis, Jay Z has managed to find someone willing to drop some cash into the allegedly bottomless financial pit that is Tidal. And sorry Kanye, but it’s not Apple.
A source tells Billboard that Sprint acquired a 33% stake in Tidal for $200 million. Based solely on what I’ve picked up from watching Shark Tank, that means that Tidal is valued at $600 million. For perspective, Jay Z bought Tidal for $56 million.
The details of the deal are that Sprint will own 33% and Jay Z and the two-dozen artist-owners will own the rest. Tidal will now become available for Sprint’s customers, and the two companies will partner for exclusive releases. Sprint’s CEO Marcelo Claure will join Jay Z on Tidal’s board of directors. Jay Z released a statement on the sale:
“Sprint shares our view of revolutionizing the creative industry to allow artists to connect directly with their fans and reach their fullest, shared potential. Marcelo understood our goal right away and together we are excited to bring Sprint’s 45 million customers an unmatched entertainment experience.”
This isn’t the first time Sprint showed an interest in Tidal. A few weeks after Tidal’s huge launch in 2015, Sprint denied a rumor that they had purchased a stake in the company.
I don’t know if this is a good financial move or a bad one. But I can say that Sprint’s partial-purchase of Tidal is great news for pun-lovers. I can already see the headlines about Marcelo Claure waking up to yet another Tidal lawsuit and sprint-ing to his accountant to see if it’s possible to get a $200 million refund.
Jay Z already has a pretty big pile of lawsuits sitting on his desk in his office at Tidal HQ. There are lawsuits from artists who claim they haven’t been paid by Tidal and a lawsuit that Jay Z was reportedly going to file against Tidal’s former owners. Now Page Six is saying that he’s in possession of a lawsuit from the late Prince’s estate for allegedly doing Prince dirty, business-wise, after his death.
Ever since Tidal’s grand launch last year, it’s been hit with shit news after shit news and it looks like it’s been living up to its name by turning out to be a disaster.
It was reported that Tidal let go of its CEO and 25 employees and later pink-slipped even more employees. It was also reported that Jay-Z was about to sue Tidal’s previous owners for inflating the number of subscribers they claimed they had. And now a business newspaper from Norway, where Tidal has offices, says that the streaming service that was supposed to drown Spotify lost millions of dollars last year. We all knew shit was probably not going to go well for Tidal when Madge put her knee on the table and sprawled herself out while signing some kind of contract during its weird launch. That was a bad, bad omen.