Lemonade hit the Internet minutes after Beyonce’s HBO special of the same name aired. It’s her sixth studio album and first since 2013’s celebrated, Beyonce. Exclusive streaming releases are normally a week long venture for most artists. The question was; does Tidal have the power to sell her album to her millions of fans? Let’s not forget that she and hubby own the lion’s share of Tidal. She also had the option of selling it on Beyonce.com or on Tidal’s direct competitor, iTunes.
Well now it seems that the exclusive sales of Lemonade on Tidal is open to all not just Tidal subscribers. Tidal announced the record and the HBO film are now available for download worldwide for $17.99. Those who pick up the album also get 90 days of free streaming from Tidal. This deal should appeal to Beyonce fans who are understandably hesitant about signing up for Tidal.
However, according to a New York Times reports the album quickly became available on iTunes just 24 hours later. Tidal’s exclusive rights quickly expired but only for the sale of the album. Tidal is still the only place to stream the album. So, back to that question, is Tidal powerful enough to distribute the music of Beyonce exclusively? It does not seem so and Beyonce knows it.
Lets face it; Beyonce is as much a businesswoman as a performer. Tidal’s brief exclusive deal is a direct reflection of the complex, fragmented, tumultuous and generally disliked digital music business. Beyonce’s power and presence in the music industry is the guide for many in the business. Her decision to offer the release to Tidal makes it possible to satisfy her business interests there and then quickly expand her reach to other fans in the market. It was delicate balancing act but she pulled it off beautifully.
Things are not so smooth at Tidal nor have they ever been. Since Jay-Z acquired the service it has seen numerous departures of top executives, bad business decisions and even lawsuits. Right now Kanye West, one of Tidal’s biggest stars, is facing a class action lawsuit. A fan launched the suit claiming that a Kanye tweet deceived millions into buying subscriptions to Tidal.
The rapper and part owner of Tidal tweeted “My album will never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale … You can only get it on Tidal.” The announcement doubled subscriptions to Tidal. But it appears West flipped the script and “The Life Of Pablo” became available on Spotify and Apple Music.
According to the lawsuit West’s tweet tricked millions of users into signing up for Tidal. By signing up for the service users surrendered important personal information including email addresses and credit card details. In addition others paid the $9.99 per month subscription fee to access the album. The lawsuit charges that Tidal unfairly benefited to the tune of $84 million dollars as a result of the deceptive tweet.