5710847832_c0e776e399_mAccording to an early report by TMZ (http://www.tmz.com/2016/02/23/kanye-west-album-tidal-subscriptions/ ), since Kanye West released his newest album “Life of Pablo” exclusively on Tidal, Jay Z’s “artist-friendly” music streaming service, the number of Tidal subscribers has increased from around 1 million to 2.5 million. According to this same report, the album itself has already been streamed “millions” of times. This report is preliminary, as Tidal has yet to release official numbers, and does not tell us everything we want to know – such as how many of these subscribers have actually paid and how many are merely on a free trial. Yet, however early these numbers are, they are incredibly encouraging for a music streaming service thought doomed for the periphery. The estimated 2.5 million is significantly less than Apple Music’s 11 million subscribers and even less than Spotify’s 27 million subscribers. However, this experiment with Kanye has shown that exclusive deals with artists could be a way for Tidal to get “in” with the average music listener.

The viability of this strategy, whether this was a Kanye-fluke or an actual market trend, can only be confirmed by official figures from Tidal and by time. A big question will be whether the release of Rihanna’s “ANTI” was able to boost subscriber numbers to the same degree as “Life of Pablo,” though considering the botched release (http://www.newsweek.com/how-rihanna-anti-roll-out-botched-tidal-421051 ) of “ANTI” the answer seems likely no. While Kanye’s Tidal-only release has been met with widespread controversy (http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-kanye-west-album-controversy-20160218-story.html ) in the music industry, it seems that, at least for Tidal, all Kanye press is good press.

Learn more about the story here: http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2016/02/24/tidal-subscriber-numbers-surge-after-exclusively-releasing-kanyes-album/

Jennifer Marr is an Entertainment and Sports Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current first year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2018).

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