Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

The Tidal wave goes out for Yeezy

Naturally, you can hear “The Life Of Pablo” in places other than just the much maligned artist-owned streaming service

Yeezy and the other Tidal directors queue up for coffee and croissants in the canteen

Wed, Feb 17, 2016, 08:30


While you were sleeping, Kanye West gave up. Sort of. Here’s what a partial surrender looks like

Over the last few days, ever since West premiered new album “The Life of Pablo” with a blowout and fashion show in Madison Square Gardens, he has been insisting that fans will only be able to hear the new album on Tidal, the high fidelity streaming service of which he owns a chunk, along with other high profile artists. If you scroll through the dozens of tweets from West over the last few days – some of them quite disturbing, some of them quite ridiculous – you’ll find a few refering to this decision. Here’s an example

This morning, in a throwback to a different world when this used to be the norm, West is streaming 30 second snippets of the new album on his site in an effort to convince fans to sign up to Tidal to hear the full thing. U2 used to do that sort of thing and we know how that one worked out. In the case of West, this is an attempt to woo fans who’ve so far decided to give the bums rush to Tidal.

Unless you’re a meglomaniac rapper, the reasons for this are fairly straightforward to comprehend. These same fans may already be signed up to Spotify (where all of West’s previous albums are available) or Apple Music (ditto). These same fans may not want to sign up to another streaming service, especially one whose every move seems to be a mis-step and which is viewed in many quarters as the pampered indulgence of rich rock stars. These same fans may still want to hear the album because this is what fans do.

So these same fans have started to pirate the album. This is also a throwback to a different world, a different time, a different age. Torrentfreak reported yesterday that the release of the album behind Tidal’s walled garden has sparked a huge rise over on BitTorrent, Piracy Bay and other purveyors of nefarious content. For instance, “after the first day an estimated 500,000 people have already grabbed a copy” on BitTorrent. I can’t find any West tweets about this, but I’d say he’s fuming. Those damn ungrateful fans not giving him his paper.

As a result, West is in a bit of a pickle. He obviously wants people to hear the music and, judging by his talk about debts, he obviously needs fans to buy the damn thing too. But it’s clear that these same fans have no intention of signing up to a new music service in order to do so, especially when those who are on Tidal encountered problems getting their hands on the album after paying for it.

The audience have spoken and they’re just not interested. Sure, the hardcore fans have gone Tidal crazy, but that’s not enough. Even when you’re a megastar with a big mouth, a huge ego and some fantastic ideas, you need the wider casual audience to come along for the ride. In this case, the audience have said no.

It will be interesting to see where West goes from here with this one. Perhaps there’ll be another album rushed out quickly to appear in all the different streaming shop windows to make up for the fact that “The Life of Pablo” masterplan has just not worked. Let’s hope the next one is finished – apparently the artist is still tinkering with the album which must be welcome news to those who’ve reviewed the unfinished album and those who’ve already paid good money for the work-in-progress album.