Et tu, Kanye?
It seems that the music game as a whole is moving away from streaming exclusives. With the exception of Jay-Z, who actually owns a streaming service himself, artists have collectively determined that holding out on their fans is no way to make money in the weird, ever-shifting landscape of digital record sales.
So it should come as no surprise that Kanye West, one of the biggest-selling artists out now, would want out of his exclusivity deal with Tidal — the service headed up by his friend/mentor/big brother Jay-Z. Last month, his lawyers sent letters to the company stating that West was owed over $3 million in royalties due to the popularity of his The Life Of Pablo album bringing in 1.5 million new subscribers. They also claim that he hasn’t been paid for the music videos that now live on the platform.
The letters requesting the back royalties were sent over a month ago, though — well before the release and even the announcement of 4:44, Jay’s new album that seems to take shots at Kanye. It’s highly doubtful that this is personal; it’s just that when business and personal collide, there is bound to be friction.
Interestingly, West and Jay have used music to clear the air at least a couple of other times, such as on “Big Brother” from Graduation, where Yeezy lamented Jay’s aloofness when it came to concert tickets and the elder rapper’s jacking of ideas. However, it would seem Kanye’s 20-minute rant at a sold out arena was a bridge too far.