When Kanye West tweeted, “My album will never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal,” he probably never imagined that these words would come back to haunt him.
But haunt him they have, according to Billboard, listener Justin Baker-Rhett has taken issue with the claims of Tidal-only exclusivity to file a class action lawsuit in US. District Court in San Francisco, claiming the rapper and the streaming service engaged in “deceptive conduct” by baiting listeners into subscribing to Tidal by billing it as the only platform to hear West’s The Life Of Pablo album. It’s not the only Tidal-related dispute the combative artist has found himself caught up in, or even the only lawsuit involving West, but it is the one that stands to affect his pockets most directly.
As we all know, Pablo eventually enjoyed a wider release to multiple platforms, albeit with a laundry list of adjustments including changed lyrics, beats, and track list, which prompted the Chicago superstar to call it a “living breathing changing creative expression.”
That will be the basis of West’s defense, with his lawyers arguing that the version that exists on Tidal is a Tidal-only exclusive, while the other versions represent a completely different vision and therefore a different product. They have filed a counter argument that states “the original version of The Life Of Pablo, which debuted on Tidal in February 2016, was always exclusive to it. The versions of The Life Of Pablo that are available on other streaming services are different from the original, Tidal-only version. Plaintiff does not dispute that there are differences between the versions of the album available on the different streaming services, and therefore he has not shown that Mr. West’s tweet about the exclusivity of The Life Of Pablo on Tidal was false.”
A District Court judge will have to weigh in to see if this defense will be enough for Kanye to avoid paying out on the undisclosed sum.