JAY-Z’s newest album 4:44 dropped today, but only for those that subscribe to TIDAL and Sprint.
For those unaware, the title of this post is inspired by the scientific question; “When a tree falls in a lonely forest, and no animal is nearby to hear it, does it make a sound?” Though I won’t go into the details of it, in a very very basic breakdown. The scientific thought is that sound is only created when a person uses their ears to hear it, so if there are no ears, there is no sound. So, if we are unable to hear the music that JAY-Z makes, has JAY-Z made ‘music’?
TIDAL have been trying hard to create exclusives for their customers, looking to rival competitors Apple Music (Spotify are against exclusives). In the lead up to the release of 4:44, JAY-Z even went to the length of removing all his tracks from rival streaming platforms. Both TIDAL and Apple Music have had several exclusives over the past few years, with Kanye, Beyonce, Drake and Frank Ocean all parts of these deals and album releases. So, has JAY-Z really made ‘music’ for the art or has he made a business move to increase TIDAL profits?
The problem with exclusives for the consumer is that the majority of music on each platform is the same. So, in paying for more than one streaming platform at around £10 a month, you are actually paying twice or even three times for 95% – 98% the exact same content on each platform. So that is £240 a year for streaming platforms, but is that really a problem? Previously we would pay £10 – £20 an album and that would limit us to less than 24 albums a year. Now we have access to 100’s of new albums every single week, so perhaps we are doing better than we were.
So, did JAY-Z make ‘music’ or a business move? Well, it’s very hard to tell the two apart in the modern music industry and it is undeniable that it was done to bring new subscribers to the TIDAL platform. Though it has limited the audience that has heard 4:44 at release and will likely stop many from ever hearing it in full. So are the fans winning and are the artists bothered that fewer people are listening to their music? Probably not, but this is the music business, not the music charity.
On another note, 4:44 is pretty good, check it out on TIDAL…