Somewhere in Jay-Zâ€™s alternative universe, a Sprint/TIDAL-exclusive is a fantastic idea.
The music industry got the memo on streaming exclusives in 2016! Â And this memo has been delivered â€” and re-delivered â€”Â by the industryâ€™s biggest players. Â Like Lucian Grainge, Jimmy Iovine, Kanye West, and Troy Carter, just to name a few. Â The verdict is in:
Streaming exclusives suck!
They piss off fans, and punish paying subscribers who are supporting the music industry. Â They cause huge spikes in piracy (which means the money goes OUT of the industryâ€™s pocket).
But this isnâ€™t one asshole at Digital Music News saying it anymore. Â Itâ€™s the entire industry! Â So why has Jay-Z spent tens of millions promoting the most restrictive album exclusive of the year?
I havenâ€™t heard 4:44, Jay-Zâ€™s newest album. Â And you probably havenâ€™t either,Â unless you pirated it.
And the reason is so obvious, itâ€™s strange that someone with Jay-Zâ€™s business acumen wouldnâ€™t also realize it. Â Chances are, you arenâ€™t a Tidal subscriber. Â But thereâ€™s even a slimmer chance that youâ€™re a Tidal AND a Sprint subscriber, which is actually required for anyone jumping on board after June 26th (the album was released on June 30th).
You probably donâ€™t believe this album is that restrictive. Â Well, take a look.
Soâ€¦ people are going to switch mobile providers and ditch their Spotify accounts to hear this album?
Of course theyâ€™re not. Â Even if theyâ€™re absolutely die-hard Jay-Z fans (which there are a lot fewer of these days).
Sure, maybe Jay-Z was contractually bound to release a Sprint exclusive as part of their deal. Â But that doesnâ€™t make it a good idea! Â So a contractual clause just made Jay-Zâ€™s album irrelevant.
And letâ€™s look at how many people can legitimately access this album right now.
First, letâ€™s start with Tidal: how many subscribers does Tidal really have? Â At this stage, Iâ€™m not sure we can confidently state that Tidal has more than one million paying subscribers worldwide. Â Frankly, after all the allegations of complete subscriber fabrication, Tidalâ€™s paying base might be in the low-100,000s (if that).
Now, overlay that with Sprint subscribers who are aware of this offer, and that number gets even smaller.
But Sprint has the exclusive, so theyâ€™re blasting it to their subscribers!
No, theyâ€™re not. Â My girlfriend is a Sprint subscriber (and a Spotify subscriber). Â Sheâ€™s a music fan and constantly on her iPhone. Â And she had NO idea there was a new Jay-Z album out.
But what about the bus wraps and huge signs in Times Square?
Dude, thatâ€™s 1990s marketing. Â Iâ€™m not perplexed at what â€˜4:44â€™ means after seeing it mysteriously wrapped around an LA city bus. Â Maybe itâ€™s a new X-Men movie, or a huge Netflix series. Â Maybe itâ€™s a music thing. Â Iâ€™m mildly curious, but ultimately, who cares! Â Thereâ€™s so much that I already canâ€™t keep up with, I can wait!
And Iâ€™ve already decided which streaming music service Iâ€™m using. Â Seriously, Iâ€™m not switching to Tidal (and Sprint) for one album (or even a few albums). Â There are already too many people crawling all over my credit card!
Iâ€™m not in the mood for another $9.99 surprise.
Jay-Z bought a turd and didnâ€™t put the time in to fix it. Â Sprint then bought a piece of that turd and now weâ€™re supposed to care?
Please. Â The only people that genuinely need to hear 4:44 during its release week are die-hard Jay-Z fans. Â Or, just die-hard rap fans. Â And guess what? Â Theyâ€™re going to steal it.
Like, Snoop Dogg, who flat out admitted to pirating 4:44. Â Because heâ€™s just as confused as you are about why this album is available toâ€¦ nobody.
â€œI want to shoot a shoutout to JAY-Z, just dropped another motherfucking hot album,Â 4:44,â€ Snoop relayed. â€œBut you know what, I donâ€™t got TIDAL, so a nigga had to bootleg it to me. Iâ€™m on iTunes and shit, I donâ€™t understand this. Yâ€™all got to explain that to me. I went to iTunes looking for his album and I couldnâ€™t find it but my homie had to send it to me. But shoutout to JAY-Z, my nigga. He did it again.â€