Kanye West’s new album “The Life of Pablo” had 500,000 downloads on its first day alone, according to TorrentFreak, which would have been enough to certify it as “gold” if those downloads were from iTunes or official sales.
The problem? Those were illegal downloads on BitTorrent, and Kanye didn’t see a single dime from them.
So far, the only place you can legally listen to the new album is Tidal, Jay Z’s streaming service, where it remains an exclusive.
And that might not change any time soon. Kanye has declared that he will never sell his album — on iTunes or anywhere else.
“My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal,” Kanye wrote in a tweet over the weekend.
This presents a problem for fans, and highlights a big problem with streaming exclusives in general. While Tidal does include the option for a 30-day free trial, or even a 90-day one if you know where to look, many people have taken to social media to voice their frustration with the release process, and have strongly implied that they downloaded the album illegally because they can’t easily buy it. Plenty of people would be willing to pay for the album up front, but they don’t want to have to sign up for a new streaming service in order to do so.
TorrentFreak said it had observed 10,000 people sharing a copy of a particular “TLOP” torrent simultaneously: “something we haven’t seen with a music release before.”
But that doesn’t mean Kanye’s rollout should immediately be considered a failure. The release of “TLOP” shot Tidal up to the top of the app download charts, and we don’t know what kind of deal Kanye got for giving it exclusively to Tidal.
One clue: Kanye tweeted that Tidal is “funding a lot of my scripted content ideas.”