How Jay Z used Kanye West and Rihanna to jumpstart his ailing music service

Jay Z
ay-Z attends Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Barclays Center on May 2, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Elsa/Getty Images)

You can’t stream Kanye West’s new album anywhere except one place: Jay Z’s Spotify competitor Tidal.

Tidal’s exclusive access to one of the year’s most anticipated albums has sent the streaming music service’s app to the top of the App Store’s chart. The “Kanye bump” sent Tidal from number 259 to number 1 on the US downloads chart, according to App Annie.

Tidal has a history of using big album releases to boost its downloads. When Rihanna released her “ANTI” album exclusively on Tidal last month, it took 48 hours for the app to rise from number 147 to 13 on the App Store’s free chart. But it remains to be seen whether these new customers will continue beyond the free trial.

Here is the chart of these two download bumps:

Kanye rihanna tidal

West tweeted a screenshot of Jay Z’s Tidal at the top of the App Store on Sunday night after announcing that his album,”The Life of Pablo” (or TLOP), won’t be available for purchase for another week.

There are a couple of reasons why West decided to give Tidal streaming rights for TLOP before competing services like Apple Music and Spotify. The first is his close relationship with Jay Z, who owns Tidal and has used his influence to secure exclusive album releases from big artists in the past.

The second is that Tidal appears to be funding West’s “scripted content ideas.”

Tidal has already published original video content on its platform, including a comedy series and a serialized drama called “Money & Violence.” It sounds like West is working on his own show that Tidal is bankrolling. West premiered a trailer for a video game about his mother’s death after his TLOP release/Yeezy Season 3 fashion show event at Madison Square Garden last week.

The success Kanye and Rihanna’s albums have had in driving downloads is good news for Tidal, which has endured a slew of high-profile departures in the months since it was relaunched. The service has lost two CEOs, its chief investment officer, the US marketing manager, and the senior vice president of label and artist relations.


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