Kanye pulls his new album from sale to direct fans to the streaming service he co-owns.
Kanye’s latest album was originally available for purchase at his website when it was released on Sunday (February 14), but after pulling the album from sale temporarily, Tidal is currently the only place to hear it.
According to a tweet from Kanye, the album will not be available to buy for another week in order to encourage subscriptions to Tidal, the high-definition streaming service he’s a co-owner of.
The tactic appears to have worked: Tidal topped the US App Store’s free chart overnight, and according to The Verge reached #30 on the chart of top grossing apps. Tidal hasn’t done quite so well in the UK where it’s #17 in the free app chart, but it’s only three away from Spotify’s app, which sits at #14.
It remains to be seen whether the app downloads will translate into more money for Tidal: a lot of people signing up for the service to hear The Life of Pablo are presumably taking advantage of the streaming service’s free trial period.
Kanye West has a vested interest in Tidal being a success. As well as being one of the company’s celebrity co-owners, he claimed on Twitter that he’s $53m in debt and needs the financial help of Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg.
It’s not just music that Kanye West is creating for Tidal. According to another tweet the streaming service is funding his scripted material, presumably part of the move into TV shows the company announced last year.
Tidal has had several high-profile exclusives since relaunching under the guidance of Jay Z last March, including Rihanna’s recent album Anti, but the service has struggled to gain market share from Spotify and Apple Music. In October 2015 it emerged Tidal had 1m paid subscribers, a fraction of Spotify’s 20m and Apple Music’s recent figure of 10m.