Fans have been anxiously awaiting Kanye West’s latest album, The Life of Pablo, but are having a hard time actually getting to listen to it. First, the artist pulled the album from sale in order to continue to work on it, then he announced that the album would only be available on the Tidal music streaming service.
“My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal,” West tweeted yesterday. Though the impending release of The Life of Pablo saw Tidal shoot to the top of the App Store, not everyone is willing to use a different service to listen to one album.
Certain steel-willed individuals may have simply decided not to listen to the album at all, but who want to hear The Life of Pablo without using Tidal took a different route: piracy. While most major album releases appear on popular torrent sites upon their release, this appears to be an exceptional case.
My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal.
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 15, 2016
On the first day the album was available for download, an estimated 500,000 people downloaded a copy, according to TorrentFreak. More than 10,000 people were sharing the album, something the site says it hasn’t seen for even the most popular music releases.
In addition to torrent sites, the album is also being distributed via numerous direct download sites and other methods. The RIAA has already gone to work doing what it can to stop the album’s distribution, but a significant number of copies have already been downloaded.
West reportedly owns a stake in Tidal, so it makes sense that he would want to push his fans toward the service, but whether the trade-off is worth it remains to be seen. Apple Music currently has 11 million paying subscribers as the company announced yesterday, while Spotify has 20 million paying customers and around 55 to 60 million free, ad-based subscribers. That’s a lot of potential revenue to turn away.
West hasn’t commented on the piracy issue so far, but it doesn’t seem likely at this time that it will cause him to change his plans and allow the album to be distributed through other platforms.