The streams have spoken and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo is riding high. According to Billboard, Kanye West’s Tidal exclusive album was streamed 250 million times in just its first ten days on the streaming service.
Reports also have Tidal surpassing 3 million paid subscribers this month, a year after the service relaunched under Jay Z’s ownership last March. That marks a little less than 2.5 million added users since Jay Z took over.
Kanye promised to never make The Life of Pablo available on Apple Music or iTunes, and it wasn’t released on rival streamer Spotify either (though the rapper did release the single Famous on both services this week). As a result, in the first day of its release The Life of Pablo was illegally downloaded over 500,000 times. But the rapper got a little help from hip-hop’s first family when it came to his Tidal numbers: The week of The Life of Pablo‘s release, Tidal offered a 30-day free trial, along with an extended 90-day trial if user signed up at beyonce.tidal.com.
Big streaming numbers for Tidal-exclusive albums aren’t unprecedented. Rihanna’s Anti album was released in late January, weeks before The Life of Pablo, and accumulated 13 million streams in the first 14 hours. Still, Kanye’s massive numbers are especially impressive when you consider how much smaller the streamer’s user base is when it comes to the competition.
To put things into perspective, consider that hip hop golden boy Drake’s surprise album If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late last year accumulated around 17.3 million streams in the first three days on Spotify, a record for first week album streams at the time. Spotify also enjoyed other blockbusters from the likes of One Direction’s Made in the A.M. and Justin Bieber’s latest album, Purpose, which accumulated an astounding 105 million streams and 205 million streams in their respective debut weeks. Bieber’s mighty number shattered Spotify’s previous record. While those albums weren’t exclusive to Spotify, all three benefited from Spotify’s humungous user base, which included at least 20 million paid users and 75 million ad-based users at the time.
Rival streamer Apple Music has not formally announced which album holds its first week streaming record, but the streaming service has released a few exclusive albums by major artists that are dwarfed by Spotify and Tidal’s numbers. Hip hop hitmakers Drake and Future made their collaborative album What A Time To Be Alive an Apple Music/iTunes exclusive for its first week, and the album amassed just under 36 million streams in its opening week. Apple’s user base claimed somewhere between 6.5-7.5 million users at the time — far fewer than Spotify, but still more than double Tidal’s user base.
What isn’t clear is just how many of Kanye’s Life of Pablo streams came from users who signed on for the free trial, and later left the service. Still, it’s abundantly clear that, no matter where the rapper hosts his music, people will flock to it in droves.
As for Tidal, could the streamer’s exclusive release strategy be paying off? Time will tell, but for now, the much-maligned service is no doubt enjoying the good news.