New Tidal subscribers were locked out of streaming Jay-Z’s ‘4:44’ album

Jay-Z Tidal 4:44

It’s been something of a difficult year for artists releasing new content via Tidal. Jay-Z’s new album 4:44 went live on the platform on June 30, but to the surprise of new subscribers, the album was locked, accessible only to existing subscribers and Sprint customers.

Ironically, fans who had signed up for free trials of the premium streaming service specifically to listen to 4:44 found out that they were able to listen to everything else on Tidal — except Jay-Z’s latest.

The confusion was brought on by Tidal’s lack of transparency regarding the album’s availability; non-subscribers visiting Tidal’s website saw a player with song snippets from 4:44 and a link to “try Tidal now,” which led many to believe signing up would grant access to the full album.

On Monday, the album — available exclusively via Tidal for a week, after which it will appear on multiple streaming services — was made available to all Tidal subscribers. Current Sprint customers and those who sign up for Sprint are currently eligible to receive six free months of Tidal hi-fi.

This is not the first hiccup that Tidal has experienced when it comes to album releases. In 2016, Kanye West’s intended release for The Life of Pablo went awry (though it wasn’t necessarily Tidal’s fault, as West is notorious for changing his mind on such matters), as the album appeared for sale on Tidal before mysteriously disappearing. West made some pretty definitive claims about the album’s Tidal exclusivity, then frustrated fans by turning around and releasing TLOP on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. Sources estimated that the botched release cost West upward of $10 million.

In March, the service accidentally made Rihanna’s Anti available for streaming ahead of its intended drop date, after which the singer went ahead and made the release official.

In addition to the album, which has received positive reviews for Jay-Z’s willingness to tackle controversial topics in tracks like 4:44 and Smile, the veteran rapper has offered fans a “visual” — a music video of sorts, but not the kind you’re used to — called “Footnotes” for The Story of O.J., featuring several prominent black celebrities speaking about race relations and injustice.

Earlier this year, Sprint acquired one-third of the streaming platform, valued at $200 million.