Is Jay-Z Finally Returning to Spotify?

Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming platforms ever created. Jay-Z is one of the most popular rappers who ever walked the earth. One would think they are a perfect match for each other. However, Jay-Z’s music was absent from Spotify for many years. Here’s why Jay-Z decided to add his music to the platform once again. 

Jay-Z | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The birth of Tidal

According to Business Insider, Jay-Z purchased a streaming platform which was originally called Aspiro. Aspiro was known for being a quality streaming service popular among dedicated music fans. After he purchased it, Jay-Z changed its name to Tidal and relaunched it in March 2015. 

Jay-Z invited many of his celebrity friends to the relaunch party, including Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Kanye West, Calvin Harris, Jason Aldean, Deadmau5, and Chris Martin of Coldplay. The party was captured in a glossy, documentary-style advertisement released to the internet.

Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Deadmau5 and Kanye West | Kevin Mazur/Getty Images For Roc Nation

The advertisement featured clips of celebrities discussing the streaming service. They refer to themselves as icons and revolutionaries changing the world. Many fans thought the advertisement came across as strangely self-congratulatory and out of touch. 

The ad didn’t really explain what made Tidal so much better than other streaming platforms. According to Pitchfork, Jay-Z said what makes Tidal unique is it’s owned by popular musicians. He also decided to release his catalogue for streaming exclusively on Tidal, probably in the hope his music could increase the service’s popularity. 

Jay-Z explained “Will artists make more money? Even if it means less profit for our bottom line? Absolutely. That’s easy for us. We can do that. Less profit for our bottom line, more money for the artist; fantastic. Let’s do that today.”

Why Tidal was controversial

This explanation was not satisfactory for many music fans. Spotify was already incredibly popular. People didn’t want to have to pay for another streaming service just because it would make millionaires like Jay-Z, Madonna, and Nicki Minaj even richer.

Rihanna and Kanye West | Kevin Winter/WireImage

What really separated Tidal from other streaming services is how certain artists would release their material exclusively to it – at least temporarily. Rihanna’s much publicized album Anti was initially released to Tidal exclusively for one week. That helped to boost the Tidal app’s popularity. 

Kanye West initially released his album The Life of Pablo exclusively to Tidal. West told the world “My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale. You can only get it on Tidal.”

By this point, many saw Tidal as exclusivist and elitist. West’s fans in particular were upset they couldn’t stream The Life of Pablo on Spotify or Apple Music. The company’s public relations took a downturn when West’s album was released to other streaming services in April 2016.

Jay-Z changes his tune

Jay-Z | Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Although initially-exclusive albums from Rihanna and West looked like a good idea on paper, they didn’t pan out for the company. Data proves those albums led to a spike in downloads of the Tidal app but not a dedicated consumer base. 

Things are about to change for Tidal – at least a little. Stereogum reports Jay-Z has now decided to release his music to Spotify. Officially, Jay-Z is doing this as part of his 50th birthday celebration. Some believe he’s putting his music on Spotify because of the difficulties Tidal is facing. Regardless, Jay-Z fans who subscribe to Spotify but not Tidal are sure to be happy.