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99 PROBLEMS

It’s now or never for Jay Z’s Tidal

Amy X. Wang
By Amy X. Wang

Reporter

Based on all the attention it gets, Jay Z’s Tidal—the subscription-only music service that’s been bouncing all over the news lately—should be heading toward wild triumph.

Tidal exclusively hosted Kanye West’s latest album The Life of Pablo back in February, sparking a big surge in both subscribers and download numbers in Apple’s App Store. Last week, when music icon Prince passed away, fans found the platform was one of the few digital avenues where the artist’s music is available. Now, Tidal is enjoying another sparkling round of attention, thanks to Beyoncé’s surprise drop of her new album Lemonade exclusively on her husband’s service on April 23.

With all the good news, though, has come a fair share of the bad.

After West decided to release his album to other streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple, an angry fan smacked Tidal with a potential class-action lawsuit, claiming the service lied to get people to sign up. Today, Beyoncé’s album became available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon, causing many renewed grumbles about Tidal’s “exclusive” offerings. (Lemonade is still streaming on Tidal alone.)

That’s not to mention the service’s plethora of other ongoing battles—from royalty payment lawsuits to management issues to clashes with its former owners—or the clunky user experience of its actual product. This tangled mess of criticism and skepticism around Tidal (which, in a sense, has plagued the service since the very beginning) is part of what’s keeping it from joining the ranks of mega-players in streaming like Apple Music and Spotify.

But the question now is, has Tidal whipped up enough mainstream attention to get another shot?

West’s exclusive album offering is rumored to have nearly doubled Tidal’s subscriber numbers. Beyoncé’s stunt over the weekend jolted Tidal from #202 in the App Store to #3. Tidal has demonstrated a remarkable ability to snag headlines and stir controversy; now it’s time for it to also prove its staying power.

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