Spotify’s feeling sour.
While Beyoncé’s new album Lemonade was made available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon this week, it’s still streaming exclusively on Tidal, Jay Z’s subscription-only service, and appears unlikely to arrive on any other music streaming platforms for now.
By handing Lemonade over to Tidal alone, Beyoncé joins artists like Taylor Swift, Kanye West, and the late Prince, who all chose—because of personal philosophies or objections over payment models—to put their music on certain streaming services and not others. (West, it should be noted, later changed his mind, to many listeners’ annoyance.) And Spotify, the service that’s seen the most artist refusals, is starting to get worried.
Jonathan Prince, Spotify’s global communications head, gave the following statement to Mashable about Lemonade:
We believe long-term exclusives are bad for artists and they’re bad for fans. Artists want as many fans as possible to hear their music, and fans want to hear the music they’re excited about—exclusives get in the way of both. Of course, we understand that short promotional exclusives are common, we don’t have a total policy against them, and we certainly respect the choice of artists to decide what’s right for them.
Though the words might be tinged with a little bitterness and though Tidal is puny compared to Spotify, which is widely considered the industry leader, Spotify does have a point about exclusives being bad for everyone.
Exclusive music often leads to unchecked piracy, which hurts the entire music industry. In that way, Beyoncé’s new Tidal release gives off a certain deja vu—for a surge in piracy is exactly what happened last time the artist pulled a similar stunt.