Jay-Z loves rapping about those who have done him wrong, but soon he’ll have to unleash a diss track about himself, as it seems like his exclusivity deal with his own streaming service will deny him a number one album in Australia this weekend.
Now, I don’t think Jay-Z watches the Australian charts too closely, but this self-cock-blocking (sorry) is being mirrored around the world – not being on Spotify has decimated his first-week streaming count, and a lot of people figure piracy is the only way to hear the record – even Snoop Dogg admitted he listened to what he charmingly referred to as a bootleg of the album.
Last year, Kanye left millions on the table when he made his The Life Of Pablo a Tidal exclusive; it’s not surprising he has since cut ties with the company, and is suing for $3m in money owed for production, video, and tour costs. He feels cheated.
Exclusivity can work in other creative fields – Louis C.K. has made his concert tickets, and more recently his series Horace and Pete, available only from his own website. But streaming is how most people consume music, and Spotify is how most people stream. The royalty rates suck, but this is how the industry is right now.
Donald Glover once said trying to get people to pay for music nowadays, is like a bakery trying to charge those walking past for the smell of their bread. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. Still, someone needs to knock Ed Sheeran off the top of the charts.