When Jay Z described his goals for Tidal, he stressed that "as we grow along to become a bigger company... by time the size of the pizza is growing... everybody's sharing in that upside."
Now Jay Z is taking one very significant slice of that pie away from Spotify.
Jay Z has pulled his canonical 1996 album "Reasonable Doubt" off of Spotify and put it onto Tidal, his own service that re-launched last week with much of pop music's elite in tow. He joins Taylor Swift among the high profile acts to remove marquee recordings from Spotify, a streaming service that has attracted the ire of many musicians who say it devalues the price of music.
Jay Z was able to do so because of a recent shift in which after 10 years he regained control of his Def Jam master recordings, as part of his 2004 deal to become president of Island/Def Jam. While "Reasonable Doubt" is the only album he's yanked from Spotify so far, he has the right to take his whole Def Jam catalog with him.
Jay Z has made allusions to the fact that he is currently without a formal record deal and that artists could release albums straight to Tidal. If Tidal were the sole venue for its boss' new albums, that might sweeten the deal to convince fans to make the switch (exclusive material by Beyonce can't hurt either.)
This is an interesting front in the streaming-service wars. If services fragment content in ways where you need two or three of them to access the new music you want to hear, it could either make for healthier competion on price and exclusives, or a frustrating landscape of individually cheap but collectively expensive and confusing subscriptions.
In the meantime, you may need to dive into Spotify and re-edit your '90s hip-hop party playlists - or ponder a Tidal membership until this all shakes down.
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