Jay Z, hip-hop megastar, music business mogul, entrepreneur and, significantly, the co-owner of streaming music site Tidal, has seemingly deployed a “nuclear option” of sorts. This apparently was done yesterday (April 7) as he pulled his catalog from competitor Spotify.
A search today on Spotify showed only two collaborative albums with R Kelly listed: Unfinished Business (2004) and Best of Both Worlds (2002). There are now also only five singles, all collaborations: “N****s in Paris” (Kanye featuring Jay), “Numb/Encore” (Linkin Park with Hova), “All the Way Up” (Fat Joe and Remy Ma ft. French Montana, Infared and Jay Z), “Clique” (Big Sean with Jay Z and Kanye) and “Dirt Off Your Shoulders” (with Notorious B.I.G.).
Billboard reached out to Spotify and Jay Z and only heard back at press time from Spotify, which confirmed that “some of his catalog has been removed at the request of the artist.”
The move comes as Tidal, the company Jay Z launched in 2015 and heavily invested in, remains a distant finisher in the opaque streaming marketplace. The self-proclaimed more artist-friendly service trails leaders Spotify (50 million subscribers as of last count), Apple Music (20 million at last official count) and Amazon (never says, but when bundled with Amazon Prime could be well over 10 million). Tidal’s subscription numbers are thought to be under 3 million and perhaps on par with competitors Deezer and Napster.
In January, Tidal sold a 33 percent stake in the company to Sprint for $200 million, giving it access to the telecom company’s 45 million customers.
Tidal launched in 2015 with sixteen artist investors in addition to Jay Z, including: Beyonce, Rihanna, Kanye West, Jack White, Arcade Fire, Usher, Nicki Minaj, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Calvin Harris, Daft Punk, deadmau5, Jason Aldean, J. Cole and Madonna. Part of the service’s allure is the exclusive content these superstar artists can provide.
Reports earlier today seemed to erroneously claim that Jay Z’s catalog had similarly been removed from Apple, but albums including The Black Album, Vol. 2…, Hard Knock Life, Vol. 3: Life and Times of S. Carter, Kingdom Come and his last solo LP, 2013’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail, were all listed. His other albums The Blueprint and Reasonable Doubt, for which Hova owns the masters, are not listed but were previously removed.
One primary difference in the services that may have led Jay Z to remove the titles from Spotify and not Apple is the former’s ad-based freemium tier which pays artists less in royalties than subscription tiers.