Just when you thought music piracy was dead and buried it comes roaring back as alive as ever. The reason? Exclusives by Kanye West, Beyonce and Prince on Tidal.
These exclusives have been great for Tidal, as they have helped it to jump more than 100 places on the App Store most downloaded app chart, where it now sits at #3 on the iOS list.
As a result, Tidal is now the most popular music app in the US, even above Pandora and Spotify (Apple Music doesn't chart since it's a native app).
That's the good part of the story. The bad part is that some people just don't want to pay a monthly fee to stream a single album, they're not fond of Tidal, or they already subscribe to another service, so they resort to piracy instead. As a result, it's been estimated that West's The Life Of Pablo was torrented over 500,000 times in just its first day of release!
It looks like the same thing all over again in the initial hours after the release of Beyonce's Lemonade, as it's already on top of the the charts of both Kick Ass Torrents and The Pirate Bay.
And while Lemonade may be getting all the credit for Tidal's sudden ascendancy, the fact of the matter is that it's the only place online (other than YouTube, of course) where you can stream Prince's entire catalog. After his passing last week, there's been a tremendous appetite for his music, again helping Tidal tremendously.
So it looks like the only one making out on these exclusive's is Jay-Z and his Tidal service. The artists lose sales and streaming royalties to piracy, and the entire industry loses a chance to further the streaming cause. It's a missed opportunity.
The real smart move here would have been to make the exclusive's available only on the paid premium tiers of every service to give consumers a reason to sign up or upgrade. It could have happened with Adele's 25, it could have happened with The Life Of Pablo, and it could have happened with Lemonade.
Instead they've resurrected a scourge to the music industry where no one benefits except the pirates.
(This post was first posted on Forbes)