Some wrote it off after a series of gaffes and high-profile exec exits.
Yet after the biggest week in its short life so far, Jay Z’s TIDAL is proving its mettle as an effective rival to Spotify.
In fact, it’s just climbed above Daniel Ek’s brand on the daily chart of most-downloaded music apps in the US.
But at what cost?
The background: Yesterday (April 23) saw the much-anticipated release of Beyoncé’s first studio album for three years.
Lemonade – which features the likes of Jack White, Diplo, James Blake, Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd – was premiered via a TV special on HBO.
Introduced as a ‘visual album’, this one-off spectacular was essentially a series of music videos, linked together by words from Somali-British poet Warsan Shire.
At the end of the HBO show, fans could finally gain access to Lemonade the album – but there was a catch.
For the time being, the Columbia-issued LP (and its accompanying TV special) has is officially exclusively available on TIDAL– the streaming service owned by Beyoncé’s husband.
This windowed release has sent fans surging in two directions: to TIDAL, and to piracy sites.
First, let’s monitor the legitimate option.
According to market monitor App Annie, Beyoncé’s exclusive propelled TIDAL up 134 places yesterday on the chart of the most-downloaded free iOS apps in the US (across games, music, utilities and more).
So far today (April 24), TIDAL has jumped up another 14 places and is sitting pretty at No.10 on this all apps iOS list.
It’s enough to mean that TIDAL is currently the most popular music app on the US App Store – above both Pandora and Spotify. (Apple Music is a native app and so isn’t counted).
TIDAL’s subscription appeal was given another big boost this week, in tragic circumstances.
Following the sad news of Prince’s death aged 57 on Thursday (April 21), TIDAL became the only streaming service to host The Purple One’s full catalogue of around 270 songs.
Interesting to note, then, that on a chart Jay Z will particularly care about, the past week has seen TIDAL solidify its position as the third highest-grossing iOS music app in the US – behind Spotify (No.1) and Pandora (No.2).
Not bad, considering TIDAL was the fifth highest-grossing iOS music app on App Annie’s last available monthly rankings from February, and the fourth most-downloaded.
In the UK, another breakthrough: thanks to Beyoncé, TIDAL has today risen above Deezer and Sing! Karaoke as the second highest grossing music app on iOS, behind Spotify.
Yet as TIDAL knows better than anyone, when you score a big online exclusive with a superstar’s album these days, you’re bound to drive people to piracy sites.
Lest we forget the last big TIDAL exclusive: Kanye West’s The Life Of Pablo.
Released in February – and another album that pushed TIDAL to the top of the US app charts – TLOP was believed to be torrented half a million times in its first day.
So far, Beyoncé’s Lemonade looks to be on a similar trajectory.
Despite only being available for less than 24 hours, Lemonade is already top of the piracy charts on both Kick Ass Torrents (KAT) and The Pirate Bay (TPB).
On TPB, Lemonade takes both the No.1 and No.4 spots on the most-torrented music files of the past 48 hours. (Prince has three entries on this Top 10 – with his entire discography appearing at No.6.)
Over on Kick-Ass Torrents, believed to the world’s biggest piracy portal in existence, Lemonade is towering over all-comers.
The album is currently the most ‘seeded’ music file on the entire site. (‘Seeders’, for those that don’t know, are individuals who jointly make files available on torrent sites through a shared P2P folder on their device.)
The most popular torrent of Lemonade already has 1,395 seeders on Kick Ass Torrents – and it’s just four hours old.
Another version of the Beyoncé album appears at No.8 on KAT’s most popular music torrents, with a further 539 seeders.
There are at least five versions of Lemonade currently being shared on the site.