In news that will surprise no one except (maybe?) hapless record executives and big-corporation streaming services, if you make something difficult or near-impossible to access, the internet will just find it somewhere else! Kanye West’s The Life Of Pablo has gone from a Tidal-streaming exclusive with an option to buy to only streaming on Tidal to possibly never being anywhere but Tidal over the 48-plus hours it has officially been released, and that confusing chain of events has led everyone to just download it illegally. Duh!
My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal.
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 15, 2016
TorrentFreak points out that The Life Of Pablo has been torrented at least a half million times, and that doesn’t even take into account the various direct download links that float around on the internet for every major album. That number’s not particularly outrageous for such a high-profile release (millions of people pirate Game Of Thrones each week, after all), but the fact that there is currently no way to actually purchase the album certainly exacerbated the piracy effect.
The Pirate Bay, arguably the most popular torrent site, has TLOP sitting at the top of the most downloaded music chart, currently with triple the amount of seeders than the next most-shared, which is Rihanna’s ANTI, another Tidal semi-exclusive that had its own botched rollout.
The moral of the story? Well… there really isn’t one, except that illegal downloading will never go away no matter what moves the industry tries to take to stop it. Even ANTI, which had a million Samsung-paid copies to give away, was still widely pirated. But when paying for an album isn’t even a possibility, it’s clear something is wrong.