In yet another debacle revolving around Kanye West’s neurotic life, he recently announced that any collaboration with longtime friend Jay Z on “Watch the Throne 2” would be put off indefinitely, as the two are feuding over both personal and business reasons.
West first broke the news in a rant during one of his concerts, citing “Tidal/Apple bulls**t.” This came during the Saint Pablo Tour stop in Seattle, Wash. after West’s wife Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint in Paris, France.
While this is a personal issue between the two, it also speaks to the changing work environment in music in the streaming era. West’s latest release, “The Life of Pablo,” was a Tidal exclusive for a few days before being released in full on Apple Music and Spotify.
The general changing landscape took a toll on West’s album numbers, as he passed up an offer to be exclusive on Apple Music to release his album on Jay Z’s streaming service. In fact, this whole feud came to light after Jay Z pulled his verse on Drake’s latest album (and Apple exclusive release) “Views from the 6.”
After West declined Apple’s offer, Drake was next in line for the exclusivity rights, and the numbers for the album showed, as a majority of the tracks on the album show up in the streaming charts and the Billboard Hot 100.
Now that the titans of the streaming industry have been established, the big two, Spotify and Apple, hold a large hand in deciding the chart results of new albums, and no longer can the physical copy of an album be considered as the standard for recording success.
West’s slight at Apple was out of loyalty, but those profit-centered artists will soon find themselves deciding whether or not to take the publicity or the profit, as sites like Spotify are notorious for short selling artists, paying the artist anywhere from $00.0006 to $00.0084 per stream. Tidal’s main selling point was that it would compensate artists at a higher level, being made and endorsed by musicians such as Daft Punk, Beyoncé, Deadmau5 and Madonna—but it still has issues with the software, making it harder to navigate than either Spotify or Apple.
The industry may be changing drastically, but it is still hard to tell where exactly it is going. Streaming may be the hot commodity as of now, but even then vinyl sales are on the rise as people are going out of their way to buy the physical copy of an album as this medium feels more like owning the music than paying a monthly subscription.
Another reason that streaming may not last is that it ties up yet another company in the legal process of releasing an album. Not only are the publishers and distributers still involved, now an artist also has to go through the hoops of satisfying Apple or Spotify.
Streaming is the popular method of listening to music right now, and it comes with its own unique set of benefits and problems that an artist should be aware of whenever they ever decide to publish an album.
Eric Ryan is a third-year student majoring in English writing track. He can be reached at ER821804@wcupa.edu.