Streaming Wars: Conflict intensifies as Jay Z withdraws debut album from Spotify

Last week, the Jay Z-fronted music streaming service Tidal re-launched its platform in astonishing and grandiose scenes.

On hand for the unveiling of the service were other Tidal leaders, including Rihanna, Calvin Harris, Beyonce, Jack White, the robots from Daft Punk, Nicki Minaj, Usher, and Madonna, amongst others.

The announcement came equipped with a glitzy and glossily shot promo video of Tidal leaders strategizing and vaporing to themselves in a war resort, as well as an 18-minute press conference outlining the direction of the Tidal campaign. The press conference ended with the leaders signing a declaration of something, and Madonna humping a table.

The Tidal campaign is somewhat messy, though there are some things that were made clear.

Tidal, the preferred streaming service of the residents of Galt’s Gulch, enters into the Streaming Wars in direct opposition to streaming giant Spotify. Tidal boasts more or less the same music catalogue as Spotify, has the same basic design as Spotify, and at one price tier is the same price as Spotify. What differs between the two is that Tidal offers a 19.99/mo. service that provides listeners with high quality FLAC recordings. There is also the incentive of Tidal-only releases, some of which have surfaced, Rihanna and Beyonce already posting exclusive new material on the service.

Spotify has come under fire over the past several months because of the service’s scant payouts to artists for music streamed, some detractors saying that Spotify does not compensate artists well enough in relation to number of listens. Because of this, the mood in the musical world has been tense. This mood was only heightened with the introduction of Tidal, a service Jay Z claims has altruistic motives and is in place to put more money in artists’ pockets.

Jay Z fielded questions at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music and spoke about the opposition, striking a relaxed a neutral stance saying, “I know everyone thinks 'new company, main business competitor is Spotify' but we're really not here to compete with anyone, we're actually here to improve the landscape.”

But today, that has all changed, as Jay Z struck a preliminary blow at Spotify, pulling his 1996 debut album Reasonable Doubt off of the streaming service. The worsening situation between the two services has left listeners and fans reeling, driving thousands of confused consumers from their streaming hovels.

According to the L.A. Times, Jay Z may have more ammunition at his disposal. The paper outlines a secret pact that was worked out between Jay Z and Island/Def Jam back in 2004, an agreement the saw Jay Z gain ownership over his Def Jam master recordings in 2014, meaning Jay could pull his entire Def Jam catalogue off of Spotify.

The response of Spotify is yet to be seen. The service has been Reasonable Doubt-less for several hours now, subscribers left with no choice but to listen to Kingdom Come and the Jay Z-Linkin Park collaboration album. The report on the frontline is said to be bleak, with no end in sight.