Almost three years ago, the world received bad news: Jay-Z’s music was scrubbed off Spotify. Tragic for many indeed. The artist instead kept his music available on his own streaming service, Tidal, but to celebrate his 50th birthday, he gave a very kind present to his fans by putting his albums back on Spotify.
So how about you end 2019 with a bang by throwing on your headphones and blaring “The Blueprint.”
The Best Returns to SpotifyEmbed from Getty Images
On December 4th, Spotify tweeted the good news of Jay-Z’s return to its service. No official announcement was given.
Why his music is back on Spotify is unknown, but it’s surprising given his competing streaming company, Tidal. Back in 2015, Jay-Z purchased Tidal for $56 million. Complete access to his albums, of course, was the main draw of Tidal, but also its streaming service that promises better audio and quality, giving off the impression that the platform provides more of an artist-friendly atmosphere as well.
99 Problems, Including SpotifyEmbed from Getty Images
For starters, streaming services under-compensate artists. Even when albums were on store shelves and selling, musicians haven’t seen much of the money from consumer purchases.
The money is and has always been in touring. Now that music has been digitized and streaming have toppled the number of albums purchases, it’s even harder for artists to see a quick return.
As for Jay-Z’s problem with Spotify, around the time he purchased Tidal he criticized the platform in free style rap:
“Spotify is nine million, they ain’t say sh-t / Lucy you got some esplainin’ to do / The only one they hatin’ on looks the same as you / That’s cool, I know they tryin’ to bamboozle you / Spendin’ millions on me to try to confuse you.”
In other words: Spotify is bad for artists.
A Popularity Contest
At the end of the day, Spotify is the most popular streaming service for music. They have over 100 million listeners. To give some perspective, Apple Music has 20 million subscribes and Jay-Z’s has less than three million.
Of course, Jay-Z doesn’t need more exposure or popularity, but why not continue to give his music the biggest spotlight and platform it deserves? This is purely speculation, but maybe Jay-Z’s camp and Spotify struck a deal of some kind with more benefits for him involved.
Artists Against SpotifyEmbed from Getty Images
Jay-Z isn’t the only creative to voice their concerns with Spotify or to remove their music from the streaming service. Before his tragic death, Prince removed his library from Spotify.
“I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else,” he said. “They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.”
Who’s going to argue with Prince? Like other artists against Spotify, Prince’s music eventually found its way back on the service, for good and bad.
Adele and Taylor Swift, too, took their music off Spotify at points in their careers. Adele chose not to release “25″ on Spotify, and Swift made the same decision with “1989.”
These artists stood up for themselves and other artists getting short-changed.
Here’s an example of how dirty streaming services can be: during a free three month Apple Music trial, artists weren’t compensated for those customers listening. That’s the reason why Swift spoke out. She’s one of Spotify’s most popular artists and listened to by 25% of their subscribers, but initially, she wouldn’t allow them “1989” over their low-ball compensation.
Few musicians speak highly of Spotify, especially older acts who enjoyed the days of physical media flying off the shelves