After telling all his fans that his album would only be available on Tidal, Kanye West is suffering the consequences. Fans have taken to The Pirate Bay, the biggest torrent downloading site online, to grab his album for free. More than 500,000 people have downloaded the album, forcing West to reconsider his options.
West had shared last Wednesday that he would release his new album, The Life of Pablo. It took its time, but it was released first on Tidal on February 11 and premiered at his Yeezy Season 3 collection show at Madison Square Gardens. Shortly before the Grammy Awards, he took to Twitter to complain about the awards show and said that his music would only be available on the first artist-owned streaming site Tidal. He went as far to tweet that it would “never never never be on Apple.”
— Inc. (@Inc) February 19, 2016
Fans had mocked the artist online, showing images of Pablo on iTunes. It is unknown whether this was before West had removed it or whether someone else had placed it on there to make some money illegally. Many others took to social media to say that they would never join Tidal just for one album.
It shows that they have stuck to their guns. CNN reports that more than half a million people have downloaded The Life of Pablo, according to TorrentFreak. On The Pirate Bay alone, more than 16,000 people were sharing the album at the same time.
He is not the first artist to restrict his album release, but he is one of the first to spark a big downloading campaign. Taylor Swift pulled all her music from Spotify in 2014 and even removed 1989 from Apple Music for a short period of time. While there was debate over how artists were compensated on streaming music sites, most fans went to buy her album from various places instead of downloading it illegally.
Kanye’s problem is that he has said his album will not be available for sale at all. Fans have the choice of signing up to Tidal, buying it directly from his site, or not getting it at all, and they do not want to play that game. Instead, they have taken the illegal route.
— billboard (@billboard) February 19, 2016
He would not be the first artist to have his album illegally downloaded. Artists are constantly complaining about music being downloaded illegally, and various countries have tried to implement restrictions on internet providers to stop it. People continually find ways around the restrictions.
West has decided to take action against those who have pirated his album. He is meeting with his legal team and is looking at options to gain his loss of earnings. One of his options is to sue The Pirate Bay, and he is hoping that Tidal will work with him in the legal proceedings. After all, Tidal is losing out, too, since it was supposed to be exclusive.
@Inc some say he has pulled of a real cracker marketing-wise
— Guru Girl (@GuruGirlTweets) February 19, 2016
Venture Beat reports that suing The Pirate Bay could be a waste of time. The site owners have always argued that they host the torrents and not the illegal content, which are two different things. The owners would also then need to remove the torrents. The Pirate Bay is also not the only site that allows people to download the torrents, and some of the sites are registered outside of the United States, making it even harder. Kanye’s lawyers may point all this out to him or may just go along with it for their own financial gain.
The other option he would have is to release his album for purchase on other sites. The question is whether Kanye West will want to give in to his pride after his Twitter rant for the sake of money. Considering his recent GoFundMe page, chances are he will.
[Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]