Lil Wayne Album Exclusive To Tidal: A Tidal Fightback In Streaming War?

Hip hop star Lil Wayne has finally dropped his long awaited new album. The newest Lil Wayne offering is entitled Free Weezy Album, and has immediately been dubbed simply FWA. Lil Wayne’s 15-track mixtape features guest performances from the likes of Wiz Khalifa, Young Jeezy, and Cory Gunz, as well as his latest single offering, “Glory.” The album dropped yesterday, on Independence Day, but the big news is that Lil Wayne has chosen to make the release exclusive to Tidal.

The release comes a month after Lil Wayne announced that he was joining Tidal as co-owner, and after a long series of delays. The Tidal streaming service is the brainchild of another rapper, Jay-Z, and was launched back in March amidst a flurry of hype. Despite high profile support from the likes of Madonna, Kanye West, and Deadmau5, Tidal has struggled to make an impact in a market currently dominated by Spotify. Tidal faced other (planned) challenges when its interim Chief Executive left shortly after launch, and it now faces an even bigger challenge with tech giant Apple entering the fray.

Lil Wayne’s announcement that FWA is exclusive to Tidal might just mean that we are seeing the emergence of a strategy designed to rescue the ailing streaming service. Earlier this week, the Inquisitr reported that global superstar Prince has removed his music from all streaming services with the exception of Tidal.

Prince’s move was totally unexpected, and with Lil Wayne making his album exclusive to Tidal just two days later, it might be that Tidal is setting out to build a stable of releases that can only be heard by Tidal subscribers. Prince has already allowed one of his live shows to be streamed on Tidal, and there are rumours that Kanye West’s next album may also be exclusive to Tidal. Music industry analysts will be wondering if the moves by Lil Wayne and Prince are the beginnings of a war for dominance of the music streaming business.

Tidal has struggled chiefly because the cost of Hifi subscriptions are double that of the other streaming services, and some users may not be aware of their lower-cost tier. Tidal’s promise of giving subscribers access to exclusive content has not really worked out up to now, and is sure to be under further pressure from Apple Music, who offers their “Connect” service. Like Spotify, subscriptions to Apple Music are half the cost of Tidal’s Hifi tier, and on par with their lower-cost tier.

It seems that moves by Lil Wayne and Prince could mean the streaming battleground will become a battle over access to artists.

What do you think about Lil Wayne’s decision? Would it be enough for you to give Tidal a shot? Let us know what you think.

[Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images for BET]