BACK IN MARCH, when Drake released his project More Life, he did something unusual: He didn’t make it an Apple Music exclusive. Despite having a long, successfulhistory with the service—he actually helped announce its launch in 2015—he released the “playlist” on Spotify and Tidal as well. It broke streaming records. After a 2016 that saw more than 40 albums released as exclusives for one streaming platform or another, it was as clear an indication as any that their allure was fading. Labels aren’t keen on them; artists aren’t either. Even Apple is backing away from them like Homer Simpson into the bushes. In a word, they seem to be over. Unless you’re Jay-Z.
Early yesterday morning, the artist formerly known as Shawn Carter topped off a Father’s Day weekend of welcoming twins and bailing out dads by announcing a new visual album, 4:44, that would be arriving June 30.
According to the album announcement, made with a snippet of the track “Adnis” (below), it will be a Tidal exclusive—available only to current subscribers and Sprint customers, who are eligible for a free six-month trial of Tidal’s premium HiFi service. Is that a needlessly convoluted way to hear a new Jay-Z album? Yes. Is it the kind of thing only an artist who also founded the streaming platform in question can pull off? That too. But it almost might be one of the last high-profile streaming exclusives you see.