Recorded music, streaming
Tidal and Kanye West are being sued over West’s claims (via tweets) that the only place anyone would ever get access to his new album ‘The Life Of Pablo’ would be on Tidal, a claim that ended up being somewhat false. Tidal did have an exclusive, with the album appearing there first, even before West had actually finished the record, with occasional updates being made to tracks even as they were streaming. And West, a shareholder in Tidal, tweeted “my album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal”.
However when West’s new tracks subsequently popped up on the other streaming services, West fan Justin Baker-Rhett wanted to know, why having subscribed to Tidal to access the new record, he subsequently discovered he could have enjoyed that music without signing up – and why this isn’t false advertising, unfair competition, fraudulent inducement and unjust enrichment.
Summarising the litigation, the law firm leading on the action, Edelson PC, argue that Jay-Z’s business empire and West himself “duped consumers into signing up for Tidal subscriptions – which required handing over troves of valuable personal data including credit card information – under the false pretence that doing so was the only way they would be able to hear ‘The Life Of Pablo’. Consequently, Tidal unjustly benefitted in myriad ways from this collection of consumers’ personal data and the accompanying increase in its subscriber and streaming numbers”.
The lawsuit goes onto allege that Tidal was “near-collapse” last year, basically implying that the West exclusive was key in keeping the service going and that West’s tweet(s) were a “clear and unqualified representation that ‘The Life Of Pablo’ would be a permanent exclusive on Tidal”, a fact picked up by “countless news outlets”.
“A month and a half after releasing ‘The Life Of Pablo’ on Tidal, West made it available on other platforms including Apple Music, Spotify, and his own website”, the lawyers continue. “It was even available for free. By that point, plaintiff Baker-Rhett and millions of other consumers had been misled into believing they could only hear the album on Tidal. Had they known they’d be able to listen to the album elsewhere, they would not have become Tidal subscribers”.