Just after midnight on Monday, Jay Z capped two weeks of online and billboard teasers involving “4:44” and confirmed that it is the title of his new album, out June 30 and available exclusively to Sprint customers and existing Tidal subscribers. The rapper released a snippet of a new song called “Adnis” earlier on Sunday evening.
The album is the first major project involving Tidal and Sprint, which acquired 33 percent of the streaming service in a $200 million deal in January.
A detailed press release (reproduced in part below) explains the project and partnership, which will require fans to subscribe to Tidal or Sprint in order to acquire the album legally; Sprint customers can receive a free six-month Tidal trial subscription. At press time, a rep for Jay Z had not responded to Variety‘s question about when or whether the album will be available on other streaming services or for purchase as a download or physical product.
The move is somewhat reminiscent of the release of both Jay Z’s 2013 album “Magna Carta Holy Grail” — which, as part of an estimated $20 million deal between Jay’s Roc Nation company and Samsung, saw 1 million owners of Galaxy devices receive the album for free, three days before its wide release — and Beyonce’s 2016 album “Lemonade,” which is available for streaming only on Tidal. However, both of those albums are available at retail as downloads and physical product; there is currently no indication that will be the case with “4:44,” although it seems very likely at some point.
The length of time the album will be a Tidal exclusive will have a dramatic effect on its chart success. Limiting Beyonce’s “Lemonade” to Tidal took a significant bite out of that album’s chart performance: While Tidal has claimed as many as 3 million paying subscribers, a January report in a Norwegian publication claimed to cite company reports to labels as saying it had just 800,000 subscribers and 1.2 million active users. By contrast, Spotify, the No. 1 streaming service in the U.S., claimed last week to have passed 140 global users and in March said it had reached 50 million paying subscribers; its closest competitor, Apple Music, announced earlier this month that it had passed the 27-million subscriber mark.
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