The undisputed queen of music treats her online listeners to “Lemonade”
The Santa Clara
May 2, 2019
Spotify and Apple Music are the fat cats of music distribution—and for good reason. Both subscriptions offer endless music choices paired with exclusive new releases from top artists.
But there’s a catch. The way Spotify ’s artists are compensated has left some creatives jaded and in search of alternative means of distribution. Namely, the power couple of the music industry—Jay-Z and Beyoncé—have sparingly released music on these two platforms. Jay-Z is famously the creator and head of TIDAL, a streaming service on which he exclusively hosts his music. Queen Bey, however, has been generous in releasing all of her work—apart from one album.
Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” was her second visual album following her fifth solo album “Beyoncé.” This album includes a variety of featured guests like Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd and Jack White. Before “Lemonade” made its debut, Beyoncé released her single “Formation,” which kicked off the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show. Immediately afterwards, a commercial aired announcing “The Formation World Tour” which would primarily feature songs from “Lemonade.”
Three years have passed since the release of “Lemonade.” Before, it was only available to stream on TIDAL or to purchase on iTunes. The album slowly trickled into YouTube in 2017 as music videos with five to six-minute interludes before each song. This was the only “free” option to stream. But who wants to hear a speech before every song over and over again?
Now, the wait is finally over and “Lemonade” has become available across all major streaming services, including Spotify and Apple Music.
TIDAL was created in 2014 and is currently owned by Jay-Z and a variety of other well-known music artists, making it the “first artist-owned streaming service in the world.” The goal of the company was said to “restore the value to music by launching a service owned by artists.” The service costs $9.99 a month for the standard service and $19.99 for the premium service. What’s the difference? If you pay for the premium tier, you could have high-fidelity sound.
An article in USA Today titled “3 reasons why Jay-Z’s new Tidal streaming service is stupid” pointed out that listeners were losing the high-fidelity quality promised to them because most people didn’t own the “advanced headphones” needed to distinguish the difference between standard and high-fidelity audio. The article also mentions that $20 is not a reasonable price to charge for music already available on Spotify or Pandora. TIDAL is losing the battle in the competition for music.
Beyonce’s “Homecoming ” was released April 17 on Netflix as well as the live album on most streaming services. “Homecoming” tells the story of the realities behind Beyonce’s preparation for her two-hour Coachella performance in 2018. One week later, “Lemonade” also became available, putting the album back to the Top 10 on the Billboard 200.
Upon its release in 2016, Beyonce said the album would be a TIDAL exclusive “in perpetuity”—apparently three years was enough. Variety says that “by limiting the album’s availability, Beyonce definitely drove download sales as well as an undisclosed number of TIDAL subscriptions but deprived herself of untold millions in streaming revenue by keeping it off of more-popular services.”
Beyonce’s silence is not surprising but I think she finally realized her fame couldn’t fight gravity. She can’t create an inclusive environment for her fans by making her music exclusive. Whether she was trying to promote her husband’s business or another artists’ creativity, she knew that she needed to do something if she wanted to stay relevant.
Now that fans have had their fill of “Lemonade,” its initial craze has settled slightly. Not to say it isn’t popular anymore, but Beyonce will eventually need to top the album. Maybe the end of the “Lemonade” era is signaling a new upcoming album—who knows?
Contact Azariah Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.