Kanye West Just Doesn't Get It

When you're an artist, a big reason that you create your art is so that you can share it with the world. With that in mind, you generally want to make your art as accessible to the masses as you can. That's not to say that you should simply give away the things you make, but you might not want force your fans to pay a monthly fee on an exclusive platform, just for the privilege of experiencing your gift to the world. Yes, I'm talking to you, Kanye (and no, I don't think he's actually listening).

If you're not a Kanye West fan, then you might not know that he recently released a new album, The Life of Pablo. Sure, that's the sort of thing that makes headlines, but this time around, Kanye is making waves because of how he's chosen to release the album. Instead of making it available through any number of other means, he's decided that it's going to be exclusive to Tidal, the music streaming service owned by Jay-Z.

According to Kanye's Twitter, the album will never be available to stream anywhere else, nor will you be able to purchase it. Let that sink in for a moment. You can't buy Kanye's new album at all, you can only stream it from Tidal.

New Kanye West album hits Tidal for exclusive streaming

Okay, so that's a bold move, Cotton. You put all of your chips down on one service, and maybe it'll pay off. And hey, it's the #1 free app on the iOS store, so that's got to count for something, right? Well, consider that everyone who downloads the app gets a 30-day free trial, I'd say that just being the #1 app downloaded this week doesn't say much for actual sales for the subscription service. It'll be another month before new subscribers actually have to pony up the $10 every month.

So we can't really rely on the App Store rank to determine just how successful this venture is. Where else can we look? Piracy. How many people are pirating an album that they're never allowed to purchase? Surely that will give us an idea of how people are responding to this concept.

Piracy is a tricky thing to measure. After all, there are various torrent sites, and each of them might have a few different versions of the files to download. TorrentFreak has been monitoring the downloads of the album from various sites (torrents are kind of their specialty, after all) and earlier today, they estimated that more than 500,000 people had downloaded the album illegally in the first day.

The Pirate Bay is easily the largest and most notorious torrenting site out there, so I braved the wretched hive of scum and villainy (well, it's not really all that wretched) to see what the stats were on the album. A quick search found 12 different versions of it available for download. At the time of writing, more than 13,000 people were seeding the various torrents of the album. (I should take a moment to explain that I'm not condoning or even encouraging piracy. If you don't want to pay his outrageous fee every month for his music, you shouldn't bother pirating it, either.)

This is an unprecedented level of piracy for a new album. Even TorrentFreak said that they'd never seen anything like this before.

So Tidal hit number 1 in the app store, and the album is being pirated more than any other before it. I'd say that we've learned two different things. First, people really wanted to hear Kanye's new album. Second, a lot of people really don't like the fact that they can't actually purchase the music, so that they can listen to it whenever they want, without having to pay $10 a month.

Now what's perhaps most heartbreaking about this story is that if you keep up with Kanye's Twitter feed, you'll know that he's in dire straits. He's resorted to begging Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg for $1 billion. He's got a lot of personal debt, after all. And no, I'm not kidding. Kanye West really shouted out to Mark Zuckerberg to ask for a huge sum of money. I can't make this sort of thing up. (Btw Kanye, the guy invented Facebook. Maybe you should try contacting him on there.)

Alright, I've gotten a little off track. Exploring the depths of his Twitter feed is enough to distract anyone.  I could spend the rest of the day quoting the bizarre things that he's been tweeting, but there's just not enough room here for it. I'd suggest taking a look at his Twitter, and just see how far down the rabbit hole his ego goes. But he really does spend a lot of time talking about how great of an artist he is. And he must believe that his art is so great that it is worth paying $10 for the rest of your life to listen to it.

Yes, you can get other content on Tidal, but the fact that you cannot ever (legally) purchase a copy of it just shows how out of touch he is with the rest of the world, and more importantly, his fans. But then again, maybe we should all just enjoy the greatness.