Half a Million People Illegally Downloaded Kanye West’s New Album
Kanye West debuted his new album, The Life of Pablo, through a Tidal live stream and then made the album available exclusively on the streaming service, which costs up to $20 per month. The move has helped bolster the struggling Tidal … but hundreds of thousands of people still decided to just illegally download West’s new album instead of paying.
To be exact, more than 500,000 people downloaded pirated versions of The Life of Pablo since West released the album last week, according to the site TorrentFreak.com, with roughly 10,000 people sharing the album on the torrenting site The Pirate Bay alone.
West originally said the album would only be temporarily exclusive to Tidal—a service owned by rapper Jay Z, with West and several other artists also reportedly holding small stakes—but he reversed course this past weekend by claiming via Twitter that the music would only ever be available through the streaming service (and, specifically, not through Apple (AAPL)).
While the massive amount of illegal downloads can’t be good news for Tidal, the service does seem to have seen a boost in users since West’s album debuted online. Another superstar artist, Beyoncé (who is married to Jay Z), also helped the service rise in the ranks of most-downloaded apps in the Apple App Store recently after she partnered with Tidal to release her latest single.
Meanwhile, as Fortune‘s Mathew Ingram recently pointed out, West’s Tidal-only release strategy could be good for the streaming service, but it might also come back to hurt the rapper, unless he eventually relents and releases the album through other platforms once demand peaks.