Kanye Tricked Fans to Save the Life of Tidal, According to Lawsuit

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on April 20, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Kanye West makes many wild claims and who can blame him? He gets a lot of attention and people do listen, as evidenced by a recent lawsuit filed against him in federal court in San Francisco. The suit targets Kanye and the music streaming company Tidal, demanding $5 million in damages, and saying the defendants tricked 2 million people into subscribing to the service.

Early this year, Kanye and Tidal promised prospective users a free one-month trial and that his latest album, The Life of Pablo, would be on the streaming service exclusively. But six weeks after its release, the album was available for download on Apple's iTunes and on Kanye's own website, and Tidal now has valuable data on millions of people lured by Kanye's false promise. The plaintiffs call this a bait and switch tactic.

The Life of Tidal

The Life of Pablo, Kanye's latest album, caused a sensation in great part because he makes noise and he said it would only be available on Tidal. The music streaming service, which Jay-Z bought last year and in which Kanye is invested, was ailing financially. So, initially, the move was seen as shrewd -- within a month of the album's release the service reportedly tripled its subscriber base.

Tidal's claim to fame is that it is owned my pop's mega-stars but the company has not managed to inspire music listeners, who are perhaps not as concerned as the stars themselves about how much money musical royalty makes. Kanye's fans wanted to get their hands on the album and the only way to do it was Tidal ... or so it seemed. But then he started selling The Life of Pablo everywhere, contradicting his initial promise.

Now he is being sued by people who feel he fooled them. Their attorney, Jay Edelson, told Rolling Stone, "Kanye has the power to send one tweet out into the world and get 2 million people to act on it. This suit is about holding him accountable when he abuses that power."

According to the plaintiffs' filings, Jay-Z's S. Carter Enterprises, which owns Tidal, never intended for TLOP to be a Tidal exclusive, nor did Kanye himself. They were trying to get consumers to prop up the company. "To the contrary, they -- knowing that Tidal was in trouble but not wanting to invest their own money to save the company -- chose to fraudulently induce millions of American consumers into paying for Tidal's rescue."

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