Rihanna's 'ANTI': How a Rumored Tidal Exclusive Release Would Affect the Album

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for WESTBURY ROAD ENTERTAINMENT LLC
Rihanna at Rihanna's 8th album artwork reveal for "ANTI" at MAMA Gallery on Oct. 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, Calif.  

As the buzz for Rihanna's eighth studio album ANTI continues to grow, the latest rumors indicate the album could arrive this Friday, Nov. 27, with a one-week exclusive on Tidal before going wide to other distributors. And if that's the case, the Roc Nation singer can expect lower than usual first week streams.

At Tidal's official launch event at the end of March, the focus was placed on exclusives and special releases from its artist owners, which includes Rihanna. But the numbers over the past eight months show that Tidal exclusives tend to put up much smaller numbers than competitors like Spotify and YouTube.

Take, for example, Rihanna's latest single, April's "American Oxygen," which had a one-week exclusive on Tidal before being serviced to other streaming outlets. In its first week, the song received 142,000 U.S. streams from Tidal, dropping to 71,000 in week two, according to Nielsen Music. In that second week, streams from Spotify and YouTube counted more than one million apiece, with 79,000 coming from other services in the U.S. That gave Spotify and YouTube a 96.7 percent share of total streams over the period.

Madonna's one-day Tidal exclusive "Bitch I'm Madonna," released June 18, experienced a similar result, as Spotify and YouTube accounted for 98 percent -- with 91 percent coming from YouTube -- of the song's total first-week streams, despite having the song for one fewer day on their platform (not to mention Tidal's technical issues with the video release, for which it apologized). Lil Durk's Def Jam debut Remember My Name, which came out June 7, did not have a Tidal exclusive and was released to all platforms simultaneously; in its first week, Spotify and YouTube accounted for 83.9 percent of its total streams.

Things get slightly more complex after Apple Music's launch at the end of June, as Spotify and YouTube's shares dropped considerably with the new service. Drake and Future's chart-topping What A Time To Be Alive -- released Sept. 24 after Drake announced his partnership with Apple Music -- had a much more even split, with Spotify and YouTube getting 46.8 percent of streams, which, again, probably reflects Apple Music's share more than Tidal's. But compared to Fetty Wap's self-titled debut album, released the week of Oct. 1, Spotify and YouTube claimed 74.7 percent of total streams.

There are a couple reasons for this particular drop off, of course. The biggest is that both Spotify and YouTube have free tiers, while Apple Music (after its three-month trial period ended) and Tidal do not. The other is scale: Spotify claims 75 million active users around the world (and 20 million subscribers), while YouTube's monthly users are over a billion. In contrast, Tidal announced at the end of September that they'd surpassed one million subscribers, while Apple Music leveled out at 6.5 million in October after its free trial period netted them an initial 11 million.

Simply put, Spotify and YouTube dominate the streaming landscape, and to cut the two pillars out for a week means that Rihanna's ANTI numbers are bound to suffer during the period of exclusivity -- if she does decide to go that route. But with an artist like Rihanna, all avenues are still on the table, including the rumored Samsung release a la Jay Z's Magna Carta...Holy Grail


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