Prince unleashed his new album to music retailers on Monday following a week-long exclusivity pact with Jay Z’s streaming service, Tidal. The album, HITNRUN Phase One, is now available on iTunes, Amazon and other outlets, including Tidal itself, which for the first time is letting subscribers and non-subscribers alike make album purchases on the site. Also surprising: Tidal’s move to sell the Purple One’s new album in the long-beleaguered CD format.
Yes, a streaming service is now selling a compact disc, directly to consumers.
Tidal is offering the album both physically and digitally, matching iTunes’ price of $9.99 for MP3 along with a FLAC-quality download for $17.99. Buying the CD on Tidal, however, will cost you more than $25 after shipping.
A Tidal spokesperson confirmed with Billboard on Monday that this is the first time it has offered digital download and CD versions of an album.
Whether Tidal plans on expanding CD sales to other artists remains to be seen. The rep said it was up to artists to choose whether to offer alternative formats of their music on the service.
Also unclear is whether Tidal will continue to open its store to non-subscribers. During the process of purchasing the Prince disc, users are told they do not need a paid subscription. “Buying music from TIDAL.com does not require an active subscription, but you need to create a free account so you can login and download your music,” reads a message.
Prince announced the exclusive streaming distribution pact with Tidal last month, but did not specify how long it would last. In July he began removing his music from every streaming service, except Tidal.
“After one meeting, it was obvious that Jay Z and the team he has assembled at TIDAL recognize and applaud the effort that real musicians put in2 their craft 2 achieve the very best they can at this pivotal time in the music industry,” Prince said in a statement in early August. “TIDAL have honored Us with a non-restrictive arrangement that once again allows Us to continue making art in the fashion We’ve grown accustomed 2 and We’re Extremely grateful 4 their generous support.”
UPDATE: A Tidal spokesperson confirmed that this is the first time the service has sold digital downloads or CDs by an artist.