Eager fans were disappointed to discover on Friday that JAY-Z's 4:44 is exclusive to TIDAL — but apparently only for existing subscribers. (Bustle reached out to TIDAL for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.) This means if you were hoping to simply sign up for a free trial to the music service to the listen to the album, you won't currently be able to. Naturally, fans are wondering how long the Tidal 4:44 exclusive period will last.
Currently, anyone who attempts to access 4:44 with a new TIDAL account is met with the following message:
"JAY-Z 4:44 is only accessible to Sprint/TIDAL customers and all pre-existing TIDAL accounts during the exclusive period. Switch to Sprint and get 6 complimentary months of TIDAL + access to JAY-Z 4:44 and all future TIDAL X Sprint exclusive content."
This is incredibly limiting for fans. However, there might still be hope that this exclusive period will end soon, and fans will soon be able to listen to 4:44 without any restrictions.
While the date has not yet been confirmed, Billboard is reporting that JAY-Z's album will be available to stream on Apple Music and iTunes next week. It would seem that once that happens, the exclusivity window would end across the board, making it accessible for all TIDAL users as well. Unfortunately, as noted by the publication, no set timetable has been set for the album to be made available across other major streaming services.
On Friday, many people, including producer Mark Ronson, took to Twitter to express their frustration with the fact that the album wasn't accessible to new Tidal customers. While several simply bemoaned the fact that they'd already used up their free trials in order to enjoy past Tidal exclusives from Kanye West and Beyoncé, others simply raged against needing both a Sprint account and an existing Tidal account in order to hear 4:44.
Naturally, this led to a number of people online expressing that they felt forced to try some less than legal options with which to hunt down the album elsewhere.
This is all only adding to the growing debate over whether streaming exclusives are damaging to the music industry and to fans' ability to enjoy of an artist's work. In August 2016, for example, there were reports that Universal was to be the first major music label to "outlaw" distribution exclusives, just a few days following the Apple-exclusive release of Frank Ocean's Blonde.
As was proven by the exclusive streaming release of Blonde, and now with JAY-Z's 4:44, exclusive streaming deals seem to restrict fans' ability to enjoy an album. Here's hoping that the exclusive period for 4:44 will be dropped soon, so the rest of his fans can enjoy the album too.