Kanye West made a grand pronouncement about three weeks ago, saying that he'd never sell another physical CD again and reminding people that his The Life of Pablo album would only ever be available for stream on TIDAL. What were his exact words again? I don't remember them verbatim, but I seem to recall something about it never being on Apple Music ever in his life forever and eva eva and eva eva. Ah yes, he wrote:
Well guess what? Right now album standout "Famous" is available on Spotify and also, you guessed it, Apple Music. So for those keeping score at home, "never never never" turned out to equal about a month.
Although...notably the entire album isn't on Spotify or Apple Music, only "Famous," and only the more recent version of "Famous" (which is about 97% the same as the old version with a different line and some audio tweaks). Why this one song? Was the move from TIDAL to Spotify and Apple a one-time thing, or can we expect the entire album to be on Spotify soon too? Or is he going to release the album from TIDAL song by song?
A lot of thinkpieces have been thought-pieced over the last few days about how Kanye only keeping the album streaming on TIDAL and updating it challenges the idea of an album as a fixed point, instead making it a constantly evolving form of musical expression. In five years he could still be changing TLOP and it could sound nothing like what it does now.
It's an interesting idea, hence all the think pieces, but I'd like to propose another line of thought - that Kanye has no real idea what he's doing. Or at the very least the people executing the logistics of his ideas are floundering around like DJ Khaled in a swimming pool. Now that "Famous" is out on other streaming services, doesn't that nullify this entire "constantly evolving" concept? Or are we looking at a future where only TIDAL has TLOP, the album, complete in its most updated form (except "Ultralight Prayer," which he released on SoundCloud), Spotify has six songs released at various iterations, Apple Music has another four and fuck it, let's show MySpace some love and give them the super rare 9th version of "Facts"? Follow all that?
If you're confused welcome to the party, this has been, without exaggeration, the most confusing album release in music history. Thousands are still waiting for an album they paid for, and if TLOP ends up on Spotify soon, they'll have thrown down money for a product they never recieved and every user on Spotify can listen to for free. It's a shame because there are some genuinely groundbreaking ideas in here, they're just being buried in mismanagement.