Kanye West has settled a lawsuit with a fan who sued the artist in 2016 over false claims that The Life of Pablo would be available to stream exclusively on Tidal. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, according to court documents, but all charges involved have been dropped.
The court documents specifically state that Justin Baker-Rhett (plaintiff) and West, “hereby stipulate and agree to the dismissal of Plaintiff’s individual claims with prejudice and the putative class’s claims without prejudice, with each party to bear its own attorney fees and costs.” A potential class-action lawsuit that was threatened in 2016 will also not move forward, according to the documents.
Justin Baker-Rhett, a Kanye West fan and seemingly unhappy recipient of a Tidal subscription, signed up for the service to stream the album. He was prompted to do so by a tweet from West, which has since been deleted. “My album will never never never be on Apple,” West tweeted in February 2016. “And it will never be for sale … You can only get it on Tidal.”
A couple of weeks later, however, The Life of Pablo was available to stream on both Apple Music and Spotify. Baker-Rhett felt conned into purchasing a Tidal subscription, which cost $9.99 per month at the time. There are still a few Kanye albums that are not available on Spotify, like his collaborative album with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne.
Although The Life of Pablo is everywhere, West’s statements at the time were indicative of the exclusivity wars playing out across streaming platforms. Tidal was supposed to be the exclusive home for a number of artists, who were trying to take back their music from streaming giants Apple and Spotify.
Since 2016, however, the attitude has shifted as Apple and Spotify have cut new, more artist-friendly deals with labels, some of which let artists keep their newest tracks from being immediately streamed for free, and musicians have warmed to the reality of the streaming market. Now, most albums are available to stream across all platforms. While some artists, like Drake and Taylor Swift, still work within exclusivity windows — giving a streaming platform like Apple Music a few weeks of exclusivity before making it available everywhere — it’s rare that an album is available on just one streaming service.
It’s unclear if Baker-Rhett received any payment from West, but at least he can rest easy knowing that West probably isn’t a big fan of Tidal anymore, either.