The Music Streaming Wars Are Getting Ugly


Fans waited four years for Frank Ocean to put out a followup to his Grammy-winning album Channel Orange, but when he finally released it this month, some listeners were upset to learn it was only streaming on Apple Music.


You’re tellin me I switched to Tidal & Frank gotta go and drop an album exclusively for Apple Music?


one person tweeted.

“I do not have time for you Frank Ocean.”


+ Why Music Streaming Is The Future

But this is just the tip of the iceberg, wait until you read about the new Britney Spears feud with Apple music below.

Ocean’s release was just the latest example of tech companies vying for exclusives on new albums in a bid to attract customers. It’s a tactic that has become more common over the last 18 months as streaming services try to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive and combative market.

Apple Music, built on top of the company’s $3 billion purchase of Beats, and Tidal, the service owned by Jay Z, have been the most aggressive in signing up exclusives. These include Ocean, Drake and Taylor Swift for Apple and Prince, Beyonce and Kanye West for Tidal.

The exclusives can go on indefinitely, in the case of Prince, or last as little as 24 hours. The rewards can be significant: Tidal got more than one million customers to create accounts in the first week that Beyonce’s album Lemonade was released, according to the New York Times.

The two companies have clashed with each other in the process. After a rumor that Apple (AAPL, Tech30) would buy Tidal, West tweeted that “this Tidal Apple beef is f***ng up the music game.”

Apple and Tidal may have also angered Spotify, which was recently reported to have penalized artists for signing exclusive deals with rivals by making their music harder to find. (Spotify later denied it.)

Britney Spears “Glory” Album Streaming Feud

Britney Spears is currently getting double the promotion — and half the music piracy — because of an escalating pissing match between Apple Music and Spotify.  The feud started when Britney Spears backed out of an exclusive release arrangement with Apple Music, even though Apple music spent heavily on a massive advertising and promotional push for her glory Album. Which included a pricey pre-VMA television ad featuring Kevin Bacon, and featured her new “Glory” album playing on Apple Music.

Britney’s sudden reversal seems mostly due to the catastrophic Frank Ocean album exclusive release leak, as well as allegations that Spotify was retaliating against artists that sign Apple Music exclusives.

In the end it all worked out for Britney though as she is now getting the total opposite of a Spotify retaliation, and also racking up big streams in the process.

More disputes may be coming. Amazon (AMZN, Tech30), which has a track record of bidding to stream exclusive videos, is said to be planning to launch a streaming music option as soon as next month.

Pandora(P) is rumored to be working on an on-demand streaming service too, moving beyond online radio.

One thing is for sure, the music streaming wars are definitely heating up fast. But who will come out on top?


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