Someone Needs to tell Tidal what 'Exclusive' Means

Tidal has a problem, and it's one they could probably fix by picking up a dictionary. The streaming music service touts new albums as exclusive deals, which then show up on other services days or weeks later—or in the case of Beyoncé's Lemonade, within 24 hours. "Exclusive," it seems, doesn't mean what Tidal thinks it means.

Beyonc�'s Lemonade isn't as exclusive as Tidal would likeBeyoncé's Lemonade isn't as exclusive as Tidal would like

Lemonade was released on Saturday and quickly set the internet on fire with its laundry list of songs that seemed to attack Beyoncé's husband, Tidal partner Jay Z, for cheating on her. Everyone just had to have the album, and since the only way to get it was through Tidal, people signed up. That's good news for Tidal, and despite the fact that his wife went all Lemonade on him in public, it was probably pretty good news for Jay Z, too.

Then, only 24 hours later, Lemonade showed up on the iTunes Store for purchase. That's bad news for Tidal. The problem is that Tidal promotes new content as exclusive, but it doesn't stay that way for long, and in many cases it isn't obvious that the exclusivity is for a very short time frame.

That's exactly what happened a few weeks ago when Kanye West took to Twitter where he was very clear that his new album, The Life of Pablo, was a Tidal exclusive. "My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale... You can only get it on Tidal," he said.

Just over a month later, his album was available for streaming on Apple Music.

In both cases, Tidal gained new subscribers under the pretense of exclusive content. That's exactly the opposite of building good faith with customers, and is a pretty poor way to set itself apart from the competition.

Spotify has great user-made playlist features, Apple Music has amazing human-curated playlists and Beats 1 Radio, and Tidal has exclusive content that quickly shows up on other services. Tidal has a track record now, and it's going to get harder to convince potential subscribers to take future "exclusive" claims at face value.

Maybe Tidal should start qualifying its exclusive claims before new subscribers get angry enough to go Lemonade on the service.