Beyonce's "Lemonade" Hits More Streaming Services

It was April 23rd, 2016 when Beyonce released her Grammy award-winning album, Lemonade. This was her sixth-studio album and second visual album. It was met with extremely positive critical acclaim, but with one disparity that pained fans across the world - its streaming and purchasing limitations. Lemonade was released exclusively on her co-owned music streaming service, Tidal. After a few days, Beyonce’s music became available for digital purchase on services such as Amazon and iTunes, as well as physical vendors. Other than these outlets, Lemonade was not available for listening on essentially any other major music streaming platform.

After exactly three long years of waiting for fans, on April 23rd, 2019, Beyonce’s Lemonade finally hit two of the worlds biggest streaming services: Spotify and Apple Music. This news swept the media, and reignited the initial craze fans experienced over this album. As elated as the masses are that Lemonade is now available to the more general public, the question still remains as to why Beyonce made her music so hard to obtain for so long. It seems counterintuitive - you would assume an artist would want to spread their music and art as far and wide as possible, not only to publicize their creation, but also for the monetary compensation that is received from these streams.

Beyonce spoke out a year ago about her lack of presence of platforms like Spotify and Apple music, saying essentially that she didn’t care about the number of streams she has. So ultimately, the increased listening to her album that would have been achieved by putting her music on these more popular services, is just a triviality. This is a statement that clearly only a star as big as Beyonce could make, whereas an emerging artist surely wouldn't have this luxury. Tidal is a far less popular streaming service than its competitors, and this likely boils down to the cost. Tidal costs $9.99 a month for the standard service and $19.99 for the 'premium' service. In comparison, Apple Music costs $9.99 per month, or $14.99 for a family plan. And Spotify costs $9.99 per month, and has a college student discount of about $4.99. Spotify also has a “free” variation that runs with ads. Tidal is the most expensive product, which surely deters the average person to looking to this service first.

Streaming made 75% of the revenue in the music industry in 2018. This is undoubtedly a profitable area in the industry that most prolific artists would want to capitalize on and grow with. Despite these staggering numbers, Tidal still lags behind in subscriptions and users. Looking at the numbers, Spotify pays around $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream to the holder of the music rights. This number tends to vary based on things like promotional deals with artists and such. But to put it in perspective, Beyonce is an artist who has surpassed a billion streams on Spotify, even without having one of her most successful albums on the platform. If she had put Lemonade on these platforms, she would certainly be bringing in several hundred thousands of dollars more. To the up-and-coming artist, this is more significant than “a number of streams” than it is for Beyonce.

But music exclusivity is a recurring issue in the digital media market. Major artists such as Jay-Z, Gwen Stefani, Adele, Drake, and Taylor Swift have also followed suit to an extent, and they have had periods of time when their music was not available on major music streaming platforms, for their own various reasons. But in each case, it makes their music less attainable to the average person who may not be able to afford the fees of the more expensive music platforms that the artists prefer. In the end, it seems to be the fans who suffer. Hopefully, a time will come where music can be equally attainable to all demographics, and the artists will help to make this happen.

Sources: NY Times (Link 1, Link 2), The Fader, W Magazine, CNBC, Pitchfork

Image Courtesy:

“This is the cover art for the album Lemonade by the artist Beyoncé. The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the label, Parkwood and Columbia, or the graphic artist(s).” — Wikipedia