After Beyonce debuted her latest album Lemonade as an hour-long cinematic feature on HBO last Saturday (April 23), you either needed an HBO Now or Tidal account to stream the special, and you couldn’t hear the audio version without Tidal. While this exclusive deal made many begrudgingly sign up for Tidal trial accounts, the streaming service has lost its grip on the record less than 48 hours later.
As of today (April 25), you can buy the album from iTunes and Tidal for $17.99, so you don’t need to add another recurring monthly payment in order to hear Beyoncé’s latest. But don’t go rushing to delete that Tidal account, because while Apple can sell downloads of Lemonade, the album isn’t available to stream on Apple Music, giving Tidal the exclusive on audio streaming rights.
Tidal subscriptions start at $9.99 a month, with a $19.99 per month option to get lossless audio. Not only does that fee allow you to stream the album that Twitter couldn't stop talking about this weekend, but it also gives you exclusive access to stream Prince’s entire discography, which the service has kept a lock on since its launch in 2015.
While Tidal owned exclusive rights to other recent high-profile releases like Rihanna’s “ANTI” and Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo,” both of those albums wound up for sale and available for streaming on competitors like Spotify and Google Music in the months that followed the original release.
Unfettered and early access to these records may be enough to make Tidal’s $9.99 fee worth it for devoted fans, but if these exclusive deals continue to have shorter and shorter windows, subscribers might look elsewhere.