Trouble continues to brew between Tidal and one of its most high-profile artists, with Variety confirming earlier claims from TMZ that Kanye West is threatening to break his exclusivity contract with the JAY-Z-backed streaming service. At the core of the conflict: money West’s lawyers say he was owed for marketing and video production for The Life Of Pablo, an album that reportedly inspired 1.5 million people to try out Tidal. (West’s team also says he’s owed subscriber bonuses for triggering that boost.)
Variety confirms that the conflict was escalated from implied shade on verses up to actual legal action, with West’s attorneys issuing letters demanding payment. (These letters have reportedly been ignored; Tidal claims that Kanye isn’t getting paid because he didn’t deliver on promised content.) West is reportedly asking for $3 million; meanwhile, people have been quick to point out that Tidal recently got a massive, $200 million cash infusion from Sprint, which bought a major stake in the company.
Exclusivity is one of the biggest weapons in Tidal’s arsenal; Rihanna, Beyoncé, Kanye, and JAY-Z himself have all successfully driven traffic to the Spotify and Apple Music competitor by making it the first place their latest albums can be heard. If West breaks from the fold, it’ll present a hole in the service’s armor the next time the celebrated rapper releases new music. (Not that West’s given any hints about when that might actually be.)