My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal.
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 15, 2016
By now, we’ve all accepted that Kayne West lives in a different reality than us regular two-feet-on-the-ground folks, but we’ve just learned his alternate realm also has its own measure of time too. Just two short months after publically declaring that his newest album The Life of Pablo, would “never, never” be on sale anywhere except on Tidal, we
gleefully find the album available for download on competing services like Spotify. Before you start serving up shade-tastic doses of humble pie to the self-proclaimed “king of pop,” you should know that despite this “unconventional” roll out – and being illegally downloaded more than a half-million times – his album is expected to hit number one on the Billboard charts the week of April 23. So, it might be a little difficult for Kayne to hear critics over the collective sound of millions of people playing his album and the loud ring of the ATM as he deposits his multi-million-dollar check. That being said, is it ever ok for someone to go back on their word? Kayne’s declaration that “you can only get it on Tidal” wasn’t just boasting to the public, it was also a promise to Tidal’s CEO – and his long-time friend – Jay-Z. And, aren’t promises to friends the most sacred pacts that people can make? I know if my bestie ever broke a promise to me, I’d be hurt for decades – and not just hurt – I’d also be questioning the trustworthiness of everyone that has been or ever will be.
So, at what point is it acceptable to break a promise or violate an agreement Kanye-style?
After looking more closely at Kayne’s situation, I’ve come up with a few examples of when it may be ok to go back on your word: When the person or business you’ve made an agreement with doesn’t have the proper infrastructure in place. There are so many issues with Tidal, but I’ll only focus on the ones that directly impact Kayne’s The Life of Pablo. Tidal doesn’t report download numbers making it impossible to independently assess if an album is doing well outside of its platform. So, there was no way to officially rank the success of Kanye’s album in relation to albums not on Tidal. Also, the fact that Tidal lacked the resources, will or know-how to stem the tide of more than 500,000 illegal downloads of the album through other platforms represented (1) a ton of lost revenue for Kayne and (2) – the large percentage of his fans that were never going to convert to the platform. When the reason you made the agreement is no longer true. Tidal’s entire claim to fame (besides being run by one of the most famous people in the world) was that it was going to treat artist fairly and ensure they got a better share of the financial pie. Turns out that was just a lofty mission statement shared at an A-list filled press conference. Tidal has been accused left and right of no properly compensating artist within its platform and is fielding dozens of lawsuits from artists in relation to these allegations.
It’s hard to fault someone – even Kanye “I compare myself to Jesus” West – for walking back on a promise when the other party isn’t holding up their end of the bargain. When your life circumstances change so drastically that your agreement will do more harm than good for you and your family.
Being $53 million in debt is no laughing matter – although using twitter to ask the founder of Facebook for a billion dollars kinda is.
Mark Zuckerberg invest 1 billion dollars into Kanye West ideas — KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 14, 2016
Setting aside the fact that Kayne’s better half is the biggest reality star in the world; Yeezy has mouths to feed and
adorable babies to clothe.
To choose to not re-evaluate an agreement that limits earning potential while experiencing an extreme change in financial circumstances would be absolutely crazy, especially when others depend on you.
Sometimes life gets really real and you have to make tough decisions to get back on track.
When you’ve discussed it with the person you’ve made an agreement with.
It would be hard to imagine that Kayne West did not have a heart-to-heart with Jay-Z before putting his album on Spotify. For one thing, it would have made for some awkward playdates for Blue Ivy and North West and their moms. For another, the media would have had a field day playing up the latest Kayne feud.
It only makes sense that Jay-Z was ok with – although I bet not absolutely ecstatic about – The Life of Pablo being made available on other platforms.
In an ideal world, you should only be making promises and agreements with people and businesses that have your best interest at heart. In the event that the agreement no longer works for you, you should be able to be honest with them about that fact and have no fear that they mean you ill.
Things don’t always work out as planned, but a good friend and business partner will always be flexible with you when they can.