Whether one loves Kanye West or hates him; admires his music or thinks he's an overproduced hack; agrees he's a genius, or thinks he's a sad commentary on intellectual life in America; there is one thing about Kanye about which there is no disagreement.
Even, it turns out, things that are not otherwise popular. Selling designer sneakers for vast sums on eBay is amazing in its own regard of course, but not exactly blazing new commerce ground. Sneaker heads have been shelling out insane sums for shoes for decades and show enthusiasts in general have been around for thousands of years.
Music streaming service, Tidal, is described as by artists, for artists — but when stacked up against Apple and Spotify, it didn't do much to rouse consumer passion.
Yeezy, it seems, has reversed that trend, for the time being anyway. 'Ye has released his new album, "The Life of Pablo," exclusively on Tidal. Kanye had originally planned to release the album jointly on his own site and Tidal, but at the last minute made it a Tidal-only joint for the first seven days. In a week it will be available for download on iTunes.
Kanye owns a small part of Tidal through friend and owner Jay-Z, and emphasized that all "music lovers" should subscribe to Tidal to hear the album.
And sign up they did, shooting Tidal to the top of the downloads in music apps.
Kanye is not the first artist to do this. Rihanna and Beyonce have done similar tricks, which tend to pump subscriptions. How many stay around past the free-trial period after streaming that favorite album? Well, the math is still being worked out there. But if Tidal can keep racking up enough music exclusives - well, it might have a shot in the streaming wars after all.