Jay-Z quietly removes catalog from Apple Music and Spotify as Tidal continues fight for exclusives

Both Spotify and Apple Music users today have noticed that albums from hip-hop artist Jay-Z, who happens to be owner of competing music streaming service Tidal, have been removed from the services.

It appears that most of the artist’s original albums have been removed while some content where he is a featured artist or collaborator, and perhaps not the sole owner of the content, remains available for streaming. Tidal representatives have not officially announced the move, but Spotify’s support team is confirming the removal to users of the service on social media (via MacRumors).

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Tidal was most recently in the news when Sprint decided to acquire a 33% stake back in January in a move that would allow it to offer customers exclusive content and other tie-ins with the music streaming service. That followed acquisition rumors for Tidal over recent months with Spotify, Google and others reportedly showing interest.

At the time of Sprint’s acquisition, questions surrounding Tidal’s growth and subscriber numbers emerged with Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv claiming Tidal had inflated its subscriber numbers. Those estimates claimed the service had around 850,000 subscribers vs the 3 million it reported back in March of last year. The latest estimates late last month for Apple Music put the service at over 40M users on mobile, leading Spotify by 10M, despite Spotify claiming 50 million paying subscribers versus a total 20 million for Apple.

The news that Jay-Z has removed his albums from the services, if it turns out to not just be a temporary mistake, would be notable as Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal and the other services have continued to fight for subscribers with exclusive content.

Spotify and Apple Music are also increasingly stepping up efforts with original content, Spotify most recently announcing plans for its first original series as a counterpart to Apple’s Carpool Karaoke, both arriving exclusive for subscribers next month.

The competition has also increased abroad as Google Play Music this month undercut Apple Music in India as both companies play the long game.

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Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & Electrek.co. He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.