A California man filed a lawsuit Monday accusing Jay Z and Kanye West of lying to millions of fans by promising exclusive access to West's latest album on music streaming service Tidal, only for it to later be for sale elsewhere.
Jay Z's company S. Carter Enterprises launched Tidal in 2015, touting it as more artist-friendly and providing higher quality audio streaming than competitors. While West was promoting his upcoming album, he tweeted to his 22 million followers that it would only be available on Tidal. He also owns a stake in the company.
According to the lawsuit's complaint, Justin Baker-Rhett immediately downloaded the Tidal app and provided his personal and payment information.
"Baker-Rhett subscribed to Tidal specifically because he was misled into believing that it was the only music platform on which The Life of Pablo album would ever be available," the complaint said.
Baker-Rhett was apparently not alone, the lawsuit alleges. Tidal's subscribers jumped from around 1 million to 3 million after the release of West's album. Baker-Rhett and his attorneys are seeking class action status so that the suit can represent anyone who signed up for the service solely for West's album.
About a month and a half later, West announced that The Life of Pablo would be available for purchase on his website as well as through streaming services including Apple Music and Spotify. In the complaint, his lawyers argue that West and SCE Enterprises violated fair business practices and defrauded consumers because they knew the album would not remain an exclusive on Tidal.
"Defendants knew that consumers would subscribe to Tidal only to get access to the new album, and in fact promoted that very fact," the complaint said, pointing to a Tidal retweet from February.
West and S. Carter Enterprises have not yet responded to the complaint.
Once The Life of Pablo was available elsewhere, Baker-Rhett cancelled his Tidal membership — but not before he was charged $9.99.
Though the actual damages to Baker-Rhett are small, the complaint alleges that with others in his position, the amount of damages exceeds the $5 million threshold to qualify for a class action. The lawsuit is also seeking potential punitive and other damages.
"Defendants reaped enormous benefits from the mass influx of new subscribers and the treasure trove of consumer data they collected from them," the complaint said.