Jay-Z ‘4:44’ Lock-Out: New Tidal Subscribers Upset They Can’t Access Album

Jay Z
Stephen Lovekin/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Not everyone is happy about Jay-Z’s new album “4:44.” A number of Shawn Carter’s fans took to Twitter Friday to vent about the star’s release strategy for the album. “4:44” is exclusive to Tidal, the streaming music service co-owned by Jay-Z himself. However, fans who signed up for a new account Friday often faced an unwelcome surprise.

That’s because “4:44” isn’t just exclusive to Tidal, it’s also limited to existing Tidal subscribers, as well as anyone who signs up for a new trial subscription via Sprint. The mobile carrier acquired a third of Tidal earlier this year, and now promises Sprint subscribers 6 free months of Tidal, plus access to “4:44.” This means that anyone who signed up for a trial of Tidal after the album dropped Thursday night hasn’t been able to listen to it — which predictably didn’t go over well with everyone:


A number of users took to Twitter Friday to suggest that they might simply get the album elsewhere, which likely includes unauthorized streams or pirate sites.

The angry voices even included renowned producer Mark Ronson, best known for for producing “Uptown Funk” as well as Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.”

Ronson went on to praise the album later on, but still called the promotional restrictions “general bureaucratic bulls—.”

What made matters worse was the fact that Tidal had been less than transparent about these restrictions. Online advertising for the album redirected users to Sprint’s website, asking them to sign up for a mobile plan, or signing with their existing Sprint credentials, to get access to the album.

But anyone visiting Tidal’s website Friday instead got to see a web player to listen to song snippets of the album. That web player included a link to “try Tidal now,” suggesting that users who signed up for a new trial account would get access to the album.

What’s more, Tidal also sent out emails to past subscribers Friday morning that didn’t explicitly make mention of the Sprint exclusivity, and instead forwarded recipients to a page that allowed them to sign up for a free trial account.

Past users who reactivated their existing account with a known email address did get access to the album, but anyone signing up for a new test account didn’t. All of that apparently led to plenty of users buying subscriptions to Tidal to stream the album, only to find out that they wouldn’t be able to.

Fans that felt duped also included MediaREDEF founder and CEO Jason Hirschhorn:

Hirschhorn, one should add, recently joined the board of competing music streaming service Pandora — but that didn’t stop him from unloading on Tidal Friday:

There’s some good news for users who weren’t able to stream the album even after signing up for Tidal: Sources told Variety that the album will land on Apple Music in a week.

Updated: 6:45pm: This post was updated with additional details on who does and who doesn’t get access to “4:44.”