A Kanye West fan has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the rapper, alleging that he and Tidal “fraudulently induced consumers to subscribe to Tidal” under the guise that the album would only be made available on that platform. According to plaintiff Justin Baker-Rhett’s lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco on Monday and seeks upwards of $84 million, West fraudulently promised fans that his album, The Life of Pablo, would only be available on Tidal, the music streaming service owned by Jay Z. As a result, “consumers were uniformly tricked into handing over their private data and credit card information by a singular mistruth.”
According to Baker-Rhett’s suit, despite statements from Tidal and West that the album was exclusive to Tidal and that it would never be available elsewhere, which very well may amount to express warranties (and subsequent breaches of those warranties), West’s album was subsequently released for free on Apple Music and Spotify. The complaint states: “Contrary to Mr. West’s representations, the purportedly ‘exclusive’ access to The Life of Pablo that Tidal subscribers were promised was short lived. A month and a half after The Life of Pablo’s initial release, Mr. West made the album available through Tidal’s biggest competitors, Apple Music and Spotify. He also began selling the album through his own online marketplace.”
The complaint goes on to allege that neither West nor Tidal “ever intended The Life of Pablo to run exclusively on the Tidal platform. To the contrary, they—knowing that Tidal was in trouble but not wanting to invest their own money to save the company—chose to fraudulently induce millions of American consumers into paying for Tidal’s rescue.” [Note: An array of reports suggest that Tidal, which has struggled to keep a constant CEO, has been in significant financial trouble since it was relaunched in March 2015].
And rescued Tidal subscribers did. Baker-Rhett alleges that “Mr. West’s unequivocal declaration of Tidal’s exclusive access to his album had a profound impact on Tidal’s business. New subscriptions to the streaming platform skyrocketed, tripling its consumer base from 1 million to 3 million subscribers in just over a month […] Mr. West’s promise of exclusive access to The Life of Pablo conferred an enormous benefit upon Tidal: a tripled subscriber base, replete with access to the personal and financial data of its more than two million new subscribers.”
As a result of the defendants’ “deceptive marketing practices,” Baker-Rhett is seeking damages and an “order requiring Tidal to delete the private information of Plaintiff and the Class members that it collected, cancel all outstanding negative options of any free trials created during the class period, and cease any monetization efforts relying on the illegally obtained information.” And last but not least, Baker-Rhett has asked the court to certify his proposed class action lawsuit, which would enable “the two million new users acquired as a result of its purportedly exclusive access to The Life of Pablo and which are worth as much as $84 million to Tidal” to join in the lawsuit and share in the ultimate settlement amount paid by West and Tidal.