• 02.17.16

“Life Of Pablo” Was Illegally Downloaded Over 500,000 Times And It Was Kanye’s Fault

This is the tweet that prompted so many illegal downloads of Kanye West’s new album.

“Life Of Pablo” Was Illegally Downloaded Over 500,000 Times And It Was Kanye’s Fault

After a seemingly endless hype cycle, Kanye West released his seventh album, The Life of Pablo, around midnight on February 13th. Announced during an appearance on Saturday Night Live, it was a bombastic end to a protracted lead-up that played out largely in real-time through tracklist-shakeups, title polls, and one reputation-scorching Bill Cosby endorsement. Considering Twitter’s place in the rollout, it’s only fitting that one of Kanye’s tweets may have cost him a fortune in potential sales.


“Never say never” is a smart rule of thumb, and so is not saying never three times in a row to the prospect of letting fans give you money in the way they prefer. By shooting down the idea of releasing The Life Of Pablo anywhere but Jay-Z’s music service, Tidal, and a stream on his own website, Kanye more or less threw down the gauntlet for Tidagnostics to find other means of procuring a copy. (And even some of those who signed up with the company to get it had problems with the service’s payment system.) Although the limited distribution did secure Tidal a huge jump to the top of Apple’s app list, the album itself is at the top of a more unfortunate list.

According to, The Life of Pablo is “currently leading The Pirate Bay’s list of most shared music torrents by a landslide. At the time of writing [on February 16], close to 10,000 people were sharing a copy of the most popular torrent simultaneously, something we haven’t seen with a music release before.” The album was pirated 500,000 times in its first day.

Tidal has existed for less than year, and its time on Earth has been fraught. There have been three CEOs, and the service is at least partially to blame for Rihanna’s ANTI having a lackluster debut. The idea behind Tidal seemed to involve giving consumers another choice for paying for music. Making this service the only way to pay for desperately anticipated music, though, is the kind of thing that prompts reasonable people to choose stealing it.

Stream two songs from The Life of Pablo for free on SoundCloud below:

[via TorrentFreak]

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.