The biggest announcement in the music industry last week was the details of Tidal, a new streaming service kickstarted by Jay Z and held by a number of big-name performers such as Beyoncé, Kanye West, Jason Aldean and Jack White. The future looks promising for the service as part owner Rihanna has released two tracks—"Bitch Better Have My Money" and "American Oxygen"—for exclusive streaming on the service. Billboard brings up a good question however: How will serving Tidal exclusively affect the way a song or album charts?
Let's consider "Bitch Better Have My Money" as an example. That single came in at no. 23 on the Hot 100 after being released last week. That songs chart takes most of its influence from singles sales, and you can bet that a new single from Rihanna will do well on iTunes. Two other factors come into the equation however...radio play and streams. Radio is another place where the song will probably remain unaffected but streams will be impacted mightily: Industry estimates suggest that up to 80 percent of "major labels streams," according to Billboard. The publication estimated that if songs were taken from all major streaming services and isolated to Tidal, it would lose 95 percent of its streaming numbers.
As those Spotify numbers suggest, although Tidal may have seemed to take the music world by storm last week, it will be a long time before it can compete at that level in terms of streams. Another issue is that Nielsen Soundscan, the official tracking system for music sales, doesn't actually follow Tidal yet. If, entirely theoretically, "Bitch Better Have My Money" was streamed a literal billion times on Tidal, it wouldn't even register yet. No word on when Jay Z's service will be brought into the fold.
How much of an impact does this all have? Perhaps not so much. Billboard estimated how Nicki Minaj's "Truffle Butter" (no. 15 currently) would have fared if it were a Tidal exclusive. It dropped only four spots to no. 19.