Jay-Z released his thirteenth solo album on Friday (June 30), and it’s been going down a storm with critics.
The confessional nature of 4:44 has even led some to suggest it’s something of an ideal companion piece to Beyonce’s acclaimed Lemonade album.
But it’s not just popular with music reviewers – fans love it too. Especially in the US.
How do we know? Not because of stats from TIDAL and Sprint, who have been handed the LP as an exclusive release (for now, anyway).
But because of data from piracy sites like The Pirate Bay and KickAssTorrents.
According to piracy monitoring and analytics specialist MUSO, 4:44 was illegally downloaded just under a million times (971,196) in its opening 72 hours on the market.
Some 56% of these downloads took place in the US, says MUSO’s data. The UK was the second biggest contributor with a 5% share.
Are these figures the direct result of the TIDAL exclusivity of 4:44 – which remains unavailable on the likes of Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer and iTunes?
It’s hard to say.
Other MUSO data shows that Drake’s album-come-playlist More Life was illegally downloaded 1.32m times in its opening three days back in March, with 38% of activity in the US, 7% in Canada and 5% in the UK.
Unlike 4:44, More Life was officially released on a range of services, including both Apple Music and Deezer.
Andy Chatterley, CEO and Co-Founder at MUSO, suggested that Drake’s bigger numbers might “suggest that piracy is not as dependent on exclusive windowing as we may believe” – but also pointed out that it may simply be influenced by Drake’s comparative modern-day global popularity.
“It’s clear that there’s always a significant audience proactively searching for content illegally – and a big opportunity for content owners to engage with this audience and direct them to licensed channels,” said Chatterley.
“According to Billboard, Drake’s album sold a combined figure of 505K sales in its first week, clearly losing significant share to illegal downloads.”
One thing we know for sure: Snoop Dogg was amongst the near-million people who obtained 4:44 illegally over the weekend.
The rapper has admitted he was left bemused by the TIDAL exclusivity of 4:44… and so a friend ‘bootlegged’ it for him.
British startup MUSO has just raised $3.2m (£2.5m) in a Series A funding from Harwell Capital.
Its tools enable rights-holders to not only protect content, but also investigate the behavior of consumers of illegal content – even connecting with them and redirecting them to official channels.