It was Wednesday night (Jan 27) – the same day as Rihanna dropped her first single “Work”. Rumors swirled that she was slated to drop the album at the stroke of midnight, but after years of anxious waiting and speculation ANTI finally appeared on TIDAL …. early. At first, it was only for a few minutes before it was quickly taken down. But it was too late. The entire Internet took notice and promptly lost its collective mind.
A few hours later, Rih released Anti for real and for free, tweeting out a code for a limited number of complimentary downloads. While some less educated fans thought it became free as a defensive move to own TIDAL’s mishap, others smelled a publicity stunt, wondering whether the entire thing was engineered to escalate Anti’s high levels of hype.
Either way, it worked: The album was downloaded 1.4 million times in 15 hours and is already certified platinum.
So what’s the real story behind the leak? In published reports, a representative for the company admitted, “Look, we know what happened here, in the sense that unfortunately we still rely on systems, and there was a system error.” “But,” she added, “I don’t think it hurt it at all.”
It’s true: All in all, the only entity whose #brand has been harmed by the whole thing is Tidal, a service that everybody’s already sort of suspicious of. To add insult to injury, according to Spin, Billboard and Nielsen are not counting Anti’s free downloads toward their totals. “There were conversations [with Billboard] early on when this promotion and partnership started, but ultimately it became about giving music directly to the fans,” explained the rep. “While everyone would’ve loved to have it count, the thing that we’re focused on here is that it’s number one.”