Rapper Lil Wayne this weekend took the wraps off of Lil WeezyAna Fest, a star-studded music festival in New Orleans designed to raise money for kids affected by Hurricane Katrina. It’s a noble cause, to be sure, and it attracted a who’s who of performers from the rap game, including Drake, Master P, and even a Hot Boys reunion.
So far so good, right?
Well as it turns out, Tidal, the music streaming service backed by Jay-Z, was live streaming the event for fans who couldn’t be there in person. Only thing is, by the time Drake took the stage to perform, the live stream went dead with an ominous message indicating that Apple, aka “Big Brother”, was preventing Tidal from showcasing Drake’s performance to fans across the globe. Drake, of course, has a lucrative endorsement deal with Tidal competitor Apple Music, even appearing on stage during the service’s introduction at WWDC this past June.
The message that greeted Tidal viewers watching the stream read as follows: “Apple is interfering with artistry and will not allow this artist to stream. Sorry for Big Brother’s inconvenience.”
Tidal subsequently put out the same message on its Twitter account on Friday evening.
Following that, the New York Post ran a story claiming that Apple sent a letter to Tidal indicating that it would sue for $20 million if it aired Drake’s performance.
Seemingly scandalous, the report turned out to be blatantly false. Writing for Buzzfeed, John Paczkowski reports that there was never any threat of a lawsuit and that Drake’s absence from the Tidal livestream was his decision and his decision only.
“The decision to not have Drake participate in the Tidal steam has nothing to do with Apple or Drake’s deal,” Drake’s manager Future The Prince told BuzzFeed News. “Point blank, 100 percent. I made a business decision. Apple doesn’t have the power to stop us from being part of a live stream. The only people that have the power to do that are Cash Money and Universal, and they’re our partners.”
So why is Tidal very publicly saying otherwise? Not only did the company take to Twitter to lambaste Apple for interfering with its stream, it blacked out what would have been Drake’s portion of the stream with a slide lambasting Apple as a Big Brother “interfering with artistry.”
So what gives? What was behind Drake’s refusal to be part of the stream? Well, if you take what Drake’s manager says at face value, it has to do with Drake’s image. In other words, because Drake’s team had little insight into how he might appear on the stream, they decided to nix it.
“Aesthetics and quality are important to us and we didn’t have any control over that or time to investigate it. We were just there to participate in the benefit,” Drake’s manager said.
While this explanation seems a bit fishy, Tidal shouldn’t have taken an otherwise charity-oriented event and turned it into an opportunity to throw a few digs at a competitor.