If you opened up Tidal last night, you would have found it streaming Lil Wayne’s Lil Weezyana Fest in New Orleans. That is, up until Drake came on. As Drake took the stage for a brief set, Tidal cut its stream and put up a message. "Apple is interfering with artistry and will not allow this artist to stream," it said. "Sorry for Big Brother’s inconvenience."
Drake's manager says Tidal is completely wrong
The message highlighted what appeared to be a very strict move by Apple to protect its partnership with Drake, especially given that some proceeds from the concert are headed to a charity for communities still dealing with the effects of Katrina. The New York Post's Page Six even said that Apple had sent Tidal legal letters stating it could be sued for up to $20 million if Drake were to appear.
But all of that may be misinformation. According to BuzzFeed News, Apple had no say in Drake's stream being cut. The report says that Apple did not threaten to sue Tidal over the appearance — it supposedly didn't even know that the event was going on. Instead, Drake's manager says that it was "100 percent" his decision not to stream the performance. "Apple doesn’t have the power to stop us from being part of a live stream," his manager says. Drake's camp apparently didn't want his set streamed because they were unable to ensure that it "represented us in the right way."
1/2 Apple is interfering with artistry and will not allow this artist to stream. Sorry for Big Brother’s inconvenience.— TIDAL (@TIDALHiFi) August 29, 2015
Drake's manager adds later: "[Tidal] saw the opportunity to take a situation and spin it in their favor as a publicity stunt."
Tidal maintains that what it said is right. In a statement, Tidal says that it has the paper trail to prove its side, although it's seemingly declining to publish it: "We have all the email receipts and written correspondence that took place with said, blocked performance," Tidal writes in a statement provided to The Verge. "That being said we choose to keep it classy. Great show to all the performers. Great performance Wayne. God Bless New Orleans. 10 years stronger."
If you believe Drake's camp, then it seems like Tidal purposely misled people into believing that Apple was trying to hurt fans and artists. If you believe Tidal, then you might wonder if Drake is just covering for Apple, which he has a major deal with. One way or the other, one of these parties has to be wrong, either deliberately or through great confusion. Apple declined to comment.
Update Saturday August 29th, 3:32PM ET: This story has been updated to include comment from Tidal.