A rumor that iTunes are intentionally sabotaging releases associated with acts who've exclusively released material through TIDAL is picking up some serious traction, so much so that iTunes execs have had to respond to the allegations, which they deny.
Whispers began when Rihanna's iTunes release of "American Oxygen" - which was serviced to iTunes a week after it was exclusively available on TIDAL - was mired by 'technical difficulties' and as a result was unavailable for periods of time following its release. Although iTunes often have last minute problems as a result of high traffic, widespread accusations of foul play have been made.
Similarly, multiple sources have reported that the vice president of iTunes has made it explicitly clear to label execs that if their artists exclusively release material through TIDAL, they won't be promoted as featured artists and they'll have a far more difficult experience of selling music through the iTunes store.
As punitive and petty a move as this is, from a business perspective it makes sense. Although deliberately fudging the release of "American Oxygen" (which has failed to make any meaningful chart impact) feels underhand, there's no reason that Apple should promote artists who exclusively release songs and albums through TIDAL - they're theoretically taking away from Apple's profits and traffic. This doesn't feel like the smear campaign people are desperate for it to be, it just feels like shrewd business tactics.
Apple reps' categorically deny the accusations, so perhaps there's nothing in the rumors but if there were, it would make sense. What is undeniable, however, is that TIDAL is in real danger of having a hugely detrimental affect on its artists' careers, which is likely why Kanye West has recently taken steps to distance himself from best friend and mentor Jay Z's service.
Either way, it doesn't feel like "American Oxygen" has particularly resonated with Rihanna's audience which is likely more responsible for its poor performance than iTunes alleged behaviour.
Why do you think #R8 has got off to such a rocky start?