Beyonce's 'Lemonade' comes to iTunes – what's behind the change?

Beyonce's album 'Lemonade' was first available exclusively on the music service Tidal and has now become more widely available. 'Lemonade' was released unexpectedly, like Beyonce's previous work, a self-titled 2013 album.

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Beyonce appears backstage at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards.

Beyonce fans who don't have an account with music service Tidal can now listen to "Lemonade," her latest album, which dropped April 23. 

The singer's new work arrived as a surprise and was accompanied by an HBO program that also aired on April 23. Releasing an album without advance publicity has become a popular move in the music business and one Beyonce has embraced before, with her self-titled album debuting in 2013 as a surprise as well. 

"Lemonade" was at first available only on Tidal, a music service that is co-owned by Beyonce, her husband Jay Z, and other artists, but it has now come to other services like iTunes and Amazon for purchase.

It will, however, only be streaming at Tidal "in perpetuity," according to a Tidal spokesperson.

Since its release, "Lemonade" has received mostly positive reviews from critics, with Time writer Maura Johnston, for one, writing, "Its songs feel fresh yet instantly familiar, over-the-top but intimate, with Beyoncé’s clarion voice serving as the fulcrum for her explorations of sound and the self."

With "Lemonade" now available through other services such as iTunes, the album was available for purchase only on Tidal for about 24 hours. Kanye West's album "The Life of Pablo" debuted for streaming on other services besides Tidal such as Spotify and Apple Music several weeks after its initial release, while Rihanna's work "Anti" debuted on Tidal, then was available for purchase elsewhere like iTunes 24 hours later. "Anti" is also available on other streaming services like Apple Music and Pandora.

"The extremely brief window for keeping 'Lemonade'... restricted to Tidal shows how intense the pressure is for a star of Beyoncé’s stature to reach as many fans as she can," Ben Sisario of the New York Times wrote of the decision to have "Lemonade" on Tidal only for a shorter time.

Dan Rys of Billboard also notes that an artist needs to attract a certain amount of listeners to attain prestigious rankings.

"For Beyonce to land her sixth straight No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, the album's availability in digital outlets like the iTunes Store within the week seems inevitable," Mr. Rys wrote.

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