Most Jay Z albums now back on Apple Music, still withheld from Spotify

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Following their sudden removal from Apple Music and Spotify last Friday, most of Jay Z's albums are now back on Apple's service, but still missing from Spotify — for reasons unknown.

The only major releases absent from Apple Music as of Monday are the rapper's debut record, "Reasonable Doubt," and the three "Blueprint" albums. That's comparable to what's available on Google's streaming service, Play Music.

The Spotify collection remains small, the only albums being "The Best of Both Worlds" and "Unfinished Business," both collaborations with R&B star R. Kelly. Other tracks are generally singles, remixes, or part of the "Collision Course" mash-up with Linkin Park.

It's not uncommon for catalogs to change on streaming services, especially for artists popular enough to exert control or be used as bargaining chips. Apple, for instance, regularly pays to make some albums temporary exclusives — Chance the Rapper was allegedly paid $500,000 to keep "Coloring Book" an Apple exclusive for two weeks. Tidal, of which Jay Z is a co-owner, will also sometimes hosts exclusives.

Jay Z is one of the most famous rappers in the world, and potentially a serious loss for Spotify if his discography isn't restored quickly.

One possible explanation for Friday's takedown may involve Spotify's recent deal with Universal. Jay Z's Roc-A-Fella label is attached to Universal, and the new arrangement specifies that Spotify must keep some albums as exclusives to paid listeners — and meet basic subscriber targets — in order to qualify for lower royalty payments.

Jay Z's catalog could conceivably have been pulled from both Apple Music and Spotify as part of broader industry negotiations, and returned to Apple once Universal and/or Jay Z secured favorable terms.


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