By Joey Nolfi
April 09, 2017 at 12:27 PM EDT
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Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Spotify users around the world are snapping out of their empire state of mind.

Over the weekend, rap legend Jay Z removed most of his music catalog from the streaming giant, leaving fans of the popular music service with three full albums of material — 2010’s The Hits Collection, Volume One, 2002’s R.Kelly hookup The Best of Both Worlds and its 2004 follow-up Unfinished Business — amid a smattering of collaborative singles.

The move comes nearly three years after Jay Z launched his subscription-based streaming service Tidal, which has struggled to garner a user base to rival its digital competitors, including the membership legions of Spotify (around 50 million) and Apple Music (20 million). Tidal retains an estimated 1-3 million streamers monthly, positioning it alongside rivals like Napster and Deezer.

In January, Tidal sold a 33 percent stake to telecom company Sprint for $200 million, which essentially granted it access to the corporation’s roughly 45 million customers.

Since its 2014 inception — with help from celebrity investors including Madonna, Usher, Nicki Minaj, and Beyoncé — Tidal has premiered exclusive, artist-focused content among a selection of 40 million total songs. Tidal also boasts its high-fidelity sound as a major selling point, relying on “FLAC,” a “more robust, realistic streaming format” that plays “music files that have not been compressed down.”

As of Sunday, Jay Z’s discography is still available to stream on Apple Music and for purchase on iTunes. A representative for the 47-year-old declined EW’s request for comment on the Spotify removal.

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