Adele’s “25” isn’t on Spotify or Apple Music – here’s why it doesn’t matter
Adele’s new album release rivals Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) release a new iPhone to cause public hysteria.
People spend months examining the rumors, guessing the release dates, and then buying it the second it hits the store. It doesn’t matter in either case if the new one is quite similar to the previous one, millions of people just have to have it.
For Apple, this model is impressive but not so surprising because people are still buying smartphones. What Adele achieved by selling 2.43 million copies of her latest album 25, according to Billboard, is more impressive because it set a sales record at a time when buying music has become an anachronism.
Adele easily passed the first week of her Taylor Swift megaahit 1989 and she broke a record set by ‘N Sync in 2000 (when the iPhone was still seven years old). It’s an almost unthinkable start at a time when the idea of owning music has faded in favor of paying for streaming services, including Apple’s Spotify and Apple Music.
And, maybe that’s why 25 sold so many copies. Adele and her management have made the strategic decision not to use major streaming services, which allows users to choose which songs they hear. This means it’s not on Spotify or Apple Music, but it’s part of the rotation on Pandora (NYSE: P) which works more like a personalized radio station where users have no control over the specific songs they hear.
Sounds like a big deal for Apple and Spotify, but it’s not more than Swift doing the same thing when 1989 came out of.
Why is this not a problem?
Every time (and there have only been a few) a major artist releases their new album from major music services at will, by subscription, the media begins to speculate that a trend is beginning. It’s not just because most artists lack even a fraction of the fanbase commissioned by Adele, Swift, or even Beyonce, to name just three artists who shortlisted the albums.
Small artists, who represent pretty much the entire industry, just don’t have that kind of influence. And, the evolution of the music industry has made the album’s format less relevant. A band like Maroon 5 can generate a ton of radio plays, ticket sales and even sold singles, but they don’t move albums.
The group’s latest pop dreck collection was released on September 2, 2014, and didn’t hit the million-sold mark until the week ending July 30, 2015. Billboard reported. It’s almost a year to hit a number the top bands hit in a matter of weeks, and it’s for a band whose lead vocalist appears on a top TV show every week.
Most artists won’t take their new music off streaming services to sell more albums just because that won’t be the end result.
It won’t hurt the streaming
For years the Beatles kept their music out of iTunes and that was a news item, but it did nothing to stop the shift from physical to digital album sales. Adele’s move won’t be any different and it won’t slow down the end of musical ownership.
It’s also worth noting that members of the streaming service aren’t likely to leave just because a few albums they want are missing. Even if they have to buy a few records a year, listening at will is still a very good deal and Adele’s shares would have to become the norm for that to change, which is highly unlikely.
This is backed by Tyler Goldman, managing director, North America, of music streaming company Deezer, who told Reuters that Adele’s actions will not have a material impact on streaming services, unlike Swift. .
“An individual artist will not change the inevitability of streaming,” he said.
It won’t be a trend
Streaming may not replace album sales as a source of income for artists, but not everyone but the former will have a choice. In most cases, artists will need the help and promotion of Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora. All three of these services have the ability to put music in front of fans, which ultimately controls whether an artist makes a living or not.
Adele chose to let Pandora stream songs from 25 not because of the money it gets paid by the radio type service, but because it boosts album sales. For the vast majority of the rest of the industry, which won’t sell a lot of albums anyway, streaming services generate exposure that leads to ticket sales, sponsorship, and a better chance at building a career.
Streaming might be a bad deal for artists, but that’s where the industry is now and most artists also won’t be able to say that they can’t refuse to do free concerts for the stations. radio at Christmas.
Adele did what was best for Adele, but it’s not a strategy that will work for more than a handful of artists.
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