At this point, most of the world has heard Adele’s single “Hello“, and most people are getting exposed to her new song, “When we were young“. The single sold 1.1 million copies in the United States in its first week – the biggest number ever recorded for a download. So that’s great news right?
Here’s what’s not so great: the album won’t be available for streaming, neither on Apple Music nor Spotify. There’s even talks about Adele doing a “Taylor Swift” and pulling out completely from Spotify. It’s understandable that artists feel that they are under compensated when their work is distributed through companies that essentially use the “freemium” model, but what really gets to me is the fact that it’s getting increasingly hard to enjoy the work of your favorite artists, despite paying for memberships – such as Spotify Premium.
Some people may argue that the music industry is reaching and end, similarly to Teri Agins “The End of Fashion”, which proves that unless you’re Blockbuster, you’re not reaching an end, your industry is simply shifting, and it’s up to, in this case, the artists, management and distributers to keep up. The music industry has had a major shift, where it’s easier for a independent artist to distribute their work through platforms like Spotify and YouTube, and gain a huge following without the influence of record labels. The money isn’t going into buying the music anymore, it’s about the experience.
At this point, it’s mostly up to the artists/bands and the people behind them to decide where they want their revenue to come from. If you put a barrier between people and the music you’re producing, you’re likely to become less popular, although in Adele’s case, that may not necessarily happen. But do you know what will happen? Increased piracy. People aren’t generally willing to pay – which is why platforms like Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music have been so successful. As mentioned, the money needs to come from the experience, and with that I mean through being proactive in connecting with fans through concerts and other events. Look at what Thirty Seconds to Mars is doing, and how they have exposed the music industry through Artifact. Jared Leto represents the superior genome of our kind, but the band is taking innovative approaches to show their presence and connect with the people who are willing to spend crazy amounts of money to meet the guys. How creative is Camp Mars, Vyrt and some of Leto’s other entrepreneurial projects?
I’m a huge fan of Adele and believe that she is a leader in the music industry through portraying real talent, as opposed to losing her clothes and using sex as her main asset. She has evolved through her music and given us something raw and real, rather than pushing her talent aside to let the autotune shine. She has gotten a huge following through her class (and sass), along with her honesty, which I genuinely respect. However, it seems like she, along with Taylor Swift, are desperately trying to hold on to the “old” music industry, going against the new platforms that were created for, and have been hugely successful in reducing the amount of privacy. Music should be about sharing art – not profits. I will now sit here in my disappointment, as I have been looking forward to the release of this album ever since I heard the rumours, while contemplating whether I should buy it or not.