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The Problem With Music Streaming Exclusives | It’s Florence Welch’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Dr. Dre recently released a new album, Compton. If you want to stream it, the only place to do so is on Apple iTunes’ new streaming service, Apple Music.

Prince announced that his new album would be available for streaming exclusively on Tidal.

Both Apple Music and Tidal charge monthly subscription fees. Unlike paying a monthly subscription fee to HBO and Showtime, thereby giving you access to exclusive content on each network, the majority of material on Tidal is also on Apple Music. If you pay for Apple’s service, is it worth paying an additional amount to Tidal just to hear Prince and see a few behind the scenes videoclips?

The situation reminds me of what happened in the late 1990s. Record companies stopped releasing commercial singles, so if a consumer wished to own, say, “Tubthumping,” that consumer had to purchase a Chumbawamba CD for $18.98. “Tubthumping” is a great song, but is it $18.98 great? Yes, you get other songs on the album, but be honest – it’s all about “Tubthumping.”

It turns out an alternative appeared – illegal downloading. Consumers rebelled against being forced to pay $18.98 to get that one song they wanted, so they found a copy of it on the Internet for free. And while browsing the store known as the World Wide Web, they found some other selections that they felt were well worth the price of nothing.

Many folks want to hear the new Dr. Dre album. Many folks will want to hear the new Prince album. Many of those folks don’t want to pay for both or either streaming service. Many will download the albums for free from places not owned by Apple of Tidal. The services likely paid Dre and Prince and their record labels a pretty penny for the exclusivity. That’s the only way I can see anyone winning in this scenario, though will those labels win in the long run?

I subscribe to neither Apple Music nor Tidal. I have access to Amazon’s streaming service via my Amazon Prime subscription, but I can’t recommend that streaming service, as their music library is paltry. I use Spotify’s free tier. Its library is a good size and it is convenient. Because it is the most popular streaming service and available to everyone at no fee, I use it for this blog’s playlists.

Spotify isn’t perfect, however. Far from it. Many songs are misidentified and there are far too many cheesy re-recordings of songs in place of the original hit versions. Many of the tracks I’d love to include on our Friday dance playlists – Amii Stewart’s “Knock on Wood,” Club Nouveau’s “Lean on Me,” David Naughton’s “Makin’ It,” Junior’s “Mama Used to Say,” – are not available, save for crappy-sounding covers by the original acts.

Therefore, our weekly dance party doesn’t include any of those (or anything by Prince, who removed his music from Spotify to make his catalogue exclusive to Tidal). However, it does include twenty tunes to get you jumping, kicking off this week with Florence + the Machine, whose Florence Welch turns 29 today.


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Ringo + Lily 002
“I love to have that conflict of something sounding so sweet but actually being really quite dark.”

That quote from Lily Allen summarizes one of my favorite attributes of her music – sunny melodies coupled with not-quite-sunny lyrics, a juxtaposition that makes for some wonderfully subversive pop tunes.

The song that put her on the map, “Smile,” exemplifies this. It’s a catchy song – upbeat, major chords. Lily wrote it about an ex-boyfriend who was cheating on her. Then the ex got dumped by his new girlfriend and he called Lily to console him, which brings us to the awesome chorus: “At first when I see you cry, it makes me smile. Yeah, it makes me smile / At worse I feel bad for a while, but then I just smile. I go ahead and smile.”

“Smile” appeared on Allen’s debut album Alright, Still, released in 2006. Her follow-up album, 2009’s It’s Not Me, It’s You, contains another brilliant example of this style, this time aimed at a well-known public figure.

The song was initially released by Allen on her MySpace page in 2008 as “Guess Who, Batman.” The song is not about anyone connected with Batman, but rather, someone whose initials match the first letter of each word in this title. If you’re still not sure, I’ll let Lily give you a clue: “It was originally written about this fucking arsehole who used to be the President of the United States of America. His name is George W. Bush.”

She made that comment after Bush left office and after the song was released with an additional verse and a new title, “Fuck You.”

Among the things for which she takes Bush to task is his perceived homophobia: “So you say it’s not okay to be gay / Well, I think you’re just evil.”

Shortly after the second album’s release an Australia guy with the YouTube moniker steviebeebishop created a video for the song that featured members of the L, G, B and T populations and their supporters around the world lip-synching the tune. It became a phenomenon that spread to other countries, with lip-synched versions emanating from countries such as France, Croatia, New Zealand, Hungary, Mexico and Brazil.

The song was no longer specifically about Bush, but directed towards anyone who expresses anti-gay sentiments. As steviebeebishop explained when he posted his video:

theres a disgusting amount of hate on the internet (especially on youtube!) directed at minority groups (especially the LGBT community) so i was inspired to organize this collab video. i never set out to change the world. i did not make this for the gay haters to see. i wanted to make something light hearted and funny for the victims of gay hate, to teach them to brush off the hate and stand strong and confident as who they are. you’re not alone! stevie loves you 🙂

Today is Lily Allen’s 29th birthday. As Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, we’ll kick off our playlist with a remix of “Fuck You.” By the way, Lily’s third album, Sheezus, is out today.

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