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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