The Pros and Cons of Exclusive Album Releases

Soon the CD will be obsolete (if they already aren’t). I predict they will be sold at Urban Outfitters for $45 twenty years from now, just like vinyl’s are sold there today. Why, because artists are signing deals with music streaming service like, Tidal and Apple Music, to have their album solely release on there platform. Well that isn't the only or biggest reasons CD's will go (or have gone) by the wayside, but it can be factored in. The real point of this article is artists releasing music exclusively on one platform.....

Is this a good or bad thing???

This article won’t really answer that question, because frankly I don’t know. I’m honestly just exploring this new wave in music as you are, and want opinions from advent music fans, like TYFNS readers. So please engage with the article as you read, and come up with your points.

Ok, so to me, the question here is simply, “If I subscribe to Tidal but my favorite artist signs a deal with Apple, how will I hear their music?” Kanye’s TLOP was a Tidal exclusive, and even though there are ways to get around that, and it did finally released on iTunes and Apple Music a month and a half later, there was a scrabble to try and hear it when it first released via Tidal if you weren’t a subscriber.

I myself am not a subscriber to any music service, Apple Music, Tidal, Spotify, etc. So when big releases come out on sole platforms my question, how will I hear them, legally of course. I have mixed views for this new method. Maybe this isn’t a bad deal for the fans on some levels, maybe it is. For the sake of this article we're going to assume Apple Music, Tidal, and Spotify (I assume Spotify will get in the mix of releasing exclusive content) are the three main players. I'm sure this trend will catch on with more music services if this is deemed successful, but for now we are just going to use the three stated.


Think of this way, if you are a user all the three named services as of now your paying roughly $30 a month for all music you want and more ($30 was based on assuming all three were priced at the Apple Music $9.99 price). Now we all know buying albums is something that no one does anymore, unless they really support the artist or project. And buying physical copies is so much of an after thought.

But lets go back to 2006, when buying music wasn’t as unheard of. If three of you favorite artists came out with albums there is no guarantee that $30 would be enough to get all three albums. But in 2016 you get those albums and more for the same or less money, so it works in your favor.

For the artist it makes sense too. People are always going to illegally download music, and part of the reason that happened was because album prices were going through the roof. However, now I'm sure they are getting paid off the deals they’re signing with the streaming service, plus a percentage based on how many times their project is streamed. Of course I can only assume, I know nothing for sure. Lastly, this maybe artists way of having fans buy music again. For ten dollars, or so, you get all access to their music (old and new), and other artist’s music as well. I mean who doesn’t have ten bucks? I don’t know if this will cut down on illegal download significantly, only time will tell that, but in theory it seems reasonable.


On the down side though, if a user signs for all of these music services and no project you want releases that month, you're out of $30. You're probably saying, “well you still get the old music at you fingertips.” This is true, but do you really want to continuously pay on music you’ve already heard? And what if you wanted to cancel? From my experiences with Apple Music’s free trial and Tidal, all the music you “download” while subscribed is on your device but once you end the membership you lose all access to that content.

So in other words, if no album comes out in, lets say three months, that you’re particularly hyped about then you're paying $90 to listen to music (if you use all three services). If you're only listening to a handful of artists then you could have saved yourself money by buying their music as an one time purchase that you own forever, no matter what. That $10-$14 every time might make more sense for you. I mean, you can always use the web and listen to anything else you want to for free.

However if you're a person who enjoys searching for new artist, listens to and downloads a lot of album, then this might not sound so bad to you.

Another issue I ponder about is what happens to those who can’t sign up to all services? Realistically no one is paying, especially young people, for more than on one music service. For the sake of argument lets move forward with the three services used in this article, and let’s assume they sign artists to exclusively release content through them. If I can t afford/don't want/or not able to get all three and have to pick only one, will I become blind to other artist? While people become unknowingly brand loyal to artist signed to the service they use? “Hey have you heard the new so and so? No I don’t listen to him/her/them, I don’t listen to Tidal artists, I don’t use them.” Will music (mainly albums as of now) consumption become divided based on the streaming service we use?


I know this all seems a little far-fetched; Kanye did release TLOP on Tidal, but it did finally reach other outlets. But he did state that TLOP would never release on any other platform, one time. Still there’s probably too much money and diversity at hand to section off your music to be available via one medium. These deals will probably be more likely an “initial release exclusive” thing. Albums will “exclusive,” only available through that service upon initial release for a certain period of time, enough for that service to profit. Then, it will more than likely hit other outlets much like TLOP did.

Besides, there will always be a way around all of this, fans will find a way to hear the music they want. And maybe none of this even happens; maybe it’s just a current wave that dies out. I think it will be interesting to follow Drake’s Views From The 6, since it’s a Apple Music exclusive, and Beyoncé's emonade, as that's a Tidal exclusive. I want to see how the releases are managed and received overtime. Do they eventually release in hard copy, and on other music services? More importantly though, to see if others follow the same process.

What are your thoughts as a music consumer? Is this recent trend good or bad? Are their any points you agree or disagree with, or anything I left of the article? Recently with the death of Prince, I heard Tidal own his whole musical catalog, what are your opinions on that? Will other artist sell their catalogs as they age, and what does that do their legacy after they pass? Please share your thoughts with TYFNS, your opinions are greatly appreciated.