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Adele’s 25 won’t stream, for now

By | Published on Friday 20 November 2015


Hey everybody, it’s ’25’ day! It’s here! At last! Let it begin, people, let it fucking begin. The joy! The wonder! The sheer magnitude of unprecedented and unrivalled musical wonderment that will now unfold upon us; the mere mortals who, for reasons only known to the Lord himself, may now consume such awe-inspiring moments of artistic genius.

It’s called ’25’! It has eleven tracks on it! It’s out just in time for Christmas! Who’s not on the edge of their seats right now rocking backwards and forwards with a kind of frenzied excitement never before witnessed in this particular plane of existence? Well, me actually. Sorry. Not really that bothered. Never quite got all the way through ’21’, if I’m being honest.

But hey, it’s the big release day! We’ve put up the big release day sign here at CMU HQ and everything. Though – because there is always a ‘though’ – if you’re sitting there, munching on a muffin and sipping on your soya skinny latte, planning on firing up your streaming platform of choice in order to dive into this new slice of Adele-like magic, well, tough luck suckers, you will not find ’25’ available to play.

Because, yes, Adele is windowing ’25’. Which means you can buy it on CD, or download the whole thing from iTunes, but you WILL NOT STREAM. OK? There had been much speculation in recent weeks as to whether the big release of the year would go straight to the streaming services or not, but it was only last night – as ’25’ was about to go on sale – that it was confirmed the streamers were going to have to wait.

The decision – which Adele herself was reportedly involved in making – isn’t entirely surprising. Though it is interesting to note that Apple Music isn’t getting the new album straight away either, so this is not just about Spotify’s continued resistance to the idea of allowing big name artists to window their new material so only premium users can access it at the get go. Apple Music, of course, does not offer a freemium level beyond its three month free trial.

Artists should be allowed to decide where their music appears, of course, and bigger acts will always have that right to choose written into any record contracts. Though – from a wider record business perspective – you could argue that Adele isn’t being much of a team player with this move, because those who pay £10 every month to a streaming platform are the industry’s best customers, who have in no small part helped the sector’s revenues stop declining. So the record industry is basically saying ‘fuck you’ to its most important clientele.

Then again, Adele, like Taylor Swift, isn’t in the record business. She is in the Adele business, like Taylor Swift is in the Taylor Swift business. She, her management and her label understand her fanbase – which goes well beyond the streamers – and presumably feel that rushing to even the premium streaming services could negatively impact on more lucrative record sales, especially in the pre-Christmas market. And as Adele is going to singled-handedly rescue the entire music industry this month, perhaps we should just let her get on with it.

With this strategy, the singer looks set to break *Nsync’s first week sales record in the US. With such glory in reach, why wouldn’t you leave Spotify and Apple Music subscribers hanging for a little while. Which I suppose poses the next question here: how long is a little while? Spotify says it hopes the singer, who they “love and respect”, will provide their users with her new record “very soon”. We’ll see, I guess. 25 weeks maybe.