The power and weakness of the exclusive music release

What’s An Exclusive Anyway?

In news reporting, it’s pretty common that a magazine would be granted an exclusive. They are allowed to break the story first. After that, the story gets picked up by everyone and there’s no way to keep it under wraps.

Nowadays, the same situation is happening within music, in particular exclusive album releases.

Feeling fooled by Tidal?

Tidal sued for misleading music fans with exclusive Kanye West release

Exclusive Content To Draw You In

A music fan has sued Tidal and Kanye West for the misleading “exclusive” release of “The Life of Pablo”.

In the lawsuit, the streaming service and Kanye West are accused of making it sound like fans HAD to subscribe to Tidal to have access to the album.

However, weeks later, Kanye West released the album to other streaming platforms in order to make more money than he could on Tidal alone.

The lawsuit has fueled a discussion and question about the current state of the music business. Now that streaming has become of proven importance to labels and artists, streaming services are fighting for subscribers.

The only way they can really stand out from the rest, is by the content they offer. And currently, offering exclusive content is of special interest to them.

Constant Music Catalog Changes

This caused many artists to choose one platform to debut new music on, before releasing it to every other platform.

We’ve also seen artists move their catalog from one to the other platform or remove it in total – Think Taylor Swift, who pulled her catalog from Spotify during a dispute about the rate of pay per plays. And don’t forget Prince, who moved his whole catalog to Tidal for a while.

To streaming services, it means they constantly have to negotiate with labels in order to maintain their music catalog, but it also means no music streaming service will ever offer everything, at all time. And isn’t that just what the average music fan wants and is ready to pay for?

Music Fans Choose One Streaming Service, Not All

Most music fans are willing to pay for one subscription anyway, if they are willing to pay at all. This is exactly what streaming services are aware of too. So, they fight for those paying consumers, drawing them in with exclusive content.

In the music business, it’s a problem that has been noted by many. Offering exclusive content and an ever changing catalog is not a sustainable situation. The music fan, so far, is not willing to pay for more than one streaming service at a time and they appear careful moving between platforms.

Back To Buying CDs

For me, all this uncertainty, has actually refueled my trips to thrift stores, where I’m buying out the CD departments. CDs there are selling at anything from $0.50 – $2.00 per CD, so I usually leave with a huge stack. I, suddenly, like that old fashion feeling of “owning” the music in a physical format, just for the idea that no one can take it away from me unannounced.

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