Exclusive Music Is Bad For Fans, Bad For Artists, And Bad For Music Streaming

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Early this week, Kanye West had a short outburst on Twitter concerning what he called the “beef” between Tidal and Apple. This “beef” Kanye spoke of is the two streaming companies’ competitiveness over securing artist exclusives.

West released “Life of Pablo” in February exclusively on Tidal, which lead to a massive number of people (who weren’t members of Tidal’s streaming service) to illegally download Kanye’s latest album.

Although exclusives at first seem like great business for the streaming companies releasing these music giant’s albums, but it is bad for fans, bad for artist and bad for music streaming. This is an attempt by these streaming companies to win subscribers, in a similar way that Netflix, Amazon and Hulu compete by offering exclusives and different content.

But there is one key difference in this. That most of the streaming services have the same 99% of content available. Would it really be worth paying $9.99 for each service to get the same 99% of music you already have access to, just to have the latest exclusive album.

What makes this bad for the artist, is that the listener instead of paying another $9.99 a month, they go off and download the albums for free, illegally, or wait for the album to be released when the artist finally caves on their exclusive rights. Not only does this mean an artist loses sales, but also the goodwill of the most important thing, their fans.

Two companies that seem to be against the idea of exclusives are Spotify and Pandora.

“We’re not really in the business of paying for exclusives, because we think they’re bad for artists and they’re bad for fans,” Spotify’s head of communications, Jonathan Prince, said to THE VERGE earlier this year. “Artists want as many fans as possible to hear their music, and fans want to be able to hear whatever they’re excited about or interested in — exclusives get in the way of that for both sides. Of course, we understand that short promotional exclusives are common and we don’t have an absolute policy against them, but we definitely think the best practice for everybody is wide release.”

Chris Phillips, Pandora CPO told Business Insider, “I think on the artist incentive side, it’s pretty tough to keep your music on just one service, because you’re limiting your reach, especially if you’re a new artist.”

We agree with Pandora and Spotify, the main promise and idea of music streaming was to have all the music you want, whenever you wanted it. This can’t be going down well with loyal music streaming subscription holders, who pay their monthly fee in good faith knowing that they will be able to get all of the music they want from their streaming service provider.

When you analyze the number of subscribers to Tidal, you see that fans don’t respond well to exclusives. Subscribers are much more prone to excellent playlist services, with personalized playlists and ones curated by experts.

Hopefully these battles between streaming companies for artist exclusives are a thing of the past, as Kanye West says we want an end to this “beef”.

If exclusive deals continue, then expect music streaming and choosing your streaming provider, to get a lot more complicated and a lot more expensive.

What do you think of music exclusives? Good or bad? Let us know in the comments below.

And if you want to find all the music you like, then create a free music playlist personalised to your taste.

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