February 28, 2016 Vince Valholla

Why Exclusive Streaming Releases Hurt The Music Business

Kanye West’s latest album, The Life of Pablo was released on February 14, 2016 exclusively on Tidal. A download link was available on Kanye’s website but was later taken down. So technically, there was no way to own or stream Kanye’s album unless you had Tidal. For JayZ and everyone else who owns Tidal, this was actually a great move. According to Digital Music News, because of The Life of Pablo’s exclusivity, Tidal’s subscribers (may have) doubled.

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That’s great, but here’s the bad part; The album was torrented over half a million times. Now that was the report on February 16th, two days after the album released, so that number may be over a million today. What does this mean? Most people would rather steal the album than subscribe to Tidal. I really like Tidal and I wish we lived in a world where everyone in the world subscribed to at least one music service. Even if that was the case, if an album is released exclusively on one platform, everyone that isn’t subscribed to it loses (if that album is from an artist you’re a fan of). For the sake of the music lovers, something has to change to ensure that fans aren’t alienated by streaming services.

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Solution: Major Labels should either have album releases available on all streaming platforms or none at all. Having an album FOR SALE on one platform is another story because a person is not committed to said service. Hence why Beyonce’s self titled album and Drake’s ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’ was a major successes. Let’s face it, streaming exclusivity doesn’t work. Future Tidal exclusives should simply be for purchase only. iTunes exclusives work too. If you’re a music executive planning your next roll out… Say NO to Streaming exclusives, for the fans sake.

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Vince Valholla

Vince Valholla is Chairman/Chief Executive of Valholla Entertainment, Inc. Valholla is a full service Music Label & Management Company based in Miami, FL. Valholla's 2015 release of Kirby Maurier's "Doing The Most" was one of the highest selling independent R&B albums in the South Atlantic Region. His opinion is his own.