The Music Streaming Gods Giveth and Taketh Away…

Music streaming has been in the headlines this week in a big, big way. I’m sure you’re all aware that Apple threw their proverbial hat into the music streaming business this week with the launch of their new Apple Music service. Everything that I’ve heard about this service sounds a bit underwhelming. I’ve been with Spotify for so long now that Apple really needed something speculator to get my business. And despite what many pre-teens might think, Taylor Swift isn’t that spectacular thing. I get that Swift is the biggest thing in music right now (or whatever) and that she is one of the few acts still selling records, but her exclusivity on Apple’s Music service isn’t what I needed to sway me into changing.

I’m an Apple fan, but I don’t like how restrictive they are when it comes to the music  you buy from them. On top of that, I think the iTunes store is way overpriced, so I’m very reluctant to hop into bed with an Apple Music streaming service. I hope that Spotify can weather the storm and remain competitive. I’m glad that the music streaming field is widening, however I worry about splintering. The thought of many artists only being on one exclusive service is worrisome–how long will it be before fans will need several paid subscriptions just to have access to the bands they want?

I also worry about songs and/or bands vanishing overnight without notice. This has happened a few times with a couple of smaller bands that I like on Spotify, but this week there were two major cataclysms in the Spotify music library.  The Music Streaming Gods giveth and then taketh away! On Tuesday AC/DC showed up on Spotify! I love AC/DC and was luck enough to see them on their last tour a few years ago (when they were supporting BLACK ICE). Sadly, I’ve never really delved too far into their catalog–mostly because it was so hard to find electronically. I’ve been binge-listening to the older, Bon Scott-era albums that I’m not as familiar with as I should be (it’s all really great).

These minstrels will soothe my jangled nerves...

These minstrels will soothe my jangled nerves…

Of course, to maintain balance in the streaming universe, Prince decided to pull all of his music from every streaming service imaginable. This hit me much harder than you might expect. Last year, after he performed on Saturday Night Live, I fell head-over-heels in love with his latest album ART OFFICIAL AGE. Believe it or not, this was probably my most-played record from last year. It’s a big hit in my household, with even the musically fickle Mrs. Defending Axl Rose enjoying the hell out of the Purple One’s most recent album.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 6.47.14 AM

I’d been toying with the idea of writing a review of ART OFFICIAL AGE for several months, but something always seemed to get in the way. I’ve purchased exactly one CD this year, The Darkness’ latest album THE LAST OF OUR KIND, but I‘m seriously considering heading down to my local record shop and picking up ART OFFICIAL AGE just because it bums me out that I no longer have access to it. Is that part of Prince’s plan? Tease us all with his music and then take it away so we all rush out to buy it? Maybe. Is he perhaps jealous of Taylor Swift, who’s decision to leave Spotify was (weirdly) a huge news-making event? I certainly hope he isn’t waiting for Apple to cut him a similar exclusive-deal. Prince has gone to war against the Internet in the past, last year he wiped all of his music from YouTube (a pretty impressive feat if you think about it). I hope these shenanigans are making Prince a shit-ton of money, because I think it may end up costing him most (all?) of his cultural relevance. By disappearing from the Internet, Prince could end up vanishing from history. Think about it, if kids today can’t watch his videos on YouTube or stream his music…does Prince exist for them? I don’t think he does.

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9 thoughts on “The Music Streaming Gods Giveth and Taketh Away…

  1. Michael says:

    I never did the paid tier for Spotify, but I’m trying out the three free months of Apple Music. From everything I’ve read, it’s pretty comparable to the other services. It’s weird, just…having…everything. Well, a lot of everything, but not *everything*. Like you said, artists go through these phases of pulling and rereleasing their stuff, which makes me hesitant to really go all-in with streaming.

    It reminds me of how Netflix will lose content every so often. (Usually when I’m either in the middle of a TV series or just about to watch something.)

    I worry about the whole artist-exclusive thing. Not that I listen to a ton of different artists, but the thought of having to jump back and forth between services to hear X, but have to subscribe to this other one in order to hear Y sounds terrible.

    Good post!

    • It is strange having *everything* at your finger tips. Spotify killed my CD-buying habit, which made Mrs. Defending Axl Rose very happy. I do feel bad about using Spotify, because I know it’s ripping artists off. The problem is there is no middle ground: it’s either we have a dirt cheap and no one gets paid OR so expensive normal people can’t afford to use the service.

      Also, I find I know get really indignant whenever something I want ISN’T on Spotify. Like “fuck you then! I don’t wanna hear your shitty song!!!” Kinda funny. The waking up one day with AC/DC and no Prince is the second downside to streaming services. I don’t feel like Spotify is as bad as Netflix, but there’s so much on the service it could gain/lose as much every week/month/quarter and I just don’t notice.

      I started to sign-up for the Apple Music trial, but the service isn’t available for use on my Sonos hi-fi system (yet). I’ll probably give it a go once they add that app.

      • Michael says:

        There was a rumor going around in the months leading up to the unveiling of Apple Music that they were trying to go for a $7.99 a month price, which would have been nice. $10 a month isn’t insignificant, but I guess I can buy the rationale that for the cost of a single CD, you get 30 million songs.

        One aspect of Apple Music I haven’t had the chance to check out much is the Beats 1 “radio” station. I guess they’re making a big bet on bringing back DJs to expose people to new music and letting artists host shows and things. So we’ll see what that amounts to.

        I’ve heard Sonos support is coming soon.

  2. Sarca says:

    My husband excitedly revealed to me the other day about AC/DC on Spotify. I am happy for him, but I don’t sub or use a streaming service myself.

  3. Eageralto says:

    FYI, ART OFFICIAL AGE is still available to stream on Google Play’s subscription service and we just got the AC/DC catalog this week, also. Plus all the Jellyfish and Darkness you can stand. 🙂

    I appreciate the heads-up about the Prince CD. I’m a big fan but have spent more time taking my kids through his back catalog than listening to his new material. I’ll fix that today.

  4. […] Kids today probably don’t know very much about Prince, and I blame that on him. In recent years, Prince’s militancy regarding the online presence of music essentially resulted in wiping him from history for most young music fans. Hell, I grew up in the early 1980s and prior to 2014 I really only thought of him when watching re-runs of Chappelle Show. Scrubbing his music from the web resulted in him being half-remembered as a joke and as the guy who single-handedly ruined Tim Burton’s 1989 BATMAN film. I guess this strategy made him some money, because ART OFFICIAL AGE was the last album I purchased in an actual record store last year after Prince removed all of his music from Spotify. […]

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