Music streaming innovator Spotify is receiving a bit of a backlash from the music industry. Pop megastarand her label have withheld her seventh studio album Unapologetic from any online streaming.
Although her single “Diamonds” is currently topping the chart of the most streamed tracks, the rest of the album is nowhere to be heard on Spotify.
The absence of Unapologetic follows another pop darling’s refusal to post her latest offering on the service. Taylor Swift’s latest album, Red, was similarly withheld from online streaming. Like “Diamonds,” Swift’s biggest recent single “We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together” can be streamed, and it is also in the top ten streaming tracks on Spotify.
Although it is far too early to call these Spotify denials a trend, a dangerous pattern could be forming. Spotify’s widespread and meteoric popularity was largely due to the depth of its music library, especially of the newest and hottest releases. If artists and record labels start withholding albums from Spotify, the service loses an important pillar of the business.
Spotify users are not happy with RiRi’s decision. Many, notably the money-paying premium users, seem to place the blame with Spotify.
"Yes, what's going on?” posted one user in a Spotify forum, “I don't see the point of paying for Spotify if I'm not getting the music I desire."
"I can find the album, but none of the tracks are playable except for 'Diamonds',” another user continued, “The album is released, so why shouldn't we be able to play it with Spotify Premium?"
So far, Rihanna has been unapologetic (sorry). She, nor her label, has discussed their Spotify decision.
Swift’s record label claimed releasing everything, particularly new releases, on Spotify was bad for business: "We're not putting the brand-new releases on Spotify. Why shouldn't we learn from the movie business? They have theatrical releases, cable releases. There are certain tiers. If we just throw out everything we have, we're done."
Once again, the music industry is scared of the internet. What’s weird about these latest charges is that the industry seemed cautiously cool with Spotify for awhile.
Sachin Doshi, Spotify’s head of development and analysis, quickly responded to these latest quibbles, using Mumford & Sons’ latest album, Babel, as an example of how album sales and Spotify listens correlate.
Babel was listened to on Spotify more than 8 million times in its first week of release but still sold over 600,000 albums in the United States and 159,000 in the United Kingdom.
"That goes to prove streaming services do not take away from unit sales and, in fact, can be additive for major artist releases,” Doshi said to Rolling Stone, “That's our point and we're sticking to it."