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Which Artists Are Still Holding Out on Streaming?

on February 24, 2016, 12:00am
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Adele

adele-25-record-sales-month-

Apple: Except for 25
Spotify:
Except for 25
Tidal:
Except for 25

I’m convinced Adele can do no wrong, even when others wrong her, (cough, cough Grammys). So when Adele decided to withhold her record-breaking album, what did every single human do? We paid for it. With money. Adele noted her similar stance on streaming to Swift’s in a recent interview with Time and said she thinks they would both “feel the ability to say yes or no to things even if we weren’t successful.” Fortunately for them both, success seems to come steadily. Though Adele’s two previous records are available to stream (as well as singles “Hello” and “When We Were Young”), the singer now says she feels as though streaming is “disposable” and that “I know that streaming music is the future, but it’s not the only way to consume music.” A statement millions of fans proved to be true. –Lyndsey Havens

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Dr. Dre

Dr Dre Apple
Apple: Yes
Spotify:
Only 2001
Tidal:
Only 2001 and Compton
YouTube:
Yes

Dr. Dre’s messy divorce from Death Row Records stipulated that Dre received the proceeds from digital sales, while Death Row got the sales of physical copies. Streaming, of course, doesn’t involve a sale of any kind, and so The Chronic has sat out the streaming revolution, suspended in legal limbo. Last June, Apple Music finally acquired the G-Funk classic, a year after buying Beats by Dre. Apple has deeper pockets than Spotify and Tidal, and their deals with Dr. Dre – see Compton, which started out as an Apple Music exclusive – are an example of the way they’ve leveraged their resources to beat the competition. –Wren Graves

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De La Soul

De-La-Soul-2015
Apple: Only The Grind Date
Spotify:
Only The Grind Date
Tidal:
Only Smell the D.A.I.S.Y

De La Soul, like many others on this list, are swimming through a pool of legal issues with regards to their music and streaming. Members Kelvin “Posdnous” Mercer and David Jolicoeu spoke with Bloomberg Business back in April and explained that their contracts “didn’t include the world of digital” and that they primarily pertained to vinyl, cassettes, and CDs. Unlike Fripp from King Crimson, there are no hard feelings involved here: “…to rework those contracts to make that language exist for the benefit of the individuals involved, it’s just a process,” Jolicoeur said in the interview with Bloomberg. “It’s a long process to make that happen, that’s why our stuff is pretty much [not] available via the digital world.” In addition to a lengthy legal process, the group have struggled with clearing samples used in their songs, adding to their digital difficulties. In 2014, the group offered their entire discography for free, for 25 hours only, and back in March, the group funded an album entirely through Kickstarter to avoid any constraints in regards to online availability; who knows what will be next. –Lyndsey Havens

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Def Leppard

Rick & Phil

Apple: Sort of
Spotify:
Sort of
Tidal:
Sort of

Frontman Joe Elliott hasn’t kept his opinions to himself, though he wishes he could do so for his songs. Since Universal owns the rights to Def Leppard originals, the group has come up with a semi-solution — to re-record its hits while simultaneously giving the middle finger to Universal. Elliott was rather blunt in a 2013 interview with Classic Rock magazine and said, “We’re trying to wrestle back our career and ownership of these songs. [Universal] owns the originals, we’re at loggerheads with them over the digital rights. And as long as they’re playing silly buggers we’ll just keep recording them again … It’s our life and our music and we’re not going to let them exploit us to the extent that they’re trying to.” So, Def Leppard is “sort of” available on streaming services because their live and re-recorded songs are all offered, while their original works still remained tangled up in turmoil. –Lyndsey Havens

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Neil Young

Neil Young
Apple: Only the Geffen albums (Trans to Life)
Spotify:
Only the Geffen albums (Trans to Life)
Tidal:
Yes

For Neil Young, his issues with streaming services are all about the audio. “I don’t need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution,” he said when he announced he was pulling out of streaming services last July. That decision didn’t cover the five albums he made for Geffen Records, presumably because it wasn’t Young’s choice to make. This Tao of Audio is probably what led Young to Tidal, since one of Tidal’s selling points is its superior audio fidelity. –Wren Graves

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Traveling Wilburys

Traveling Wilburys
Apple: No
Spotify:
No
Tidal:
No

Though there is a painfully small amount of information regarding the Traveling Wilburys’ relationship with streaming (for obvious reasons), logic points to the fact that George Harrison’s estate owns the rights to the supergroup’s’ only two albums. Although, with the October and December announcements that Harrison’s solo discography as well as the majority of The Beatles’ discography, respectively, would now be available on all streaming platforms, it’s not entirely unreasonable to think the Traveling Wilburys works would soon follow … and maybe they still will. In an article from ABC, Billboard senior editor Alex Gale said, “I don’t think anyone knows for sure, but obviously the main reason is they didn’t really have to,” in regards to what took so long for The Beatles to join the streamsation. Maybe the remaining members of the Traveling Wilburys feel the same? –Lyndsey Havens

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Drag City Artists

Joanna Newsom
Apple: No
Spotify:
No
Tidal:
No
YouTube:
Yes

Drag City, indie label to off-kilter acts like Joanna Newsom, Silver Jews, Smog, Ty Segall, and Will Oldham, holds the odd philosophy that what is best for an artist and what makes an artist money are not necessarily the same thing. Partially for this reason, and partially because they see Spotify and Tidal as record label cabals conspiring against musicians, they have avoided streaming almost entirely. One notable exception is YouTube, that notoriously stingy video streaming service, on which Drag City has a robust presence. Clearly, as far as this particular indie label is concerned, certain kinds of exposure are more valuable than others. –Wren Graves

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