Adele’s new album ’25’ is released today, and it won’t be available on streaming services. And unlike Taylor Swift, this isn’t a strategy focused on Spotify with its ‘no premium windowing’ stance.
Adele’s album won’t be on any streaming service for now, with both Spotify and Apple confirming the holdout overnight, while the New York Times reported that Adele was “personally involved with the decision”.
“We love and respect Adele, as do her 24 million fans on Spotify. We hope that she will give those fans the opportunity to enjoy ’25’ on Spotify alongside ’19’ and ’21’ very soon,” said Spotify’s statement.
“We are thrilled to offer Adele’s new album, ’25’ for purchase on iTunes. Her soulful new single, ‘Hello’ is available to stream on Apple Music along with her entire catalog and her revealing interview with Zane Lowe on Beats 1,” said Apple’s.
A thought: this matters a lot more to digital services, music industry people and journalists than it does to the majority of Adele’s fanbase, who’ll be buying ’25’ today or in the coming weeks.
She’s one of the industry’s outliers, like Swift, who can sell a truckload of albums in digital AND physical form, and can thus decide to focus on sales over streams without worrying too much about any increase in piracy. Billboard thinks ’25’ will sell 2.5m copies in the US alone this week, while Amazon UK says the album is its most pre-ordered ever.
’25’ being held back from streaming isn’t a surprise: what will be far more interesting will be how soon the album makes its way on to Spotify, Apple Music and rivals. ’21’ was released in January 2011 and then made available to stream in June 2012 – 17 months later.
If ’25’ is streaming by, say, mid-2016, that would be a significantly smaller window, which would tell us more about how Adele’s team see the interplay between sales and streams.
In the meantime, she’s one of the few artists that can use streaming singles – ‘Hello’ has 156.6m Spotify streams and 423.7m YouTube plays – to promote large-scale album sales.
The strategy is working for her, just as the strategy of being everywhere from day one is working for Justin Bieber and One Direction, whose albums came out last week.
At that level, artists can still call the shots and prosper. But as we said, pay more attention to when the ’25’ window ends, rather than to the fact that it exists at launch.