The new Jay Z and Kanye album “Watch The Throne” was a mega event that launched as an itunes exclusive. How did the exclusive iTunes window on a release this big translate to a world where spotify has real traction? If you were a subscriber of streaming services like Spotify or Rdio, at a minimum, it was an inconvenience, at worst you missed it. Most of that major media, blog and radio promo was wasted on me. Hearing an anticipated release after months of build up, the moment it hits the world, together with other fans – that’s part of the magic!
But when Tuesday came, it was all not enough to pay $9.99. I thought about it seriously. After dealing with the anxiety of unsatisfied demand by complaining on twitter, I received a nice surprise when @rdio tweeted back that Watch the Throne would be available for streaming on Friday! These guys are on it! I’d wait.
But it wasn’t until Sunday that I even remembered to go back and listen. The massive hype died down, and when I finally did listen, it was somewhat of a let down. The air was taken out of the event and I didn’t want it nearly as much as I did on Tuesday. By Friday, I was distracted by new and more urgent listening demands.
It took this decision point, a record I really wanted that was outside of my ecosystem, to take note of how subscription now has me locked in!
First, if your not coming to me, I’m waiting, not buying unless I positively have to, and definitely not if i haven’t heard it first. This is new for me. The cloud ecosystem is no longer an adjunct to my itunes library, it has it grip on me fully. Remember every second I’m listening, your competing against every album ever for my attention!
The second thing I noticed was “Watch the Throne” wasn’t urgently in in my social feeds. Social itunes links aren’t connected as deep to my facebook or twitter, and buy links don’t drive me to click. Thus per facebook SEO, I probably see less from people who use itunes links to share in my feed vs streaming links which generate my participation. So many friends I look to for guidance on what music gets my attention also rely on subscription playlists and streams. If they’re not getting it, I’m not getting it pushed.
I get the reasoning behind the release strategy. I certainly don’t feel that 9 bucks for an album is a ripoff. I also get from my experience that the monetization is just not the same yet. With a once in a life time event, why take a chance and leave recorded music revenue on the table? Id have to listen to Watch The Throne probably hundreds of times from start to finish to generate the same revenue. To date Ive listened to the whole thing twice, and then a few songs 5 or 6 times. Just a year ago, I’d have bought it first day. How many people have learned they can live without? Piracy drove the first wave of music fans creating huge digital music libraries and access to everything instantly. It was easy to downplay the emerging ADD nature of music for because it wasn’t based on a legal model.
Growth of services like Spotify are now pushing fans into a legal musical wonderland. But now it’s harder to pay attention to any one release. Supporting both huge top-line releases and subscription is hard. However ignoring one for the other is something we’re just starting to understand, and I don’t think that tactic can last for long.
— note – i am also hearing that the sound quality of Watch The Throne is BETTER on spotify than on itunes? Please leave a comment if youve heard both!