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As you’re aware of by now, Adele has supplanted Beyonce as the de facto subject of white girls’ fever dreams, and for several reasons. One is that where Beyonce is highly curated and always in control of the narrative, Adele is “real” — she’s not afraid to tell Taylor Swift’s ridiculous #squadgoals to fuck off, and obviously she makes her money writing and singing songs that “get” you. But how real is she, really?
Adele is on the cover of Time, aka those red magazines in the basket next to your grandpa’s toilet. Adele’s latest album has already sold metric fucktons of copies, not least of which because her music isn’t available on streaming services like Apple Music or Spotify. Adele, speaking as only someone wildly out of touch with reality can, attempts to justify her position.
“I believe music should be an event,” she said in one of a series of recent interviews with TIME, speaking for the first time about the decision. “For me, all albums that come out, I’m excited about leading up to release day. I don’t use streaming. I buy my music. I download it, and I buy a physical [copy] just to make up for the fact that someone else somewhere isn’t. It’s a bit disposable, streaming.”
Three things: One, I don’t believe this. At all. I’m genuinely calling bullshit that Adele first logs into iTunes or whatever the fuck, downloads an album, and then goes to Amazon or whatever the fuck and also purchases a CD. Two, how is music streamed on demand, from the cloud, somehow more disposable than a piece of physical media that’s marked up 10,000% beyond its production costs and is easily lost or damaged; media that can only be played on physical media players that exist only in cars and computers, if at all? Three, has it not occurred to Adele, a very wealthy person, that not everyone can afford to spend $11 to buy every album from every artist they like, and thus rely on streaming services to patch together a music library?
Regardless, Adele rejects streaming in part because she believes music should be an “event,” that the buildup is palpable, preferred and even necessary. Except, in the same series of interviews with Time, she said the following:
“I’m not throwing shade at anybody,” she says, “but when you have a six-month build up, don’t expect me to be there the day your album comes out, because I’m bored. It doesn’t matter how amazing it is. You put seven songs out. I’ve heard the album. I’ve heard everything you want to say about it. I’ve heard it all over radio. Don’t expect me to not lose interest before it’s even happened.”
Huh. I guess music should only be an “event” when it’s Adele’s music. I get her point here about overexposure (and if she’s not talking about Taylor Swift, who could she be talking about?), but the difference is that Taylor Swift can’t take a day off from social media without people sending out a search party, whereas Adele disappeared for four fucking years without anyone noticing. Her Prolonged absence, though certainly less annoying and intrusive than Taylor Swift’s omnipresence, is it’s own kind of sideshow buildup.
Back to streaming music, Adele isn’t necessarily ignorant of or resistant to it — she just doesn’t, like, get it.
“I know that streaming music is the future, but it’s not the only way to consume music,” she said. “I can’t pledge allegiance to something that I don’t know how I feel about yet.”
First, the idea that Adele doesn’t have an opinion about how people listen to her music (or rather, that she has an opinion at all) is absurd — it matters not to an artist how you listen to her music, only that you (or someone) has paid to do so. So then, is it the money she doesn’t understand? Spotify, for their part, is very transparent about how they pay artists. About 70% of their total revenue is returned to the rights holders, and how much an artist receives depends on things like their popularity on the site and how many paid users spotify has. At their current level of about 20 million premium subscribers, Spotify estimates that a “global hit album” (which Adele’s “25” would certainly qualify as) will generate a monthly payout of somewhere around $1 million dollars.
So either someone hasn’t adequately explained the streaming revenue model to Adele and she’s thus losing out on a considerable amount of money (depending on her royalty deal with her label), or she’s secretly a crotchety old luddite who doesn’t want these dang ‘ole kids listening to her music on their new-fangled spotidora and pandorify services (again, to her financial detriment).
Either way, you won’t hear any of Adele’s new music on a streaming service anytime soon, and fuck if anyone (including Adele) actually knows why. “Chasing Pavements” is her best song, anyway. No one disputes this.