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The Orion

Music spreads across multiple platforms

Photo credit: Dongyoung Won
Photo credit: Dongyoung Won

We all know Kanye West. Whether you know him simply as “that asshole” or you know him for his music, you have an idea of who he is. I know him as both, and honestly I’m a really big fan. That’s why I was so pissed about his latest album. It’s not the content of his album that I’m angry about. In fact, I haven’t been able to hear any of the content.

Kanye’s latest album, “The Life of Pablo,” was made available to be streamed only off the music app Tidal. On Feb. 15 Kanye tweeted, “My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal.”

Tidal is a music platform that launched in 2015 which happens to be owned by Jay-Z.

By releasing his album only on Tidal, Kanye was able to more than double Tidal’s total users. It went from around a million, to upward of 2.5 million.

Business-wise, this is a really good deal for Tidal. Kanye can sell anything just by putting his name behind it. That’s the reason people are spending $120 for a plain white T-shirt. But when we step back and look at what is happening to the music industry, it’s a bit scary for the consumer.

Platforms like Spotify are incredible for the user, giving access to a huge database of songs for a reasonable price, between $5-10 a month.

This is much better compared to iTunes, which offers songs for $1.29 each. Spending that much per song isn’t worth the digital download. That’s why people were driven to sites like LimeWire to download their music illegally for free.

The ideal platform for an artist would be iTunes, but since users don’t want to pay for it, Spotify gets the job done. It pays the artist every time the song is played. Since Spotify can be downloaded and played anywhere under premium, the songs are going to be played a lot more.

When smaller platforms like Tidal arise, they attempt to offer something new to draw in the user. Tidal claims to have better sound quality and offer a more personal relationship between the musician and the user. However, in order to gain popularity, these platforms need to team up with big stars, like Kanye, to draw in the listeners.

This gives them a monopoly over a person’s music. This monopoly takes away from users of other platforms. Spotify users can enjoy all their music, but still don’t have access to Taylor Swift. Nor can they play Adele’s new album.

This gives the listener music insecurity. So now, listeners are forced to conform to multiple music platforms to get all their music.

Frankly, I’m not down with spreading my music across multiple platforms. Competition is good, but when the different companies are each pulling a different aspect of the music away, they’re taking away from the user more than they are other companies.

Music is not about the platform. I love Spotify, but if a better platform arose I would drop it in a second. The consumer wants content. Consumers don’t care how the music gets to their ears as long as it’s easy and cheap.

And it was, but these smaller platforms trying to change the way we experience it are making it more and more difficult.

So now I’m faced with either listening to Kanye’s old music or giving in to buying Tidal. I’m forced to decide between making my wallet happy and giving my ears what they deserve.

This is not a decision that music listeners should have to make. Music is here to comfort us, teach us, inspire us. We shouldn’t be forced to feel insecure about whether we’ll get the music we want.

On Feb. 14, Kanye tweeted in reference to his debt, ”I know y’all tired of music controlled by money and perception. I’m proud of every dime of debt I got.”

Kanye doesn’t realize that he is simultaneously contributing to the problem as well as suffering from it. Kanye, you douche.

Sam Rios can be reached at [email protected] or @theeemessiahon Twitter.

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    Dave // Mar 11, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    I’m perplexed You don’t mention “Apple Music”, with 15million or more streaming customers. Yes they still sell music but now they have a streaming offering to compete with Spotify. Believe there catalog is larger too but was this not researched? They have Adele and Taylor’s new albums…

    It’s also $9.99, tho spotify offers a deal for students but apple has the family plan ($15 for family of 6)