NEWS ROUNDUP: A Shake Up in Streaming & More


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Tidal press conference, 2015. Courtesy of Time.

A Shake Up in Streaming & More

By Jasmine Williams

A Reckoning?

Last week #MuteRKelly gained speed as Time’s Up’s women of color added their support and yesterday the movement got a boost from a Spotify. While the streaming giant did not cut all ties with Kelly, Spotify did announce that they will remove the alleged sexual abuser from all playlists and other suggested conduct so he will no longer be actively promoted on the platform although his discography will still remain and be searchable. The move comes as the result of Spotify’s new rule pertaining to artists accused of misconduct or of having songs with objectionable lyrics. Spotify tapped consultants from the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Anti-Defamation League, GLAAD, and other advocacy groups to create their “hate content and hateful conduct” policy which addresses “hate speech” in music and states that “when an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful (for example, violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.” In response to Spotify’s action, R. Kelly’s team accused the company of engaging in an “attempted public lynching.” His PR team’s use of the historically-loaded phrase in defense of the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer has sparked a separate controversy.

Spotify’s new policy is making waves in the industry and has many wondering what other musicians will be affected. Perhaps Chris Brown and Young Lo? Let the censorship debate begin!

In other pay-for-play streaming news, Tidal has been accused of faking millions of plays in an effort to make it look like Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Kanye West’s Life of Pablo were streamed more than they actually were. Norwegian paper, Dagens Nærengsliv obtained a hard drive with Tidal data reports that showed many users streaming the albums a suspiciously large number of times in one day.

Based on the obtained information, each of Tidal’s claimed three million subscribers would have had to play West’s Life of Pablo eighty-three times. Knowles and West both have business stakes in Tidal. Nærengsliv contacted one Beyoncé fan who was in Tidal’s records as having streamed Lemonade fifteen times in one day. She verified their suspicions of fabricated plays, saying “I love Beyoncé — but 11 hours? No.”

In traditional radio, it is illegal to pay DJs and promotors to play certain songs but streaming platforms still exist in a legal grey area – labels and artists can purchase slots on playlists. Perhaps the accusations against Tidal will lead to a change in the way all streaming services conduct business. Watch out Discover Weekly – they’re coming for you!

In a separate report, Tidal has also been accused of inflating their number of subscribers.

That New New

Arctic Monkeys head up the big releases of the week with their new studio album. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is the British band’s first full-length in five years. Arctic Monkeys refrained from dropping any singles ahead of the album’s release so the sound is completely new to fans.

Christina Aguilera released the second single off of her upcoming album Liberation. “Twice” sees the singer return to form with soaring vocals and personal lyrics. Christina heads on tour this fall; she’ll play two dates at Radio City in October.

French duo Justice are also back with a new release. They just announced the date for their upcoming live album, Woman Worldwide, out August 24 via Ed Banger.

Sigur Rós dropped a mixtape of “endless” ambient music this week. Liminal is an hour-long collaboration between Jónsi, Alex Somers, and Paul Corley.

End Notes

  • NYC fans of Superchunk  and The Breeders are about to get reacquainted with the seasoned musicians. Both bands play free shows in Prospect Park. Start the season off with Superchunk on June 20th, close it out with The Breeders on August 11th.
  • Random couple alert – Grimes and Elon Musk showed up at the Met Ball together on Monday night. Grimes wore a Tesla choker to the exclusive event. The next day Musk tweeted that his favorite Grimes songs are “Flesh without Blood” and “Kill V Maim.”
  • Legendary hip-hop label Loud Records is coming back. Founder Steve Rifkind is starting it up again, this time with Sony and RED. The trio is debuting a brand new sound for Loud’s rebirth! Just kidding – one of Loud’ first projects will be a remake of an iconic release. They’re bringing back Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) but this time contemporary hip-hop artists will play the characters of the classic LP.