Today's the day that Adele fans have been waiting for. Adele's 25 hits stores, and while the album is available for purchase on CD through retailers or download through digital music merchants, it's apparently not being made available on the leading streaming services.
The New York Times is reporting that the leading streaming platforms were informed yesterday -- less than 24 hours before the actual release -- that the album would not be made available on their growing digital catalogs.
It's naturally an unfavorable development for Spotify, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and any of the other premium streaming services still left standing, but it's not as if Adele needs the digital exposure. The record's lead single, "Hello," sold 1.1 million copies in its first week on the market. It's never going make that kind of dough on the streaming smorgasbords.
The counter to that argument is that the track still broke into the seven digits in sales despite being available on Spotify, Apple Music, and other services. Yes, the full CD may not be available, but the lead single has been on streaming platforms for a couple of weeks now. The song was still available on Spotify as of last night.
Only the top tier of recording artists have the power to make this kind of decision. We saw Taylor Swift initially hold back on Apple Music because it wasn't paying artist royalties during trial subscription periods. That crisis was averted by Apple changing its mind -- deciding to pay royalties for the tunes consumed during Apple Music's lengthy three-month trial period -- but that's obviously not the case here.
Whether Adele's camp feels that abstaining from participation on streaming sites will result in more actual purchases or that chasing the digital payouts aren't worth it, this move deserves watching. Folks pay $10 a month under the assumption that Apple Music and Spotify can satisfy their music-listening needs. If more major artists bow out -- or even hold back from making their tracks available through at least the first few months of retail availability -- it could set the streaming revolution back.
No one expects streaming video platforms to host all of the worthy available content, but folks also pay far more for cable and satellite television than they do for satellite radio or any other premium audio offering. The eyes always seem to command stiffer ransoms than the ears.
There's a lot at stake here. Spotify now has more than 20 million premium subscribers worldwide, and Apple is up to 6.5 million paying users even though it's been charging folks for less than two months (the service launched at the end of June, but everybody gets three free months). Adele's move may make financial sense for her, but if it derails the revolution and evolution of on-demand streaming sites it could set back the platforms and the more obscure artists relying on those services to get noticed and paid.
Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.