Radiohead may have initially held back the group’s critical darling of a ninth studio album, A Moon Shaped Pool, from all unpaid music streaming services, but the era of exclusivity will soon end for the art-rock royals. A Moon Shaped Pool will land on Spotify on June 17, to coincide with the physical release of the album, according to a placard on the band’s page on the service.
The era of the “windowed” release — where records are briefly exclusive to streaming services before being made available for consumers everywhere — appears to be upon us. Radiohead follows big-name artists like Drake, Chance The Rapper, and even unrelenting Tidal supporter Kanye West in the trend just this year, and more big-name artists will likely continue to join in.
Windowed releases allow artists to still reach the maximum number of ears, while helping boost paid consumers during the first weeks or months of an album release. Dedicated fans will pay to play, where more casual listeners will be happy to hear musicians’ latest material later.
The new business model likely comes to the chagrin of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, who has been an outspoken Spotify hater for some time now, having once called the service, “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse.” That said, Spotify does have the band’s back catalog and a number of remixes and B-Sides, including the popular version of Bond theme Spectre which the group released last year.
In a way, it is surprising that some of the earliest pay-for-what-you-want advocates wouldn’t join musicians like the still-exclusive-to-Tidal Beyoncé and the totally-unstreamable Adele in their fight for a better option for musicians. Then again, business is business, and as a band who doesn’t routinely tour to raise funds — or, for that matter, put out music very often — Radiohead needs to make as much cash off of each record as possible.
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