Adele And The Benefits Of Streaming
Adele's new album, 25, sold bucketloads in its first week on sale - breaking sales records on both sides of the Atlantic.
Was this because she kept the album off streaming services, in spite of it or did it make no difference at all?
Early reports were that the majority of 25's sales were physical copies of the album - CDs. That tells you a great deal about the sort of people who buy Adele's albums. The chances are that these people would have bought the album whatever was happening on the streaming services.
The remainder of the buyers will be made up of those who would have bought anyway but just haven't embraced the streaming model yet (those people who still buy stuff on iTunes), people who bought because they couldn't wait to hear the album and would have normally streamed it; and various PR and label schemes to boost sales numbers.
The smallest of those numbers is almost certainly the middle one. People who have paid out for a streaming subscription seem to me to be the people least likely to go and buy an album.
So it's likely that withholding the album from streaming services resulted in few additional album sales.
What it certainly did do was deny the artist and other rights holders the income stream that the combined might of 100+ million streaming service users would have provided.
If we estimate that 25% (generously) would have listened to the album at least once that's around 275m plays. At the average rate of $0.007 per stream that services end up paying, that's around $2m that was left on the table. I can't imagine that there would have been fewer streams. And of course the streaming model is a gift that keeps giving.
Who benefits most from Adele's decision to keep 25 off streaming services? Other artists, that's who. Because the streaming model pays a proportional slice of a fixed pie to anyone who had songs streamed over a month the absence of 25 from streaming services means that every other artist is better off as a result.
I doubt that was the intended result though...