Dr. Dre, Tink, and the latest wrinkle in the streaming-music wars | Bleader

Dr. Dre, Tink, and the latest wrinkle in the streaming-music wars

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On Saturday Dr. Dre announced the imminent release of his third album, Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre, which came with the news that he's ditched the long-brewing full-length Detox. Given that Dre's been hyping Detox since the release of his last album, 1999's 2001, the unreleased project's failure has taken up much of the oxygen surrounding Compton: A Soundtrack, even though Dre is putting that LP into the world soon. Very soon, in fact: Compton, which was inspired by the forthcoming N.W.A biopic, Straight Outta Compton, will be available through iTunes and Apple Music on Friday, a full week before the movie that provides the album's namesake hits theaters.

Anyone with an account for Apple's streaming service will be able to hear Compton: A Soundtrack before it's available to download. That's because Apple Music debuts the exclusive advance of the album in a small timefram before it's otherwise more widely available through iTunes. You can start listening to Compton: A Soundtrack tomorrow beginning at 6 PM PST, which should theoretically be enough time to get a few good listens in. Apple Music even served as the vehicle for most of the information concerning Compton: A Soundtrack's existence and release schedule: Dre broke the news during his Apple Beats 1 radio show, The Pharmacy. If Dre's new album is still a surprise, its steady rollout through Apple shouldn't be. After all, Apple purchased Dre's Beats Electronics last year for a few billion dollars, a deal that brought the iconic rapper and mogul into the Apple-empire fold.

As the streaming wars ratchet up, the Compton-Apple synergy is good for business. One of the benefits of streaming is that it theoretically simplifies the listening experience by giving users access to a trove of songs and albums with a single service; the idea of using more than one service feels like a bit much. (I say this as someone who uses Spotify Premium, and I plan to keep my Apple Music account once the trial run ends—but I also didn't keep Tidal around for long.) Having access to quality music is key, and while I can't speak to the quality of Compton: A Soundtrack, it's got the marquee name that can bring in new users. Though while these kinds of exclusive streams may be great for business, they're not particularly great for listeners. Beyond simply spreading potential users thin by offering them another service that does the same thing—the flip side, that one service can rule them all, can create some unavoidable issues for professional musicians who need an income—the draws that make each service unique can be a gimmicky detriment.

For example, last week Chicago rapper-singer and Timbaland protege Tink debuted the third part of her Winter's Diary mixtape series through an app called MyMixtapez. According to Complex the newish mixtape service counts about 5.8 million users and more than 10 million downloads as of May, and it's attracted rising and established MCs such as Lil Wayne, Meek Mill, and Rich Homie Quan. The key to MyMixtapez's success is the very thing I find irritating about it: it has a "lock" feature that forces users to post a promo about the mixtape they want to listen to on their preferred social media site, otherwise the track can't be accessed. The same goes for downloading a mixtape, though the songs and full-lengths live on the MyMixtapez app.

I begrudgingly complied in order to hear Tink's Winter's Diary 3 when it dropped late at night last week, though the interface kept me from listening to the mixtape more than once. After I downloaded Winter's Diary 3 I had to sit through an advertisement, and I'd decided to download the mixtape to avoid the ads that had cut through the app's stream—Tink's luxurious, enticing songs couldn't keep me on the app for long.

MyMixtapez also offers a premium version for $2.99 a month, which is ad-free and purports to have higher-quality music. But Winter's Diary 3 was available on most other free mixtape sites the following day, which meant I could download the entire thing and not have to worry about anything disturbing my listening experience other than my own fussiness. While the music industry focuses more and more on streaming music, I'm far more interested in what will give me more control over my increasingly hard-to-pin-down tastes, and I'm not sure there will ever be a single streaming service that can fully serve me.


Leor Galil
writes about hip-hop every Wednesday.



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