A lot of people, it seems, are upset because they can’t stream Adele’s 25; Spotify-subscriber Adele-stans are taking this one personally. Supposedly a small cottage-industry of think pieces on the subject has flourished in recent days, if my wholly unscientific sampling of the walls of various Facebook friends is to be believed. As a non-proponent of streaming and someone indifferent to Adele at best, I’m bemused: both because there are countless better things to be upset about right now, and because it seems ridiculous to attack a successful young singer, her management, and label for being the savvy, profit-oriented business-people they’re supposed to be. This may sound kind of crazy, but hot-shit major label albums are written, reproduced, and marketed to be sold; all those A&Rs, publicists, studio engineers, roadies, vinyl press operators, and other sundry cogs of the dying-yet-still-truckin’ music industry machinery aren’t volunteering for charity.
So do you want to hear 25? Visit malls, department stores, restaurants, or the homes of friends this holiday season; turn on a radio, and wait. Given that Adele in 2015 is basically Michael Jackson in 1985, you’re pretty much guaranteed to experience the whole thing between now and the moment you unwrap that 15th pair of argyle socks from Santa. The library’s probably got it already. Do you want to listen to 25? Then buy it, or ask someone who cares about you to buy it for you. 25 isn’t some obscure limited-edition Japanese noise LP or deleted Italian jazz opus from the mid-50s—the kind of crate-dug rarities that Spotify probably is streaming. 25 is more ubiquitous than organic produce. Piles of 25 are gonna be stacked in every kind of store—heck, your grocery store probably has this stocked—from now until whenever Adele’s next album arrives. Strange as it may seem, free music isn’t anyone’s natural right.