clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Pandora is streaming Adele's 25 and her label can't stop it

Adele's 25 is the biggest album in the world right now, and it's made it there all without a single stream on Spotify. In fact, it might have made it there because there hasn't been a single stream on Spotify: Adele and her label made the decision not to stream 25 anywhere online, encouraging people to actually buy the album or its songs outright. But despite the ban, some services have songs from 25 up streaming.

Basically, Pandora can play whatever it feels like

Pandora confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that every track from Adele'e new album is available through its radio service. That's not going to be a particularly great way of listening to 25 — because Pandora is a radio service, it means you can't choose what to listen to and will have to wait for a station to play the new songs — but it does mean that Adele's album is streaming in some form. You just have to be really, really patient to hear it all.

25 isn't on Pandora because Adele specifically wanted it there. It's on Pandora because Adele and her label don't have a say. Spotify, Apple Music, and other music streaming services that let you choose exactly which songs you want to hear all operate through direct deals with record labels. Those deals give artists and labels the ability to withhold specific songs and albums when they choose to, which is why you see major names like Adele and Taylor Swift withholding albums to boost physical sales or for use as a bargaining chip. Pandora, on the other hand, doesn't have a deal with labels. It relies on a law governing "non-interactive" streaming services — basically, anything akin to a traditional radio broadcast — which allows it to stream any song with a US copyright so long as it pays a federally established fee. Labels don't have a say in this type of licensing; so Adele's new album, like Taylor Swift's 1989 last year, still ends up streaming on Pandora.

"This is a unique situation to the US market," says Benny Tarantini, who handles PR for Adele. "As it turns out, Pandora is licensed through government statute in the US, and as a result record companies cannot withhold from webmaster radio services." That means other online radio services should be streaming songs from 25 as well. iHeartMedia, for instance, confirmed to The Verge that tracks from 25 are available on iHeartRadio.

Of course, Adele and her label are likely a lot less concerned about Pandora streams than Spotify streams. Pandora is just a radio station, so it's likely seen a bit more as a promotional tool than as something that will cannibalize album sales: You won't be able to play 25 straight through on Pandora. You won't even be able to open up Pandora and start playing "Hello." You just have to hope your Adele station picks the track you're looking for. That means Adele fans who find out about her new album through Pandora are still going to need to buy 25 if they really want to play it. Pandora and other streaming services may be at any advantage over Spotify here, but they're still not giving you a free stream of 25.