Akon releasing albums thru' app


LOS ANGELES: Akon, hip-hop star who’s collaborated with everyone from Eminem to Andy Samberg, is about to release his first album in seven years — but you won’t find them in stores or on streaming services like Spotify. Instead, he plans to release four albums through a new app, making him the latest artiste to experiment with bypassing big record labels and traditional music distribution altogether.

The new app, called Stadium, will let fans stream Akon songs for free, although they’ll have to put up with ads. But interacting with the app by clicking the ads or sharing with friends on Facebook will earn users credits they can use to “buy” digital goods such as ringtones, wallpapers and Akon-styled emoji. And, of course, to unlock more songs and unreleased videos.

“It’s going to definitely regenerate the music business,” Akon said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, calling his app “the answer” to the music

industry’s problems. “It’s going to take someone like me to take the chance on it.”

It’s not a bad deal for Akon junkies; it lets them stream otherwise unavailable new music legally from their smartphones. For artistes like Akon, this kind of independent digital route offers other major advantages — among them, sidestepping Spotify, Pandora and their ilk. Many musicians resent those services for offering what artistes consider a tiny cut of streaming revenue.

That’s a big issue in the music industry, where sales of downloaded music are falling while streaming is surging. Services like Pandora and Spotify argue that they give out the majority of their revenue to artistes and labels and the amount will only grow as more people stream.

Akon’s first four albums for the Stadium app will each hew to a different genre: world, house, urban and reggae. The last album, in the pop genre, will be released sometime before March next year, likely in standard formats on multiple digital and physical channels through Warner Music Group’s Atlantic Records, Akon said.