1924: An early BBC broadcasting station at Savoy Hill in London. (Photo by Central Press/Getty … [+]
A new album by hip-hop duo Black Star (yasiin bey and Talib Kweli) has been confirmed for a 3 May release; but it will not, certainly not at launch, be available to buy or even stream on leading platforms like Spotify or Apple Music. Instead it will be available only on podcasting platform Luminary.
This is a big deal for a number of reasons. The primary one is that No Fear Of Time is the first new Black Star album in almost a quarter of a century, following their 1998 debut, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star. Fans have been waiting a long time for it. Secondly, Luminary is a subscription-based podcasting platform that costs $34.99 a year. This puts a cap on the total addressable audience.
The only music available so far is a 15-second teaser on YouTube encouraging people to take out a Luminary subscription to hear the music when it arrives next month.
Luminary is heavily pushing the album, with an episode of The Midnight Miracle podcast series (with Dave Chappelle, yasiin bey and Talib Kweli) discussing the origins of the album. The Bugs Bunny Mathematicx episode “serves as audio liner notes to introduce the album”, according to the podcast platform. The Mineral Mountain episode will feature a freestyle from yasiin, Kweli and Black Thought.
“With No Fear of Time, Black Star has crafted an important record and a different kind of record release, partnering with Luminary – a cultural label that is becoming home for the world’s most thoughtful artists,” says Rishi Malhotra, Luminary CEO. “yasiin and Kweli have a profound point of view and observation of the world we live in. We are proud to be a part of this definitive moment in music.”
Given how difficult it is to license non-library music for use in podcasts, this is a profoundly symbolic move, showing that albums do not have to be in podcasts, they can be the podcasts.
There has been significant experimentation over the years in how albums are released outside of the conventional routes of record shops, download stores and streaming services.
In 2019, Moby released his album Long Ambients 2 exclusively on the Calm meditation app. Soon after, Sigur Rós created a Liminal Sleep playlist with Calm and then electronic act Above & Beyond released their Flow State album through the app.
Like Luminary, Calm runs on a subscription model …….