12 albums you still can't find on streaming services
From Feist to Frank Ocean, certain artists' online discographies are still incomplete
In 2017, it was reported that over 100 million people pay for music streaming subscriptions. Not including those who go straight to YouTube to search for tunes for free (1.5 billion people do this), that's a lot of people relying on online services for their musical needs nowadays. And it's easy to see why it's become such a big part of our everyday lives: its ease and convenience can't be beat.
But over the years, music streaming services have had some trouble obtaining certain artists' music. In 2014, Taylor Swift pulled her albums from Spotify, citing in an op-ed that the service undervalued musicians' art. In 2015, Prince pulled his music from all streaming services except for Tidal. And Neil Young has had a complicated relationship with streaming, saying the quality of streaming was "bad for my music."
As of today, those three artists' albums have made their way back onto streaming platforms everywhere, but it's an evolving process. Beyoncé, whose 2016 album Lemonade has been a Tidal exclusive since its release, was finally added to Spotify and Apple Music just last week.
Those looking for a one-stop shop of every album ever recorded won't be able to find that on any one streaming platform. In many cases, the services aren't to blame, but it can be tough to rely fully on any one platform to deliver everything you're looking for.
Below, we've outlined a number of albums that you still can't find on streaming services. So, if you need to listen to any of the following 12 albums, you'll have to find your local record shop or dig through the depths of eBay.
Monarch (Lay Your Jewelled Head Down), Feist
Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist's debut album, Monarch (Lay Your Jewelled Head Down), is a rarity even outside streaming services. The album, which was released in the summer of 1999 and features the single "It's Cool to Love Your Family," was mostly sold at her live shows at the time in the form of CDs. It's been out of print since then, but in 2012 Feist released 2000 limited edition copies on vinyl. Unfortunately though, it remains the only piece missing from her discography on streaming services everywhere.
Similar to Feist, Canadian indie-rock band Stars also have a hard-to-find debut album. Nightsongs is technically Stars' first release, but the band only consisted of members Torquil Campbell and Chris Seligman at the time. (Singer Amy Millan and Metric front woman Emily Haines make appearances on a few tracks.) Nightsongs was available on vinyl thanks to a Japanese label called Syft, but the label has since gone out of business making copies, both physical and digital, extremely rare.
One in a Million and Aaliyah, Aaliyah
While R&B star Aaliyah's first album, Age Ain't Nothing But a Number, is widely available on streaming services, her two follow-up albums One in a Million and Aaliyah are nowhere to be found online. Aaliyah, who is still cited by many as an inspiration and muse today, died in a plane crash in 2001. It's been reported that her uncle owns the masters to her last two albums but is withholding them from Spotify, Apple Music and the like. The reason for that is unclear but if you want to hear those albums, you'll have to track down physical copies to hear hits like "Are You That Somebody" and "Rock the Boat." (Tidal has I Care 4 U, a greatest hits compilation released in 2002, which includes singles from those two missing albums.)
Nostalgia, Ultra, Frank Ocean
A common reason that sample-heavy albums aren't on streaming services is clearing the rights for said samples. That's the case for Frank Ocean's 2011 debut mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra. The critically acclaimed release, which features singles "Novacane" and "Swim Good," is largely unavailable online because of the Eagles' Don Henley who threatened legal action over the use of his band's song "Hotel California" on Ocean's "American Wedding." In response to this, Ocean wrote a post on Tumblr clarifying that Nostalgia, Ultra was put out for free and "if anything, I'm paying homage." In a 2015 interview with the Guardian, Henley said, "I thought he was a talentless little prick. And I still do."
In the Pines, AroarA
Broken Social Scene completists will hit another roadblock when looking up AroarA, the side project of members (and couple) Andrew Whiteman and Ariel Engle. In 2013, they put out their debut album, In the Pines, inspired by poet Alice Notley's 2007 book of the same name. The album was longlisted for the 2014 Polaris Music Prize but Whiteman and Engle hit pause on this project soon after, with Engle launching her own solo project La Force last year. The album, though, has been taken off the internet save for some YouTube uploads and live performances.
3 Feet High and Rising and De La Soul is Dead, De La Soul
If you searched De La Soul on a streaming service, you'd be led to believe that the formative rap group only had two albums. But in a 2016 interview with BBC, member Posdnuos explained that these omissions were another case of sample clearance being a road-blocker for putting music online. "Our contracts on those early albums said specifically 'vinyl and cassette,'" he said. "The wording wasn't vague enough to lend itself to [new] music technology." He goes on to point his finger at Warner Bros., the owner of the masters for albums like 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul is Dead and Buhloone Mindstate, for not putting the effort into clearing these samples once again for digital distribution.
Goin' Off and The Biz Never Sleeps, Biz Markie
Just like De La Soul, most of rapper Biz Markie's albums were released by Warner Bros., via Cold Chillin' Records. It's uncertain if Markie's absence from streaming services is due to uncleared samples, including the ironically titled 1993 record All Samples Cleared!, but the only title that appears to be available on all services is 2003's Weekend Warrior which was released on Tommy Boy Entertainment instead of Warner Bros.
Symphony in Effect, Maestro Fresh Wes
One of the best-selling Canadian hip-hop albums of all time, Maestro Fresh Wes's debut, Symphony in Effect, is missing from streaming services. While more recent releases like this year's Champagne Campaign and 2017's Coach Fresh are available on Apple Music and Tidal (only one album, 2010's The Black Tie Affair, is on Spotify), the record that launched the Toronto rapper's career is not online. Perhaps this is due to sample clearances — the album's breakout single "Let Your Backbone Slide" alone contains six samples — but it's an integral piece of Canadian hip-hop history (named one of CBC Music's 25 best Canadian debut albums) that deserves to be preserved somewhere on streaming platforms.
Season of Glass, Yoko Ono
While many of Yoko Ono's albums are available on streaming services, the legendary experimental artist does have some holes in her discography. Most notable of the omissions are her 1981 album, Season of Glass, 1982's It's Alright (I See Rainbows) and 1996's Rising.
Most albums by Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks is a country icon, but his music is largely missing from most streaming services. Some singles and collaborations can be found on Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal, but for a while, the only ways to obtain Brooks' music were buying physical copies of his albums or downloading entire albums on his own digital music site, GhostTunes. (GhostTunes only allowed for downloading, not streaming.) But, in 2016, Brooks worked out a deal with Amazon Music Unlimited where his discography would finally be available on a streaming service for the first time. So, if you're in search of his 1989 debut album or any of his other 14 studio albums, Amazon is going to be your main outlet.