Monday, February 05, 2024

David Lee Roth Accidentally Exposes Streaming's Greatest Flaw / A Different Kind of Truth

I saw a video about the current conflict between David Lee Roth and Wolfgang Van Halen. I had been reading about it on a few music sites, but after watching this video, I started thinking about the issue more seriously. 

Essentially, the dispute is about the final Van Halen studio album, A Different Kind of Truth. The 2012 record marked the return of David Lee Roth as lead singer, and the debut of Wolfgang as bassist. For my money, the album is incredible. I love it. A Different Kind of Truth received mixed reviews from fans and critics. 

At some point in 2022, the album quietly disappeared. It was pulled from streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, and stores could no longer order additional copies. In an interview, Wolf hinted that the reason was that someone in the band -- cough cough -- wouldn't cooperate on getting it re-issued. 

The "conflict" came to light after a series of videos that Diamond Dave posted on his YouTube Channel. Roth states that the album was both a commercial failure and a drag to create. Apparently, he felt the need to publicly state this to the world. Supposedly, Roth (and maybe Alex Van Halen) don't see the point in paying lawyers to re-negotiate a new deal for an album that sucks. Usually, Roth's videos are funny and entertaining. These were not. 

First off, the album doesn't suck. And as I was preparing to defend the album and urge Diamond Dave to reverse course, I realized that this particular dispute makes a fantastic (though maybe inadvertent) argument in favor of physical media and against streaming. 

I own the Van Halen album, A Different Kind of Truth. I can play it right now. I didn't even notice that it had been removed from the streaming services. If I didn't have a physical copy, I couldn't hear this fantastic record. For a serious music fan, this creates a huge dilemma. How can I ensure that my personal music library contains all of my favorite albums? The only way is to have a physical copy. 

The digital era has created a new definition of ownership, as well. When you "buy" that digital copy of the Barbie movie, do you get to keep it forever? Check the fine print. You don't. Music, movie, and TV fans need to re-think the idea of ownership in this age. It's a frightening thought.

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