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Akon to debut albums on app – 1-D to return

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LOS ANGELES, Oct 31, (AP): Akon, an R&B star who’s collaborated with everyone from Eminem to Andy Samberg, is about to release his first albums 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 artist 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 artists 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 artists 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 artists and labels and the amount will only grow as more people stream.

Garner

Artists’ own apps, however, can garner them a greater slice of ad revenue, while also scooping up data on which songs fans like most and where they live. Musicians can use them to sell concert tickets, backstage passes and T-shirts and other merchandise.

By appifying himself and going independent, Akon aims to super-serve his 60 million-plus fans on social media. He said that roughly 200,000 people have already registered to receive the Stadium app when it’s released in the next couple of weeks.

Other artists have gone down a similar road. Radiohead released “In Rainbows” as a pay-what-you-want album download in 2007. Lady Gaga debuted songs from “Born This Way” on a special version of the video game “FarmVille” in 2011, and last year U2 released “Songs of Innocence” as a free album to iTunes users, sponsored by Apple. Some acts — like Macklemore, Nine Inch Nails and The White Stripes — have foregone traditional record-label deals and thrived.

But none of these efforts have yet yielded a broadly viable way of getting music into the hands of fans while paying artists what they think they deserve.

One Direction “fully intend” to reform, the British pop phenomenon’s Louis Tomlinson said ahead of Saturday’s final concert before their planned hiatus.

The four-piece boy band, who have sold more than 50 million records worldwide, are ending their On The Road Again Tour at the Sheffield Arena in northern England.

The group are set to separate for at least a year, leaving the band’s enormous global teenage following devastated.

“We fully intend to come back,” Tomlinson told ITV television.

“We absolutely love this. We had a little sit down before and we decided that we wanted a break.

“We’ve had a very intense couple of years so we’re just going to have a little bit of breathing time and spend that with our families.

“I don’t think anyone could keep this pace up forever so I think it’s the most healthy and constructive thing for all of us.”

The band consists of Tomlinson, 23, Niall Horan, 22, Liam Payne, 22, and Harry Styles, 21. Zayn Malik, 22, quit due to stress in March.

Horan admitted the last gig of the tour would be difficult.

“We’ve done almost 1,000 shows or more over the last few years so to think we won’t do one for over a year will be strange, so it will be a little bit emotional,” he said.

The group’s fifth studio album, “Made In The AM” will be released on November 13 and they will make a promotional appearance on US television four days later.

Put together for a British television singing contest in 2010, the group swiftly developed a giant, fiercely loyal following of young girls worldwide.

Malik has signed a new recording deal as a solo artist.

“I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight,” he said at the time.

The Sunday Times newspaper’s Rich List 2015 reckoned the band members were worth £25 million ($39 million, 35 million euros) each.