Bringing Aaliyah Into the Streaming Era

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Music streaming services have become inadvertent and imperfect proxies for the infinite jukebox. But as younger listeners increasingly come to rely on them, missing artist catalogs leave historical holes that are difficult to fill.

For many years, the most important albums in Aaliyah’s catalog were unavailable on streaming, but that has just recently changed. Blackground Records — the imprint to which Aaliyah, who died in 2001, was signed — has been releasing its full archive online. It is a long-needed remedy, and promises a path to understanding the work of an artist who, in her time, was already aiming far into the future.

On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about the tug of war over Aaliyah’s musical legacy, how family tension shaped the business of the Aaliyah estate and the role her music — even though it was largely unavailable digitally — played in the evolution of contemporary R&B.

Guests:

Naima Cochrane, a music journalist and consultant

Gail Mitchell, executive director of R&B/hip-hop at Billboard

Dan Rys, senior writer at Billboard

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