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Discussion in 'Music' started by Marc Colella, May 5, 2003.
The demise of the album and album based rock has been greatly exaggerated.
One problem with the advent of CDs has been the death of the single. Back in the 70s when I was a kid you could buy a 45 of your favorite song for a buck or less. In the 60s it was the same. Singles sold like hotcakes, people who liked individual songs instead of whole albums (or young people with limited incomes) bought singles.
Yes' "Close To The Edge" and Pink Floyd's "Animals" still sold in huge numbers.
The problem with the CD Age has been tha demise of the single. There is no longer a source for the casual music listener to get their single songs. MP3 is the vehicle for the new "single" listener. Back in the day, 45RPM singles were released on crappy quality vinyl, often very compressed sounding due to the real estate and the nature of vinyl. (much to the chagrin of those of us who bought singles for our favorite artists' B-Sides). If you wanted to hear the longer full version of the song, or hear it in better quality, or want to hear more by this band, you bought the LP (thus doubling the royalties on that song).
This is just the long-needed replacement for the 45RPM single. The companies tried Cassette singles and CD singles, but neither has caught on. The market will bear this, and I predict that it will not cause any significant dent in the CD album market.
Hopefully the record companies will realize this.
I know some people, particularly musicians, poo-poo pop music and the concept of the 3 minute single. I don't. There's nothing inherently superior in long form music. A finely crafted 3 minute pop song is a wonderful piece of music, and I would argue significantly more difficult to pull off both in writing and performing than a 50 minute rock oratorio.
Here's a cool story on Madonna...
It's no wonder sales of Madonna's new album are dropping...it sucks (IMHO).
As for Apple's service, I think $9.99 is way too high for an album. Chances are the album will have fewer than ten songs, chances are even greater that all ten songs won't be desirable, and chances are 100% that the sound quality will be inferior to CD. And with no artwork, etc.
I think $5.99 for an MP3 album would be more reasonable.
I remember CD singles used to only be $3 tops, but then they started adding additional tracks (i.e. 4 different dance mixes of the same song) which bumped the price up. I think the CD single would have done better if they just sold you the one version of the song for a few bucks.
This is probably dating myself, but does anyone remember the stores that had the service where you could make a mixed-tape of a bunch of songs? I forget exactly how it worked (and I never did it because I never had the cash), but for like $10 or $15 bucks, you picked out 10 songs and they'd make a cassette for you.
My point is, the idea of selling single songs is nothing new. Hopefully (if Apples service gains momentum) it won't harm the industry. I think most bands can only benefit from it.
There are a lot of bands that I want to get into to, but I'm not about to buy an entire CD for the chance that I might like them. The idea of purchasing/downloading a few songs and then eventually buying the whole album or CD is great!
p.s. And the whole concept of "A Full Album" is pretty much lost on me (and most others) because I rip all my CD's to my MP3 player and the order becomes obsolete. Just like anything, bands are going to have to adapt to this ideology and break free from the "Album" concept.
I've purchased quite a few songs the other day from Apple for my iPod. I'm happy to drop $1 for songs I like vs. $8-$18 for a CD with one or two songs (even a used CD).
Yep, it ain't uncompressed PCM, nor is it SACD/DVD-A, but for traveling (and in the car), it's more than adequate.
Some comments on all this stuff.
First, regarding the notion that Apple's new service signals that MP3's (well, AAC in Apple's case) are the future: This has already been well-established, as far as I'm concerned. Apple didn't just suddenly invent the concept. Their goal is simply to establish a legal means for people to pursue this (and therefore funnel money into both theirs and the labels' pockets), as opposed to the rampant piracy on the peer-to-peer networks. Admittedly, offering a very nice service (which it is) may suddenly legitimize it for all the masses who didn't participate in the P2P services, but it was happening one way or another.
Second, regarding the notion of the album vs. the song: this is something I worry about as well. Here's a quote from the Apple story:
I'll make myself extra popular with this post .
1) Getting rid of the "album concept" isn't a good idea. Many artists take great care to place certain tracks in a particular order to obtain a cohesive or story-like feel to their album. Why would one mix up the order of an album's tracks anyway--is this a result of using an MP3 encoder?
2) Paying for one track at a time does seems like a good idea (though 99 cents per track seems too high for me: no disc, no case, no artwork, no lyrics?). I realize not everyone likes EVERY track on every album but I think this is another reason freebie (i.e. illegal) downloads are popular. In the past someone would have to buy the entire CD just for that song--sucky, but at least the artist would get paid for his/her work. Nowadays I wonder how much this happens anymore.
I'll say this: if the record companies ever drop the prices of CD's to a regular everyday price of $10 (LP's average price in 1983: $8) and illegal downloading continues at the same pace I will then believe a lot of people are simply common thieves. So many say they download to "teach the recording industry a lesson" but if they continue when music is only ten bucks (for a disc that essentially lasts a lifetime) then they are simply two-faced jerks & all their clever rationalizing is just a cover for their shallowness & selfishness. That may sound all high and mighty, but there was no way I could phrase this so it sounded "nice"--some things are just plain wrong and can't be sugarcoated.
Neil: your point about the 2 songs bothers me too. Much of the best music on an album is stuff that radio stations DON'T play because it's too long or too "deep" for a commercial station to make money from. But the thing is, many of my favorite songs ARE those types of songs.
I think many people are unknowingly cheating themselves out of a lot of great music.