Check out this story in the NY Times by Jeff Leeds, about
…to do Two songs. TWO. Thas’all.
Singling out the Bestseller
The album distribution model was perfect for hard-copy records, tapes and CDs. So you really liked Pour Some Sugar On Me because you heard it on the radio. You had your mom drive you down to Musicland on 3 August, 1987 and bought Def Leppard’s Hysteria the day it came out, because if you didn’t get it, you swore you would die.
You paid $11.99, just like I did.
Why did you pay that much for one song? You only wanted the one song, but it was only available on cassette tape, and it cost $3.99. A total gyp. The CD with 12 songs for $12 is a hell of a deal in comparison. Those were your options, and they sucked.
But not anymore.
Thank God For The Internet
On the internet, you preview each song before you buy it, and you pick and choose the songs you want. Who the hell wants to buy the entire CD of Wang Chung’s Points on the Curve for ten bucks, when all you really want is Dance Hall Days for a dollar?
Yes, the time is up for the album.
It’s just as well, since few bands use albums to their full potential anyway. The article mentions Tool and Radiohead, but has anyone heard of Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick? The CD has one track on it, about 45 min long. Its not even a concept album. It’s a 45 min SONG.
Concept albums? Pink Floyd mastered the art form, but that was back in the day when people listened to albums. Nobody does that anymore. You’d have to be drunk or stupid to even try that shit nowadays.
Subscribe to the Future
But even buying a single for a dollar is going to become unnecessary:
Another solution being debated in the industry would transform record labels into de facto fan clubs. Companies including the Warner Music Group and the EMI Group have been considering a system in which fans would pay a fee, perhaps monthly, to subscribe to their favorite artists and receive a series of recordings, videos and other products spaced over time.
I wonder if I’ll get any credit for coming up with the idea first.