This may sound complicated but I believe there is actually a very simple solution, and it came from a recent verdict regarding the agreement between Pink Floyd and their record label, EMI.
The result was enforcement of a clause that prevented EMI from breaking up the band’s albums without their permission.
Why is this so important? What does this have to do with saving the industry?
As long as the majors allow digital retailers to sell singles, the industry will continue its decline. This is such a simple fix and Pink Floyd at least had the balls to point it out by enforcing EMI to only allow their works to be sold as one, not cherry picked by track, as per their contract.
Death of the CD means little, its the death of the complete “album” that people should worry about.
Few cried when we moved from vinyl to CD. The sad part about losing the CD is it’s the last printed version of the great artwork, info and credits that used to be a part of the listening experience.
I don’t see anything wrong selling a promo single but once you have an “album” of music from the same session/concept, I think it should be only sold as a package. So make the single a pre-release “limited time offer”. This should also stimulate “get it now or lose out” mind set.
I grew up in the 70’s and bought records for $5-$10. NO ONE ever bought a single, and I refuse to believe the excuse that this generation of music consumers will never transition. That’s all we’ve done since the 60’s: singles > albums > CD’s > digital singles > (enter what you want it to be here) …hmmm…looks like if history is to repeat the cycle, digital albums should come next!
And the previously released single should now be in it’s full version on the album. Release the promo single in a short edited length, and put the full version on the digital album. This way the Consumer feels like they’re getting something new and different than what they already have.
If listeners are too shallow then I say too f-ing bad. Support the artist and let the deeper cuts grow on you.
Could you imagine only knowing Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung” and “Cross Eyed Mary” but never taking the time to discover “Locomotive Breath” or my all time favorite, “My God” – one of Tull’s most brilliant songs of the day?
Fans are only cheating themselves if they only listen superficially. Also know that the growth of internet radio is happening because of “variety and control”. There will always be the mass consumer who is perfectly content to have the “hits” spoon fed to them by terrestrial radio. Good luck getting on that playlist. The real consumer is on the web and wants “discovery”, they only need to be shown the way, and that’s our job.
From a marketing perspective, singles in the past were always released as promos for radio airplay to give listeners a “taste” of what to expect from the album and live tour. They were teasers, carnival barkers for the real show. Now they are the show and it’s not working. The industry is suffering as a whole because of this.
Unfortunately, there are many times when an artist just fills in the rest of the tracks with less than a stellar effort which is too bad since the customer feels gyped.
On the other side, there are many truly talented artists who write the “hit” and promote it as a single to draw listeners into hearing their “better” songs which showcase more of their creativity and talents.
I would use “Extreme” as an excellent example. Their song “More Than Words” got plenty of airplay, was very well written and produced, and put them on the map, but listen to their other work and you’ll be blown away on a whole other level.
Anyway, the beauty of the internet is that artists are now empowered to market any way they like. My recommendation is that if the artist has an album of songs, that they do what Pink Floyd did: maintain the integrity of the complete work and let the fan hear everything. You may find that the cut you buried deep down on the list turns out to be your most appreciated masterpiece!
Sell the album, not the single!