Sunday, January 22, 2006

If the recording industry executives would only ask ...

I'd tell them why music sales continue to decline.

And this is ignoring the whole matter of piracy.

It's simple. In the old days, I'd have to buy the entire CD, even if I wanted to listen to three songs. At $17.99 a pop. Remember those days? 60 to 70 minutes of music, some of which was just ... meh?

Flash forward a few years. You got an MP3 player. It was time to rip your CDs. How many songs did you not bother to rip?

Yeah, me too.

Flash forward to when iTunes set up shop. Now that I've realized I don't have to get the entire CD, I'm buying individual songs. And if I buy just the three songs I'm planning on listening to, I can get them for 99 cents each.

That's what I'm doing, and I'm probably not alone in this. When people replaced vinyl with CDs, they didn't have any choice. But replacing CDs with MP3 files is different. At this point it's possible to fill in the holes in my collection with some judicious and inexpensive downloading. And I don't have to pop for the entire album unless it's--well, "Spongeworthy" to use a Seinfeld-ism.

I'm guessing that in a hits-driven pop music culture, that's what a lot of people are doing. They're doing the equivalent of buying the singles and ignoring the albums.

There's nothing inherently wrong with this method of acquiring music. IMO that's the way the music business is heading. But it's a new model of music consumption, and the record executives need to figure it out.

They also need to stop all the whining. Because guys? Even the die-hard retrograde Baby Boomers aren't going back to the days of lying around on our beds listening to records, playing both sides of the album in order, reading all the lyrics, and trying to figure out the hidden references to illegal drugs.

Because we can just head over to iTunes and download "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," instead.


  1. I hope they don't figure it out or they will want to charge more, greedy idiots.

  2. Yeah, and let's not forget those greatest hit albums. 11 of the good songs for ten bucks. Dreck already pre-screened. Yay!

  3. i will say that i enjoy listening to an album as an entire work of art - anything radiohead, for example, byut esp. amnesiac and kid a.

    and i've discovered songs, or songs have grown on me, from an album, that i might never have found if i had not bough the whole thing.

    not that i'm not a downloader...just saying, i would miss albums.

    and don't even get me started on the artwork.

  4. and as you can see, my onehanded typing is seriously degenerating...apologies...

  5. I don't miss albums. I still buy them. I prefer artwork that is big enough to make a splash, and I like all the inserts. I'm a geek and I like read all that stuff.

    This is especially true of classical music, of course.

    But I don't miss the albums that came out when people were first switching over ... either only 30 minutes of music or 20 minutes of good stuff and 30 minutes of filler. And I like to be able to buy just the songs I really want.

    Being able to preview things on line is nice, too.

    But don't get me started on how file-sharing, iTunes, and MP3 marketing are skewed towards the three minute pop song. God forbid you have different recordings of the same pieces. Or you need to sort by composer, conductor, piece, and recording date.

    So ... my point was not "albums suck!" but that the model of music consumption has changed in the past four years, and the music industry needs to figure this out. And stop whining about sales being down.


Gentle Readers:

For the time being, I've turned off comment moderation. Please don't spam; it's not nice.

xxx, Poppy.