February 10, 2010

Don't Buy Albums....Buy Singles

Yes, as a musician, I'm saying that.

My friend made fun of me when I told him I only make concept albums -  as if a "concept album" is simply some weird experimental leap at trying to tell an entire story through a series of songs. But, what's the point of an album if that's not what you're doing? Giving your listeners a small price-point break? 14 songs for $10 instead of $14 to buy those $0.99 songs separately.

But how many of those songs do you really love? 1 or 2 on average? Just buy the singles. Because with most bands, there's no bigger story being told. Of course, if you want to learn the entire story of the prodigal son, you better buy the whole thing.

10 comments:

David Vox Mullen said...

Of Course!!!

Matt said...

I must disagree, my boy! Just because an album doesn't have a specific concept, doesn't mean the songs are just a collection of non-related singles. All albums are concept albums to a certain extent. Except for maybe Greatest Hits albums... The artist created these songs during a short period during his/her life, they most likely will be similar in tone, and explore similar themes according to whatever the artist is going through at the time. Also, certain songs need time to grow on you, so you have to buy an album to let each song have it's fair shot at winning you over. I must go now...

Eric Olsen said...

but you're assuming an unlimited pocket book.

Typically, you're introduced to an album because of a single song. Often, we buy the entire album and are disappointed by the rest of it. Perhaps that prevents us from buying albums so hastily in the future.

I'd rather you buy the song you were initially drawn to. Become familiar with the artist, and slowly grow into the rest of their work...if it deserves it.

Ozconnor said...

What about an option to buy one or more singles, then if they want the album, charge them the difference between the album price & what they have paid for the singles they already bought?

Eric Olsen said...

exactly. and iTunes does that!!! It's a wonderful feature.

Jeff said...

I gotta agree with Matt. Listening to am album gives you a better sense of why you like the certain songs the most, but also introduces you to the full range of the artist (if they're talented enough to have a range).

Also, I have a different philosophy about buying music entirely. It's summed up by this rather lengthy, but well worth reading, blog (not written by me) about the evolution of peer-to-peer software, the recording industry, and the best way of actually supporting artists:

http://www.demonbaby.com/blog/2007/10/when-pigs-fly-death-of-oink-birth-of.html

Arcane Rest said...

Coming from a guy that doesn't buy music at all really, I would agree that singles are the way to go. There are often disappointing songs on the whole album. However, the features of iTunes and the rest of the marketplace of online buying gives you a snippet of the rest of the songs which can win you over anyway to buy the whole CD.

Sometimes it is like trying to buy all the paintings in Picasso's Blue period when really one probably more than enough, but if you want to buy all of them (if you have that deep of pockets shoot me an email I got some things to waste your money on) to capture the artist entire 'story' of that period.

TJarrett said...

"Just because an album doesn't have a specific concept, doesn't mean the songs are just a collection of non-related singles." That is, unless your name is Ben Harper!

"Often, we buy the entire album and are disappointed by the rest of it." I typically buy entire albums because entire albums have been recommended to me by a trusted friend, or because I like one or more of the artist's other entire albums. When I do this, I am rarely disappointed. But you are right in that the few times I've purchased based on singles, I've been disappointed (Black Eyed Peas, anyone?).

Also, Kings of Leon's "Because of the Times" is a far superior album to "Only By The Night," though the latter has superior singles.

And there you have my random assortment of thoughts.

Eric Olsen said...

Jeff, good article. Although I disagreed with some of it, "Maybe taking the money out of music is the only way to get money back into it." is a very interesting theory.

As a musician who aspires for it to become my full time job, having touring be my largest source of income is terrifying to me. But, I am learning to accept it.

Although, I would like to sit in my basement and make beautiful music all day long that people would purchase from me...i'm still working on figuring out how to do that.

Jeff said...

Eric -- Hey, maybe your revenue could come from merchandise sales and you wouldn't have to tour across the country, but just do shows in the Midwest? That's not the worst thing in the world. But I see your point...