It’s always fun to read one of Bob Lefsetz’s tirades about the music industry. His latest rant can be summarized — focus on great singles, forget the album:
Yes, the iPod has killed the album. Technology has changed the format once again. And, since an iPod can contain MORE MUSIC THAN ALMOST EVERYBODY EVER OWNED, there isn’t time for crap. You now have access to too much good stuff, WHY listen to the crap? The album is OVER! Start hyping one cut. And if that catches fire, deliver ANOTHER!
True dat. And yet, for some reason, I’ve always seen an album in my future, when my single-song catalog expands a bit… Why? Scott Andrew chimes in:
"There’s a validation that comes from making an album (where "album" means both "physical product" and "collection of songs"). Artists want to release them because having an album still makes us feel legitimate."
True dat too. It’s cool to be able to piont to a physical work and say, "That’s my album." Bob Baker adds:
However, I also think that artists still need a physical product with 10 to 15 songs on it to sell at live shows, and to make available to fans who still want a CD to hold in their hands (and there are lots of them left — don’t kid yourself).
So it’s economically smart as well, and honestly, music fans still buy albums.
I think we’ll see more 3- and 4-song albums in the future. If you think of the music release strategy used by DIY musicians such as Jonathan Coulton, BradSucks, MC Frontalot, and Scott Andrew, they actually resemble a sequence of singles, followed by an album which is analagous to a "Greatest Hits" compilation. It’s the reverse of the normal record label push: Blast big albums which are carried by a few heavily promoted hits. Yay, bedroom pop.