But a growing number of record companies are trying to steer clear of Apple Inc.'s behemoth music store, because they say selling single songs on iTunes in some cases is crimping overall music sales.
Label executives, managers and artists chafe against the iTunes policy that prevents them from selling an album only. ITunes, with few exceptions, requires that songs be made available separately. Consumers strongly prefer that, though Apple also typically offers a special price for buyers who purchase all the songs on an album.
This is idiotic. Utterly idiotic bullshit. The labels, flush with menial successes in the last year or so, long for utter failure. I've covered the digital music industry, such as it is, since it began. (More bona fides: I had to wait months for Diamond Multimedia to win a court case with the RIAA before they could ship me the very first portable MP3 player). The most striking thing I've heard in all that time came from a source who monitored filesharing traffic several years ago who told me that the average number of songs people download per album [in about 2006] is four. That mean that even when the album is free, people don't download the whole thing. Even when the album is free! The takeaway, obviously, is that people don't want albums anymore.
I buy albums. Lots of them. But I'm old and atypical. A greybeard. Long in the tooth. Wizened. Fuck you, don't laugh. I saw N.W.A. on the Straight Outta Compton tour, fought my way to the front row for Nirvana, dropped acid at the Suicidal Tendencies and Jane's Addiction show, and rocked out to Hall and Oates on the Big Bang Boom tour with my fried Scott before my mom came to pick us up after the show. I'm street like that. Which is to say, I've never even heard of MGMT or Natalie Portman's Sideways Ponytail or The Cool Kids or whatever it is these days that you millenials listen to while you're having the anal sex. I'm still happily drowning in older classics like the minutemen and The Hold Steady.
I'm just full of guff now.
What I mean is this: Culture changes. And if people don't want to buy entire albums, you're not going to force them into doing that for very long. So what. So Kid and Play sold however many albums, earning however much money than they would have by just selling singles. That's a bullshit number. It's like measuring the amount of water in a leaking reservoir just after a rainfall. What the fuck does that tell you? The only smart strategy for labels is to make their music available in as many places in as many ways as they can. Steering clear of any paid service--be it iTunes or eMusic or Amazon--because they don't like the way customers are paying for their music is crazy and greedy.