An Old Argument: Will The Single Kill The Album?
June 21, 2013
"I always felt if we were going in to do an album, there should already be a lot of structure already made up so we could get on with that and see what else happened."
-- Jimmy Page
That's a nice quote from Jimmy Page. What else happened was that each and every Led Zeppelin album became a classic, each one unique in its own way, each one a must-have for any serious fan of rock music.
And that's what happened to so many albums by so many groups/artists back in the "glory days" of the business. Every Beatle album was great, every Stones album, every Who album, every Bob Seger album, every Springsteen album, every Eagles album, every Tom Petty album, every Elton John album. etc.
And today, artists like Wilco, Arcade Fire, The Features, Florence and the Machine, Adele, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Mumford & Sons, and others, carry on the tradition of making great albums that sell each and every time they release a new one.
I don't remember how many panels there were at the (literally) dozens of radio and records conferences I attended over the course of my near three decades working for labels, but the question of whether singles would kill the album started a long, long, time ago.
I remember at one Billboard convention in 1978 (boy, am I dating myself or not?) in New Orleans, that very question was actually a hot topic on a panel of radio programmers. Nobody on the label side thought for a second that albums would disappear. Neither did RKO Radio's VP/Programming at the time, the great Paul Drew. (Paul passed away May 16th.) A few radio people thought it might happen. It's now 35 years later, and albums are still selling.
It was my opinion then, and still is today, that the ONLY thing that will ever kill the album is a preponderance of "artists" making BAD albums.
It's a different market now, and digital sales (and illegal downloading ... yes folks it's still occurring) have no doubt made it easy to "cherry pick" the best songs out there.
The article subtitle says it was a "rousing singles vs. albums debate where both sides made strong cases."
Based on the multi-Platinum success of Adele, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, et al other multi-platinum successes over the past few decades, I'd say the album is okay. (And if you want to see the list of all the multi-platinum success stories of the past few decades just go to www.riaa.org and check it out. It's a long list)
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 2
FOLLOW-UP TO LAST WEEK'S STORY, 'APPLE'S RADIO SERVICE IS HERE ... BE AFRAID, PANDORA'
Thanks to all you readers for the many e-mails about Apple's new iTunes radio service, and what your thoughts are.
As CNET now says, "Yes, iTunes Radio could crush Pandora. But that's just for starters ... Apple might seem late to the streaming-music world, but really the digital music revolution is just getting going.
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 3
THOSE TV SINGING COMPETITION SHOWS: AN OVERVIEW
As 'Voice' Wraps, Can Singing Competitions Soar Again? Do viewers of 'Idol,' 'The Voice,' and 'X Factor think they've seen it all?
Full story at TheWrap
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 4
NETFLIX CONTINUES ITS CONTENT GROWTH WITH DREAMWORKS ANIMATION
Netflix is currently enjoying the critical and commercial success of its Kevin Spacey series 'House Of Cards,' and the redux of 'Arrested Development.'
Now, Netflix is partnering with the makers of 'Shrek' and 'Kung Fu Panda,' announcing on Monday a multi-year deal with DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc.
"The agreement is Netflix's largest for original programming," Reuters reports. "DreamWorks said the deal, which involves 300 hours of new programming, is a cornerstone of a major initiative to expand its television production and distribution,"
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 5
MYSPACE GETS KIMMEL MUSIC SETS
In a partnership aimed at regaining "cultural relevance," the newly revived MySpace has signed a one-year deal with "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to stream select extended performances of the show's musical guests over the Internet, after their appearance on-air, writes Todd Spangler in Variety. Read the whole story
(Editor's note: Will it help resurrect MySpace? I'm thinking that's dubious.)
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 6
TABLET OWNERSHIP DOUBLES
According to the Pew Research Center, 34% of American adults report ownership of a tablet, almost double the 18% adoption rate in April 2012. The report says that adoption spikes in the 35-44 age bracket, and appears to rise alongside educational attainment and household income level.
or the first time, a third of American adults own tablet computers. Read more
THE 'A-SIDE' - TRACK 7
AMAZON DOESN'T LIKE BINGE VIEWING
Unlike Netflix, Amazon apparently doesn't want viewers binging on its original content.
As such, Amazon's new political comedy starring John Goodman, "Alpha House," will not be offered to subscribers all at once, The Wrap reports. Netflix, by contrast, "has made a habit of making its original programs available all at once." Read the whole story
What's your choice? A viewing diet of scheduled episodes, or watch it all at once, several at once, etc?
THE 'A-SIDE' - BONUS TRACKS
* Paul McCartney Reigns at Bonnaroo
* Bonnaroo 2013: Top 10 Best Peformances
* Ringo Starr on display
* Watch Bob Seger sing his classic "Nightmoves" on 'The Voice' with the Swon Brothers
* Producer Zedd Talks Lady Gaga's 'Experimental' New Album
* Allman Brothers Band Rattle Through 'One Way Out' Live in 1973
* 18 most anticipated gadgets still to come this year
* Chinese supercomputer tops the charts -- two years early
* Is cable holding back superfast broadband adoption on purpose?
* MacBook Air has the battery life of an iPad
* Sony under pressure to spin off entertainment unit
* ESPN, HBO come to Apple TV
* Flying bicycle cruises at 4,000 feet
Short News Items ...
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers just wrapped their series of 11 shows in New York and L.A., which featured a deep dive into his back catalog. "It always breathes new life into things," the bandleader tells Rolling Stone. "I don't want to become a jukebox." Read More
SONGWRITERS HALL HONOREES:
Steven Tyler and Joe Perry led the latest inductees the 44th annual Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony. The event, also honoring Elton John and Bernie Taupin, underscored the durable but sometimes fractious relationships of musical collaborators.
JONES BIOPIC IN WORKS:
28 Entertainment has begun work on a movie about iconic country music singer George Jones and his wife Nancy, the company announced Tuesday. It has acquired the rights to the project, written by Dennis L. Baxter and produced by Baxter and 28 Entertainment's Jay Hoffman and Brian A. Hoffman, which depicts George's life as a country music legend while battling his personal demons.
MAYER'S NEW SONG:
The new video for John Mayer's "Paper Doll," a sweet, subtle heartbreaker, comes just weeks after the guitarist said he's working on the follow-up to last year's "Born and Raised." Despite the goofy "prancercising" video, rumor has it the song is about a certain red-loving ex. Read More
BEATLES 45 BRINGS BIG BUX:
A rare demo of the Beatles' first single, "Love Me Do," has sold on eBay for more than $10,000. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, the 45 was reportedly one out of only 250 made for radio station airplay in 1962. The demo from the personal collection of the seller predates the more familiar Parlophone imprints of the single.
It's an enduring debate: "Abbey Roa" was the last album the Beatles recorded, but "Let It Be" was the last they released. So which one qualifies as the band's true farewell? Sentimentally, argues Rob Sheffield, "Abbey Road" has the edge, but it's a tough call. Read More
SPOTIFY GETS FLOYD:
Pink Floyd has held out against Spotify for quite some time, but now the rockers' catalog has arrived on the streaming service. Spotify announced the news on Twitter, confirming that fans hit the million-stream mark to unlock Pink Floyd's catalog set last week.
iTUNES GETS STONED:
The Rolling Stones have released their entire catalog on iTunes as part of the band's 50th anniversary celebration. According to Reuters, the new release spans the rockers' history from their first single in 1963 (a cover of Chuck Berry's "Come On") to last year's GRRR! compilation and includes all the band's studio albums, live performances and compilations. In addition, the complete catalog is available in two chunks, from 1961-1971 and 1971-2013.
SABBATH #1 IN U.K.:
Black Sabbath have topped the U.K. albums chart for the first time in nearly 43 years, setting a record for the longest gap between #1 albums. The band's latest, "13," entered the Official U.K. Albums Chart in the top spot, 42 years and eight months after their second album, "Paranoid," reached #1 in 1970.
JULIAN IS OK:
After taking up photography, Julian Lennon has learned to embrace his artistic gift. Now 50, he was "young and ignorant" when fame was forced on him in the early '80s. With his first new album in 15 years, he's "more comfortable in my own skin," he tells Rolling Stone. Read More
THE DRIVE-INS MAKING A COMEBACK?
The drive-in movie theater, 80 years old, has plummeted since peaking in the '50s, from about 5,000 to 360 today. But there are signs the business is coming back, with digital distribution changing the industry and families looking for alternatives to the multiplex.
James Gandolfini, who helped usher in a new golden era of television as mob boss Tony Soprano on HBO's "The Sopranos," died suddenly in Rome this week of a possible heart attack. He was 51. A spokeswoman for the cable network said that Gandolfini was on holiday in Italy, and provided the apparent cause of death.
Slim Whitman, whose yodeling vocals sold millions of records and became a TV fixture in the '80s and '90s thanks to his seemingly ubiquitous ads, died Wednesday at age 90, the Associated Press reports.
Chet Flippo, a former Rolling Stone editor who was the editorial director of CMT, died this week. He was 69. No cause of death was available. Flippo started writing for Rolling Stone when he was studying at the University of Texas in Austin, where he earned a master's degree in journalism. He became Rolling Stone's New York bureau chief in 1974, and took on the title of senior editor when the magazine relocated from San Francisco in 1977.
BuzzFeed reporter Michael Hastings died Tuesday morning in Los Angeles. He was 33. Hastings was killed in a car accident. Media reports indicate that the accident took place on the 600 block of North Highland Ave. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene of that crash. Hastings covered politics and war for BuzzFeed and Rolling Stone.
Quotes of the week
"We have one simple idea – we are on the planet to do it for you one more time. [Laughs] What happened yesterday or the year before or 30 years ago – we hope we did a good job then. But we are here to do it for you one [pauses] more [pauses] time. We're trying to write one more song that's going to mean something to you, the way I hope some of my earlier music connected. And we're here to play one more show that feels like tonight was the greatest night we ever played. That's just a road-dog code of honor. We're not out here to pass the time."
-- Bruce Springsteen in Rolling Stone, talking about his belief in making every show he and the E-Street Band do, the best. Read what he has to say on the refreshed state of his E Street Band, his current European tour and the emotional power of his songs abroad, and the passing of Clarence Clemons. Read More
"I did a song with Snoop Dogg called 'Ashtrays and Heartbreaks,' so people can put it together for themselves. I think alcohol is way more dangerous than marijuana – people can be mad at me for saying that, but I don't care. I've seen a lot of people spiral down with alcohol, but I've never seen that happen with weed."
-- Miley Cyrus, in Rolling Stone
"I was madly in love with him. I still am madly in love with him."
-- Katy Perry, talking about John Mayer, in Rolling Stone (Love him all you want Katy, he's a free agent)
The B-Side - 'Blips'
THE ONION (www.theonion.com) STORY OF THE WEEK:
'After Earth II' Tanks At Box Office
LOS ANGELES—According to box-office returns, the new Will Smith film After Earth II, the sequel to last month's science-fiction adventure-drama After Earth, performed disastrously in movie theaters over the weekend.
The Music Industry Past, Present & Future, And The Internet I answer questions on EconTalk
I did an interview about the industry and the Internet at EconTalk with host Russ Roberts. Russ is also a professor of economics at George Mason University, blogs at Cafe Hayek, and has written three novels that teach economics. He's also the co-creator of the Keynes-Hayek rap video. (And if your understanding of the economic meltdown that occurred needs to be enlightened, this video will do it)
In the interview we talk about the evolution of the music industry, the impact of the digital revolution, and I give my reasons for believing in the virtues and potential of the Internet in enhancing the music industry. I point out, as I have many times here in the newsletter, that the internet allows numerous artists to make money from their music and it can enhance revenues from live performances by expanding an artist's base. We also discuss the challenges facing record companies and I suggest that the full potential of the Internet as a distribution channel has yet to be fully exploited. There's a lot of ground covered, but based on the comments already posted of those who have tuned in, they've enjoyed it.
Read more about it by clicking here.
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