Motley Fool writer calls Jobs a ‘smug punk’ and worries about demise of music in album form

The Motley Fool’s Bob Bobala is concerned about Apple’s iTunes Music Store and thinks, “the whole thing could destroy what I like most about music… what worries me most is that the whole concept of the album could go by the wayside if Jobs has his way. ‘Nobody thinks of albums anymore, anyway,’ he told Fortune in its May 12 issue.”

“You smug punk. I think of albums. In fact, I wholeheartedly buy albums expecting to find songs I like more than the ones that attracted me to the record in the first place. The magic is in digging into those deeper cuts that would never get radio play. Why do I need more Britney Spears singles? A good album is a piece of art. It’s like a fine book of short stories — each one belongs there and supports the other,” Bobala pens in his commentary.

Bobala continues, “Apple does sell whole albums at its music store. But why record a whole album if you can just put out a snappy hit for the masses? A musician no less prominent than Sheryl Crow told Fortune that

13 Comments

  1. Jobs is a smug punk. People who change the world are allowed to be smug. Those who continue to do so time after time, like Jobs, are rare indeed. Also, I agree that the iTMS has the potential to bring back the single and devalue albums, but who cares? Change is good.

  2. “The album as a work of art” is a concept that has only been found in a few genres and only started very recently.Mozart and Beethoven never had any idea about “albums”- they just wrote their individual compositions. Big-band and old country singers just cut a bazillion tracks which the record companies packaged into various albums. Even the early Beatles cut most of their stuff as EP’s and singles for the British market.
    “The album as art” is something that came along relatively late to a few rock and jazz acts. So please don’t act like we’re violating some ancient and sacred tradition here. If artists want to cut whole albums as art, they can, and the iTunes music store will sell them.

  3. The iTMS won’t kill album sales… the Big 5 already did that on thier own by foisting anemic albums on the music buyer for years. The only bands that put out great albums have a track record of doing so… and the big record companies no longer invest in the developement of good bands… they support a new band for 2 albums at best… and if they don’t score big… they cut them loose.

    I think it’s more likely that if someone listens to the track previews at the iTMS and here more than 3 good songs… they’ll buy the whole album. I wonder if this guy even has used the iTMS.

  4. Does anyone remember 45s? One of the reasons I like iTMS is because it reminds me of the “good ol’ days” when you could by a song you liked (along with one other, generally of lesser quality, on the flip side). I _like_ that I don’t have to buy an entire album for the one song I may like from it (and knowing that the rest is generally rubbish…to me at least).

    I do like albums in their entirety too–when they’re worth listening to. I don’t think iTMS will kill the idea of the album as long as there are people who buy albums and artists who (being artists) think of them as a work of art in whole rather than a collection of unrelated bits and pieces. The albums of the latter type of artists generally aren’t worth buying anyway, in my opinion.

  5. I too enjoy a good album if it’s meant to be an album. And I also agree that there are many times that I enjoy the non-single cuts on many albums. Apple didn’t do any harm in these areas, they only gave people a legitimate way to do what they were doing illegally. Obviously people want to buy their music this way. Two million downloads in 16 days proves it. In my mind, ITMS just makes it easier to listen to each song and see if you like it. He talked about Sheryl Crow. I actually prefer many of her songs that aren’t hits and I don’t want the hits so this makes it easier. No complaints here.

  6. Another Lame attempt to stir the “mac Zealots” to riot in his email box.

    I for one think the music industry sold away their souls and their “artists” along time ago when they started giving grammy “music awards” to individuals who would stumble across the stage incoherent, cuss the audience out, and then thank God, cuss the audience again, flash a part of their various anatomies, and then accept a trophy for some dribble only bought by mindless, parentless teens and children, that depicts the worst society has to offer, has no moral ethics, no work ethics, and no respect for the “system” or “man”- depeding on the race of the “artist” – who paid them to make the dribble in the first place.

    And we the educated consumer are expected buy 12 songs about crap, that sound like crap, and are only there so the CD can be marketed as an …. “Album” instead of CD single with some “bonus tracks”… 11 or 12 bonus tracks.

    The Music Labels will get the message. We are tired of paying for crap. Either they record the artists who actually have real music talent, and deserve an album, or simply return to the early way of doing biz where singles were king… for good reason.

    Sometimes an “artist” only has 1 or 2 good songs in them. That is all we should have to pay for.

  7. Jobs is smug? Probably.

    However, of – The Steve and Bob Blablablah – the only one of the two that is a punk, is the one who called the other one this – PUBLICLY.

    As for ‘album as art’. Up till the early-mid 60s, singles were how music was sold. ‘Compilations’ were slapped together to repackage all of an artists current hits. Sell it again.

    Then when all those groovy long-haired bands came up with concept albums (The Beatles, The Who, Yes), the birth of Blablablah’s ‘album as art’ drove into the heads of record execs that they were NEVER going to promote singles the way they did before because Albums garnered much higher PROFITS.

    By the late 70s, two good songs played on the radio was enough for bait and switch. Johnnny Limo didn’t give a damn that it took you an hour and a half to earn the take-home to buy 2-3 songs on an album of 10-12. Who in their right mind wants to knowingly buy an album like this?

    Enter Napster, et al. Who in their right mind would download an album of 10-12 songs, 9 of which ‘they’ hate? Could that be the reason for a drop in ALBUM sales? Why buy the cow if you can get a glass of milk for free, right? Even if it’s stealing from a rustler. (That would be J. Limo)

    Mr. Blablablah, could ‘CD single as art’ work? Or CD EP? Remember, they have AIFs not compressed files. And the cardboard sleeve usually has graphics of some sort.

    Where are the singles from the last 35 years available? D’oh! Johnny Limo doesn’t want to sell them. Too hard. Profits aren’t huge (like his gut). A nightmare cataloging all those singles. Easier to name-call customers that don’t want to pay $18 for ‘albums’ with 3 good songs.

    Atleast, if we were to buy 3 Cd singles – at $4-5 – from the same artist during one year, that would still come out to $12-15. And CUSTOMERS wouldn’t feel quite so ‘ripped off’, even if all of the included b-sides were trash.

    Anyway, Bob can only be correct to point out the value of the ‘Album Artist’ only if ‘Singles Artist’ is also included in our mindsets.

    Cakes and muffins. Can a store sell both? Mr. Limo thinks not.

  8. …Bob Gates is in my camp…?, oh, and his daddy’s a policeman too, I suppose? Oh, please!! Just another would-be writer trying to stir up ratings from his bully’s pulpit.

  9. Digging deeper to find more good songs? Give me a break. I can honestly say that probably 97% of all the “extra” songs on a album/CD were garbage filler. I would have much preffered to save my money (in many cases, almost $20.00 for a CD) and bought the single.
    And I thought Apple sells albums too, not just songs?

    This guy is scared of change…

    – Mark

  10. Albums are selling great in the iMS. And they always can–we just aren’t tied to them by force anymore.

    (I’d like to see Apple allow for buying an album later, and getting credit for the tracks you already bought, though.)

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