New York Times: iTunes Music Store ‘working against the survival of the album’

“The pop album made its way through the 20th century by staying adaptable, transforming itself from analog grooves to digital bits. But can the notion of an album


  1. Fiddly-de. In the classical genre there are songs and there are song cycles Yes you can listen to the entire cycle but there are lots of instamnces of a singer performing just a single song from a cycle. Single song … … album … … how does it matter very much how you listen to this junk. The best way to listen to it is not at all. 🙁

  2. “The pop album made its way through the 20th century by staying adaptable, transforming itself from analog grooves to digital bits”

    And none of these artists ever released a 45?

  3. Lintel (well, actually LinAMD…) user here, so I haven’t followed iTMS that closely, but are there any actual instances where only the album is available, and if so what are they? I’ve heard the “no album” claim from multiple reputable sources…

  4. The Beastie Boys claim is wack. They pioneered the album-less mix CD a few years back when they put every song they ever recorded on the web for fans to buy their own anthology compilation CD.

  5. The crap to gem ratio of the songs themselves is killing the album. People finally have a legitimate way to purchase the decent stuff and avoid the garbage that fills the remainded of a CD. Electronic downloads are all about convenience and instant availability, not just avoiding paying for something.

    If they want me to purchase by album instead of by song, then they need to get at least five great songs on an album of twelve. iTunes allows me to *vey* quickly discover what is crap and what is music.

  6. I find it interesting that there are no truly artistic people (MY OPINION) pitching a fit with the concept…Alanis, CSN, Diana Krall, Stan Getz, Bobby McFerrin, etc. These guys say their albums are sacred…I’m thinking that Metallica holds ONE thing sacred $$$. That’s why they came back right? I mean we saw behind the music…they spent it all. $.99 doesn’t pay those bills does it. Give me a break…Beastie Boys…Artist…NO! The others we can argue, but for me, these guys need to shut up and ride off into the sunset like good little boyz!

  7. It seems that people have forgotten that the beginnings of rock and roll, there were no “albums” – it was a singles driven market. Only with the Beatles did the concept of rock albums take shape. So are we not really just coming full circle to the beginnings of rock w/ iTMS? Who knows, mabey this decade will gives us a new concept of the rock album” My only issue with iTMS is the lack of linear notes and no choice for a loss less compression. But that will come – we are in the infancy of digital music purchasing – the future is exciting!

  8. There are lots of whole alblums on the itunes music store. They are usually $9.99. If you are into an artist, and their “Albums.” Then it makes economic sense to buy them as albums. Unfortunatly, you only save money if their is more than 10 tracks.

    I have bought more albums than singles so far.

  9. Metallica et. al. are a bunch of hypocrites! If they don’t want the songs sold individually, then why do they sell ‘best of’ compilations? This is a hollow argument which does not speak to the real reason they are afraid of legitimate music downloading.

  10. The album didn’t start with The Beatles. For example, Sinatra released “Songs for Swinging Lovers” in 1956. I bet there were plenty before that too.

    My father’s a big Jazz fan and likes to tell of the day this album was released. He and his friends rushed from work to buy it, listened to it non stop that night and sang it and discussed it for weeks afterwards.

    And there are NO filler tracks on it.

    Recordings, starting with the gramphone aren’t really much older than the album format. It just took technology to allow albums.

    iPod and iTunes have not bee a friend to the album format. I’ve always had mine on random (song) play. Recently I’ve switched to random album becuase I just wasn’t giving the music as much time as I should.

  11. ITMS doesn’ allow people to figure out whichare good and which are filler tracks on an album. it allows a preview so you can figure out if it’s the track you thought it was. If all I listened to was music I liked from a 30 second clip, I’d have a load a crap I didn’t like any more. If I like a whole album right away without having to work at it a little, without some of the new and jarring sounds taking some time to become familiar and acceptable, I know I’m going to hate it and dismiss it as a novelty album after a couple of weeks of over play.

    When I get an album by an artist I love – Tom Waits, say, or Nick Cave, or Radiohead, I listen to it once or twice and then put it away for a couple of weeks. I deliberatley listen to it infrequently so that I can treasure it rather than just dump it for the new flavour chewing gum.

    I think some artists should definitely have the right to limit their material to album downloads (but absolutely not prevent any singles from those albums from being available individually). If all you want is the singles, then there’s no problem. If you can’t invest the time in the album trakcs, or you think 10 of the 13 tracks are not worthy of your attention, then you have the choice not to buy.

    Long live the album !

  12. All these ‘artists’ holding out for the sake of artistry and the continuing existence of the LP are really just filled with fear. How can it be though??? BBoys afraid –wha? Radiohead fear based??? RHCP –really? I can see this sort of bullsh*t from Meatallica [sic]. Totally. Metallica are now pretty much synonymous with fear, self-loathing and greed. Led-Zepp are just a bunch of grumpy old men now so what they insist upon is perhaps irrelevant. All those other bands I can’t understand though.

    What the hell is REALLY going on?

  13. What do you mean afraid ? Radiohead aren’t afraid of this. If iTMS means single downloads of Radiohead tracks, then that sucks and Radiohead are probably not interested in just marketing single songs.

    Take Amnesiac. It’s a brilliant captivating album, but you have to listen to the whole thing. Individually some of the tracks (you couldn’t call them songs) would suck. They’d be pointless. You wouldn’t download ‘Hunting Bears’ as an individual track. You’d be mad to listen to that on its own. All of the songs contirbute to the journey though. If you go to ‘Life in a Glass House’ straight from ‘Dollars & Cents’, you miss out on the two tracks that take you there.

    I’ve had these journey tracks pop up during random play before and I’ve thought, ‘what the hell is this ?’, not because they’re crap at all, but because they’re utterly out of place if they come straight after a Louis Jordan or a Curtis Mayfield song.

    I think it’s vital that such bands that actually to strive to produce something artistic and whole are given the right to keep it that way. Just because someone wants to buy a part of it doesn’t mean they should have the right to buy just part of it. Imagine if that were to apply to books or films ? Imagine if someone demanded that they didn’t want to pay $18 for the whole of Reservoir Dogs, but they just wanted to pay $99 cents for the ear-cutting scene. That would be stupid.

    You might have an artist who is just making individual songs. Sheryl Crow said she liked very much the idea of releasing songs individually and not having the pressure of having to make an album. So she could, I guess be recording a bunch of songs in a particular style, but find she’s created something odd that doesn’t fit in there. rather than squeezse it in there anyway or throwing it away, she can release it as a single track that does not come from or promote an album. So that gives her more artistic freedom.

    For Radiohead though, forcing them to allow songle downloads would mean LESS artistic freedom. The tracks like ‘Hunting Bears’ might not get downloaded and there would probably be pressure to remove them from the servers. They might then think twice about making that kind of record again.

    Don’t let the philistines win. Long live the album.

    To avoid hypocrisy, anything that’s ever available as a single or is ever part of a compilation or a greatest hits should ALWAYS be available as a separate download.

  14. I don’t see a big problem. If artists want to sell only by album let them. If artists want to sell by singles let them.

    The music industry is undergoing a type of evolution. If artists and labels cannot keep up, that is their problem.

    Remember before the artists became a success, they were struggling artists. New artists will be ecstatic to be able to release their songs to the greatest number of people. On line is the best way.

    99% of all artists come and go. In a few years after these artists either fade into oblivion or OD, new artists will take their place who will be brought up with the new technology and new business plan. Labels will eventually die as well.

    Besides, true artists are not restricted to any confining format or invented tradition.

  15. But isn’t it just BARELY less than half as albums? And of the songs that weren’t sold as albums, how many of those truly came from genuine “albums”?

    I suspect the issue is a much more minor one.

    You will NOT force some people to listen to an album straight through. Even if we stay with CDs forever, CDs have been able to skip and program tracks for 15 years. So–no albums.

    The people who DO appreciate a whole album can and will buy it. The rest won’t listen to it that way no matter what.

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