Wednesday, February 10, 2010

For the Love of Music

The state of music purchasing disturbs me a little today.  No, not the fact that record company profits are plunging.* After the recording industry suing fans and trying to make it illegal for you to use your music how you would like for personal use, I have little love for the them.  I'm not talking about the sad condition of MTV, or even the "influx of piracy" (which I am not sure is nearly as evil as the recording industry thinks - each download does not equal a lost sale). 

My worry is that a lot of people are now buying single tracks only...and I believe this trend is increasing.  They only buy the one song that they heard on the radio and liked.  This isn't always bad, I have a few CDs that have exactly one good song on them that in hindsight I wish I could have only purchased the one track.  However, I have way more CDs that the one song that I had previously heard ended up not being my favorite.  In fact, of all my favorite songs on all the albums that I have ever purchased, I would say about 90% of those songs were never released as singles.  Had I just bought the single track, I would not know all this great music.  Just a few examples of great songs (from my current work play list) that I would never have heard if I only bought the singles:

Metallica - Blackened
Janes Addiction - Three Days
Guns N Roses - Rocket Queen
Alice in Chains - Dam that River
Megadeth - Tornado of Souls
Danzig - Twist of Cain

As you can probably tell, I am listening to a early 90's metal play list at the moment...but the same goes for every genre, every artist.  The singles are good, but if that is all you buy you are missing out on so much great music.  This is not even taking into account the entire feel of an album that can be used to create a mood or even tell a story.

You might say that singles have been around for decades and you would be right...and I still don't approve of them.  There is a large difference however between single digital tracks now and singles in the past.  In the past you would at the very least get a b-side track (if not more of a EP CD), this gave you more of a chance to try out the artist and see if you like you get nothing, you get your one track and you are done.  You will not discover the complete joy of the new artist and in ten years you will consider them a one hit wonder.

*Personally, I think it is very iffy at how much the record company profits are actually down once you figure in that the 1990's probably represented higher than average profits as consumers upgraded their music collections from cassettes and vinyl.


Lax Guy said...

I agree. If the single is the only song worth listening to, then the artist generally sucks. I cannot count how many CDs I bought because I liked a single and the rest of the CD blew donkey dick; this led me to wait until the third single was released before buying a new artist. Had "Cowboy" and "Only God Knows Why" not been released as singles, I never would have bought Devil Without a Cause (or any other Kid Rock), for example, and would have a great album.
But at the same time, there are many CDs in my collection in which the single is nowhere near my favorite on the album. Nearly every Nirvana, Greenday, Metallica, Eminem, and Soundgarden album is that way. And they all have great singles.
For fans of singles only, wait until the damn greatest hits album drops - the way god intended.

Bryan said...

These days, I scan music videos on demand for new music. If I find something I like, I hit youtube (everyone rips and posts album tracks these days). This has been working well for me. It turned me on to Three Days Grace, 30 Seconds to Mars (who I saw live and was ehhhh), the new Creed, Lacuna Coil, Bullet for my Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu and Breaking Benjamin just to name a few.

Sidenote, check out some of the new Powerman 5000 tracks if you were a fan of Tonight the Stars Revolt + Anyone for Doomsday. The two studio albums after weren't that great, but the new one (Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere) isn't bad.

Your friend PAS said...

Rocket Queen - one of my all time favs! Never gets the love though.

Michael said...

Most times I would rather have the whole CD even if I thought it kinda sucked at first...many CDs I have gone back to later (maybe even years and years later) and enjoyed what I used to hate. But I agree it is often good to wait for single #2 or 3 to come out. The way it seems to work nowadays single #2 often comes out the week after the CD anyways. There are some things though that you are just never going to listen to but you might need that one single to make someone else happy or have a party mix.

I try youtube problem is that it is just not an ideal listening environment for me. My real test is when I am driving. I don't know why but I am a better judge of music when I am on the road.

I will go on record as saying that Rocket Queen is the best GNR song.