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Are you stuck in a traditional CD/album release mindset? If so, you might be missing out on some great opportunities in the changing music marketplace.
There’s a great post today over at the always spirited Lefsetz Letter blog called “Album Last Rites.” In it, Mr. Lefsetz gives an overview of music history as it relates to singles-driven vs. album-driven time periods.
He points out how — after the Beatles inspired the creation of a new format, AOR (album-oriented rock) — major labels steered away from the single in favor of the more profitable full-length album.
That was the business model for a more than three decades … until consumers became empowered to digitally choose only the tracks they truly enjoyed.
Here’s an excerpt from the Lefsetz blog post:
People no longer listen to albums.
Society is overwhelming. We’ve got 300 TV channels, if not MORE! We’ve got a bunch of new movies EVERY weekend. We’ve got video games. We haven’t got time to sit down and listen to an hour of crap over and over again in order to get hooked. We want something ear-pleasing, NOW! We ONLY want GOOD STUFF!
His advice to artists who insist on creating concept albums:
You’re creating hour-long masterpieces that the public must eat like a day locked inside a McDonald’s, but the public only wants some McNuggets and then a taco from Taco Bell, an ice cream from Cold Stone, a donut… THAT’S what iPods are like. They’re MIX AND MATCH!
The goal is to get into the iTunes library. And you don’t do this by releasing ten cuts, but by making ONE GREAT ONE!
How, according to Lefsetz, this is changing the industry:
This is the labels’ worst nightmare. This is not their paradigm. They pay a big chunk of money to an artist to get an album which they can sell for ten bucks to make their bottom line. They’re not in the SINGLES BUSINESS!
And every act thinks it’s the Beatles, that it’s important, that it’s got a STATEMENT to make. But the audience doesn’t give a shit about ALL of this. The public just wants quality. Well, something it LIKES!
Yes, the iPod has killed the album. Technology has changed the format once again.
And, since an iPod can contain MORE MUSIC THAN ALMOST EVERYBODY EVER OWNED, there isn’t time for crap. You now have access to too much good stuff, WHY listen to the crap?
The album is OVER! Start hyping one cut. And if that catches fire, deliver ANOTHER!
I agree with this perspective, especially when it comes to online marketing and sales. However, I also think that artists still need a physical product with 10 to 15 songs on it to sell at live shows, and to make available to fans who still want a CD to hold in their hands (and there are lots of them left — don’t kid yourself).
I’ve been meaning to write a blog post called “Think Outside the Jewel Case.” Look for that soon. In the meantime, think about ways you can tap into the new singles-driven music marketplace.
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