Wednesday, September 30, 2009

is the music 'album' dying?

i know we've been hearing about the music album dying since mp3 became popular, but for the first time i'm starting to think that full length albums might not be around much longer.
a lot of people already buy mostly individual songs through itunes or other mp3 stores. if you are not passionate about music or any specific band, you probably don't follow up on album release dates.
i used to have tons of cassette tapes to collect albums that my friends had bought and that i couldn't afford. when mp3's became popular i started downloading albums. not songs; albums! even today i miss the feeling of taking a CD of the shelf or - even better - an LP out of it's cover. i know, i'm a nostalgic sentimentalist but apparently i'm not the only one.
earlier this month, apple introduced 'itunes lp', an attempt to recreate album art and liner notes that supposedly died with the vinyl record. i don't think the vinyl record is dead or obsolete, it's just not a mass market product anymore. and honestly, i wonder if anyone is really waiting for something like itunes lp. remember when, a few years ago, a lot of bands tried to lure their fans into spending some money to become members of their website. in return you'd have access to premium content: unreleased songs, priority concert tickets, etc. as far as i can tell that never became a big success. itunes lp tries to make you sit in front of your computer to read song lyrics or look at pictures of the band. is that more exciting? maybe it is, for a while, but will it be an incentive to spend money? i wouldn't bet on it.
if you ask me (of course you didn't, but that's what this journal is for: unsolicited comments), i think the future of the music business is subscription based. is great, but i like to listen to music on the subway and not worry about hogging bandwidth while i'm at work. microsoft's zune pass is a subscription service that allows you to download and keep a limited amount of songs every month, that's nice. and napster has a similar service. so far the most promising and exciting initiative is spotify. unfortunately spotify is not available in the us (and probably won't be for a while). a lot of people are eagerly awaiting the day the itunes store releases a subscription based service, and i am one of them. is apple stupid or out of the loop? of course not, they are merely waiting until they think the old school way of selling music is less profitable than the subscription model. they know what they are doing and we follow like sheep; myself included. but if it takes much longer, i might give up the convenience of my itunes-ipod-mac combo and switch to a more painful but more rewarding subscription service. could i really become a napster user again?!

1 comment:

fred at thedrawingfarm said...

oh and itunes needs to get rid of '30 seconds samples' immediately! just stream the whole album once for every account, if you like it enough to hear it again, you'll buy it... 30 seconds samples ruin your impression of what might be a great song/album...

speaking of streaming the whole album:
(will people still buy this soundtrack? of course they will!)