Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Today I've been listening to some music that I recently added to my iTunes library. Conveniently, all I have to do is click on the Recently Added smart playlist and hit play. But after a few tracks I realized the albums were playing in reverse order, because the last tracks are imported more recently. A couple of the albums were compilations of blues musicians. These are typically sequenced in chronological order, so I found myself hearing the newest cuts first, and then moved back in time to earlier material. I don't think I've ever listened in this manner, and it grabbed my attention.

While many pop oriented artists are starting to release digital singles and EPs in place of full albums, I find myself scratching my head a little. Is the idea to only offer the good songs and do away with the filler tracks? Do you still play the filler tracks live? Sure, nobody wants to be forced to buy filler material to get the good songs, but I've got a great solution: Don't write it. If you write a bunch of great music, package it together as an album, and sell it for a decent price, your fans will feel like they're getting a deal when they buy 14 songs on iTunes for $9.99.

One of the albums I listened to today, in reverse order was Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever. You'd fight an uphill battle to say that album has filler tracks. They're not all hits, but they're all very good.

I think full albums with a well thought out sequence are absolutely still valid today. The problem is not the buying patterns of consumers, but the artistic vacuum known as the bottom line. We know CD sales plummetted in part because they were overpriced and full of crappy music. But what made the sales surge in the first place, for this and every format?

Not well constructed business plans. Not brilliant marketing people. Not innovations in distribution or production.

I'm pretty sure it was simply a matter of good music.


Dave said...

I've been reading a lot of music industry blogs lately and this is what I constantly want to say in their comments:

You can't trick people into buying crappy music.

Glad I got that out.

Cameron Mizell said...

Lucky for you, all those people read my blog too and will witness your rage and have an epiphany.