Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No more iPods! (Really?)

Jermaine Dupri has an interesting post promoting the artist's right to create albums instead of singles. If that was really his focus, I'd have to say I appreciate his point... he compares a well-crafted album to a book, and notes that stores don't sell books "by the chapter". (At least not yet... if eBooks take off, maybe that will start to change just like music has...) Some albums are indeed continuous artistic wholes - like, say, The Wall by Pink Floyd (just to name one example).

I do think there's a real opportunity for music to grow into different formats, if the business side gets worked out. Who says that the "60 minute" format is ideal - why not a "15 minute" trilogy of music? Or something else altogether? It's a new frontier, who gets to decide how people are allowed to listen to music? (Hint: if your answer for who decides how I get to listen to music is anything but me, you can probably count me out as a customer).

But back to JD... I don't think he's as much interested in defending the artistic merit of all albums as much as he is in keeping the profit margin in his comfort zone. If singles were selling for 9.99 I bet he'd be happy selling by the track. He talks about manipulating the market to spur album sells and say "Did consumers complain? Maybe so. But at what point does any business care.." Well, that's out in the open at least.

How about this? The business cares when the consumers says "Forget your marketing, we're going to buy and listen to music the way we want to. We'd rather make illegal copies than pay 'album price' when all we want is a track." It's easy to see consumers have been rejecting physical cd sales - I don't think stopping individual track sales will stop this trend in the least (a few high profile exceptions notwithstanding). JD naively thinks the record labels have the power to take MP3 players off the market ("No more iPods! They won't have nothin' to play on their players!")... he does realize most of those iPods aren't using tracks bought from iTunes, right? No, I guess not...

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