Are singles ruining the music industry or the artistic vision of the band? This is a debate that has been raging for a little while now, that I have been seeing more with labels and bands going the route of digital distribution (here and here). The crux of this debate is that people can break up an album by “cherry picking” songs rather than buying whole albums. What the debaters don’t seem know is that iTunes does work with labels to prevent people from downloading single songs of certain albums that the artist or label want to keep whole. However, this isn’t possible for most independent artist that have to get into these catalogs through CDBaby, Tunecore or the Orchard. These artists don’t have that option or the power to negotiate this.
Singles, I think, are very attractive to bands and their fans in the world of the new music industry. And with high quality studio equipment and recording software becoming more and more affordable independent, bands are making their own demos and albums for next to nothing. As bands write songs they can record them and get them out to their fans almost immediately. Bands are able to release songs faster than they can whole albums. So, in essence, many bands aren’t writing albums anymore. This is one way bands are keeping their fans interested. They no longer have to wait several months to years between releases, they can get new music as the band writes it.
I’m not knocking the album, but really, how many bands are writing songs that are meant to be part of a collection, that can’t stand alone?