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New Way of Thinking

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I still don’t see Apple’s Music Store as anything revolutionary, it’s just a refinement of what has been going on for some time. But if a lot of other people see it as a revolution, that’s okay with me – the perception is as important as the reality and a TRUE revolution may follow if the perception is in place.

The Chicago Tribune thinks selling individual songs is the real revolution, but songs have been the emphasis since the dawn of Napster. Anyway:

    “Apple’s music service is the beginning of a major change in how we do business,” says Marcy Weber, an artist manager whose clients include Moby. “It means that record companies will emphasize marketing more than distribution. And it may bring us back to an emphasis on singles rather than albums, and in that sense it’s like starting all over again. It’s all going to change, and change is scary for some people. Artists may have to rethink how they present their music.”

    Artists will find they have less control over matters that once defined albums as works of art: from the way songs are sequenced to packaging of the graphics and lyrics. With consumers deciding what songs to download and in what order, and without a physical product for lyric sheets and artwork, artists with a vision beyond the three-minute pop single will have to do some rethinking.

    ….One of the main reasons peer-to-peer file-sharing has been so successful is that it has given consumers an affordable entry point into music. Years ago, the industry began phasing out the single, and left consumers with essentially only one choice: the full-length CD, at a retail price of nearly $19.

    “I remember buying Foreigner’s `Cold as Ice’ as a single because that’s the one song I wanted,” Richards says. “There are plenty of people who want just the one song, either because they can’t afford more or because they’re just not that deeply invested in music.”

    Internet distribution restores the single as a viable consumer option, and could push the Big 5 record labels further into exclusively developing entertainers whose focus is on individual hit songs rather than conceptually ambitious but potentially less profitable albums, such as Justin Timberlake, Nelly and 50 Cent.

    “The majors have been in the business of making [bad] albums with only one or two songs that people actually want to pay for,” Atkins says. In simplest terms, the record industry is in trouble because people are getting fed up with paying almost $19 for an album that contains one or two songs they want to hear. The arrival of the Internet music store provides a portal for these disaffected listeners to get those two songs relatively inexpensively, as well as to explore numerous other options.

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About Eric Olsen