Music Industry

Fans Want Singles. The Industry and Artists Are Still All About Albums. Now What?

Maybe the answer is a compromise that involves streaming music services. Bobby Owsinki opines in Forbes.

Just a quick look at album sales will tell you that increasingly we live in a music world where the single song is king and the album is feeling more and more unnecessary. According to the RIAA, album sales fell 11% last year after falling about the same amount the year before, and there’s no signs of a turnaround on the horizon.

The trend actually had its seeds way back in 1998 with the introduction of the MP3, then caught fire in 2003 with the launch of iTunes, as a fans everywhere rebelled against high-priced CD albums that were perceived to contain lots of filler material. After all, why pay for 10 songs when there’s only one that you want anyway?

Yet the album won’t die in the minds of artists, bands and record labels as we see more, not fewer, released every year, with the vast majority having virtually zero chance of ever being heard outside of the artist’s immediate circle of fans and friends. To many in the music business, you’re not a legit artist unless you’ve released an album, despite increasing evidence that the format is fast turning into a historical relic.

That said, just about every artist on the planet is also aware that to gain any traction in the music world at all, your music has to be on one or all of the streaming services, and that means you’re serving up singles, not albums.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37893 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

3 thoughts on “Fans Want Singles. The Industry and Artists Are Still All About Albums. Now What?

  • A perfect reflection of the world today. Give me a quick hit, not something with substance and ongoing presence. Many artists will tell you that their best material is not the most-popular songs.
    “Please not the whole damn album
    Nobody has that much time.
    Please, just the hit singles…” (Joe Jackson, “Hit Single”)

  • The EP. A single isn’t enough, an album is rarely 10 tracks of goodness. It’s the perfect digital sampler, and it’s enough to warrant a cd or a 10″ pressing.
    Give me 4-5 tracks, and release another EP in a shorter cycle than albums. Keeps your name and band fresh, you can change direction without a huge shock to the fan base.
    These days, with the amount of music available, I don’t have the time or money to keep up with my all my artists new album releases, plus keep up with new and emerging artists albums.

  • … still like the album format,to experience the artists musical
    Vision.I realize singles are what radio and the fans want but I still try and make time to listen to whole albums.
    There is an atmosphere that can only be created by listening to the whole thing.Life is fast enough.Sometimes we just gotta slow down,and enjoy every moment the artist wants to share with us.


Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.