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What *is* and isn't a single nowadays? http://drownedinsound.com/in_depth/4145991-singles-are-dead-long-live-tracks
There's two points here.
Singles aren't really singles any more, they're single track downloads (for most people) (I am guessing as I'm old).
There's also a more strict matter of definition. A song should only be a song if it has singing. Having said that, I can't get my head around saying tracks, even if there's no singing.
So I, flying in the face of what is correct English, say songs.
They just want one focal track, to taste test whether they want to invest more time (and money) into an artists album, back catalogue or a live show (even if that is just picking which 10 bands to see at a festival). So I think singles, for this reason, work quite well, in a commercial world.
However, I totally agree that for the likes of us, the gateway tracks are less important.
X Factor "single" side of things. I was suggesting that young people don't think that that is a single (does it even have a B side?) and that it's just that song what her from that program has released. Having said that, the decision by The Voice to release the song as a download only killed it getting to number 1 (didn't it?) so maybe my whole premise is wrong.
I think it's a good thing. Part of me wants to say that no real singles will make for stronger overall albums, but I'm not sure that's quite true, however it's got to mean that in a gigging scenario, a band will treat their back catalogue more or less equally, rather than being more inclined to play the 5 singles released off X album.
But yeah, anything that means more attention on a whole album rather than just singles has to be a good thing, right? Maybe? The singles market of 'so and so feat. blah blah' is pretty much completely removed from the albums market these days, isn't it?