The Sun are reporting it and now DiS...(thought we'd save ya buying a paper) Terrible music and release strategies (i.e. using singles as a loss leader and way of getting media coverage) have caused a slump in singles sales.
Some stats nerd has revealed that singles sales have dropped this year by 14%. This is a 10 year low. Only 54 million singles were shifted this year - mostly Pop Idol related ones and/or pictures of Kylie or Holly's asse(t)s.
The Facts: It's the fiftieth anniversary of the singles chart sometime soon and because nine million fewer singles were bought this year, this is worrying. In a continuing drop since 1997 - when 87 million singles were shoved into the pockets of tweenies - the revelation comes as another significant wake up call for people living off hype and ancient back catalogues without developing new acts to one day fill in their wrinkley stadium gaps.
And with a fall in singles comes a measly 2% rise in album sales (although that's before xmas buying madassness has kicked in, so it might be more). Singles are meant to sell albums at a large cost and expectations. You do hear about bands getting dropped cus of crap chart results. Then again, you can hear a lot about labels buying thousands of singles.
Street facts / related problems: Look at this on the basic level...
1. Singles are too expensive for what they are (thin plastic case with one good song and two crap knocked up in the studio b-sides or dodgy cover versions.)
2. It makes more sense to get a compilation album with lots of singles.
3. The Media: Radio-overkill, hour-to-hour predictable mtv playlisting .
4. The single will also be available to download free online... quite often from the band's website.
And then there's the lack of value problem for those spending more money on phones and the internet, and a rising cost of living. Add to the equation most big albums are rushed and end up being all filla (as Sum 41 ironically pointed out!), leaving music lovers feeling ripped off and jaded. It's not ALWAYS the case, as we well know. But for those trying to swim their way outta the mainstream it's not easy and the music biz is constantly shovelling manure on top of the gems, in the hope that something will grow into a success whilst buying up, commericalising scenes, killing them, their ideals and noticeably their stars...
It really is time for big business to self-analyse rather than poke blame at people who've been liberated by technology.
The industry should bring back EP's and stop following the rules, let the bands relate with their fans more by giving them goodies and forget about the pointless singles charts. Who cares about the singles chart anyway? What about being more creative with a marketing budget than a single? Giveaways, fan-to-band relations, free gigs, maybe even creating a coalition between labels to start a radio station to play album tracks and interviewing acts? And with digital radio becoming easier to do, that might not be too far fetched an idea.
There are lessons to be learnt. Change is needed. What do you suggest?