Friday, March 30, 2007

Can Apple Save The Album?

Apple is going to try to save the album, but will they be able to?

Will they be able to single-handedly raise album sales when in this day and age people simply aren't buying albums anymore?

Probably not, but what they're doing is a small step for them, that will bring some results in the short term.

They've finally decided that if you have purchased a single off iTunes, and then wish to purchase the whole album (within 180 days), they will credit you 99 cents for each song off the album you had already bought. So for instance, if you had 3 songs already, you'd only be paying $7.02 rather than 9.99. This offer is also retrospective to songs that have been bought in the last 90 days. The "Complete My Album" part of iTunes will remind you of the deadline so if you decide to take advantage of it, you don't have to do the math on when 180 days is up.

As someone who likes to save money, this immediately strikes me as a good thing...until I then also think about how I'd much rather listen to a playlist I've put together than buy and listen to a whole album.

The New York Times puts it well when they title an article "The Album, A Commodity in Disfavor". “I think the album is going to die,” said Aram Sinnreich, managing partner at Radar Research, a media consulting firm based in Los Angeles. “Consumers are listening to play lists,” or mixes of single songs from an assortment of different artists.

Much like my previous blog article mentioned though how album sales in particular genres such as latin music are not declining at nearly the same rate as pop music, rap, R&B, and much of country, where success is related to radio airplay of singles and their popularity. Fans of jazz, classical, opera and certain rock will demand album-length listening experiences for many years to come.

So for those not-as-popular genres, Apple's idea is fantastic. For everyone who likes mainstream music, I don't think it will make much of a difference.

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