Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pink Floyd make a good point while sounding a little hypocritical. And old.

The best way to enjoy pretty much all of Pink Floyd's catalog is to listen to albums from start to finish - they were written and recorded that way and make a lot more sense when listened to the way they were intended. This is a mostly inarguable fact. Deal with it.

The members of Pink Floyd have joined a small chorus of artists who complain about their albums being available one track at a time on iTunes and Amazon, and have filed suit against their record label as a result. Fine, I've listened to Dark Side of The Moon and Wish You Were Here and The Wall and Animals and The Final Cut enough to see where they're coming from. 

There's just one thing though. More than one, actually: Relics, A Collection of Great Dance Songs, Works, and Echoes. Those are all greatest hits albums. They are carefully selected and sequenced, but each takes songs out of its originally intended place the same way. Look, "Money" means something different when not heard as part of Dark Side of The Moon. But "Have A Cigar" works whether it's on Wish You Were Here or all by its lonesome. 

The members of Pink Floyd knew years ago that not everybody freaks out about the album. For many, they don't want the entire artistic cycle. All they're looking for is the hook they heard on the radio. (Or on the tv/commercial/youtube video as it works now.)

I can respect that this is all about money. The problem is that it's not 1970 or 1980 or 1990 any more. Once you put out an album, whether the artist is the sole distributor or you're signed to one of the massive dying worldwide record labels, you lose control over how people consume it.

When it comes to Floyd, lots of people still buy the album. Look at how Green Day did with their last two albums in this new, faux, misrepresented "era of the single." Or look at Sade, who has blown the industry away by selling lots of records to lots of people without any sort of convoluted or clever marketing plan because people just want her sexy, sexy tuneage.

Artists are finding new ways to engage fans. Many have found ways to get them to buy a full album. For most, however, the days of selling an entire album to anybody who wants your stuff are over though.

Welcome to the 21st century boys. You make the art, and we'll take it from there.

Posted via email from Stephen Feller

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