As a die hard music fan I still take an interest in singles. The ‘B sides’ (for want of a name in this age of the CD) can through up some jems. But the single is slowly being killed off – a few years ago the BPI ruled for a single to qualify for the charts it had to have a maximum of three tracks. This was in an age where remixes and extra songs where de-rigour – for artists like Depeche Mode etc it was fantastic you’d get some really interesting takes on their material plus an extra song or two.
With the limitation of the number of tracks, artists started to release multiple versions of a single – a bit of a money spinner for the record companies that one, but at least each version had three tracks for your £2.99; or if you were lucky £1.99 in the first week (the norm seems to be as soon as it breaks the top forty add another £1 to price). For our friends on the far side of the pond we’re talking about ~$3.80 to ~$5.50 – that is to roughly almost half the price of an album.
Now over the last six months, probably in part due to iTunes’ pricing of a track at £0.79, and now that digital purchasing is starting to make a notable impact; you typically only get two tracks on the single priced at £1.99 (still adding that £1 after hitting the top forty). A price that even I’m baulking at, and I have the benefit of a fair level of disposable income. To pour salt onto this open wound we’re starting to see the ‘B-sides’ turn out to be other album tracks or the same track performed live with very little difference in the performance; and can often obtained elsewhere.
So, if I’m representative of a singles buyer then all we can see is a slow steady decline to sales as more and more people decide they’re not going to bend over for the record companies. Naturally, the record companies will cry foul and blame illegal downloading.