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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Yet another example of how the industry doesn't get it.

Jermaine Dupri on Jay-Z's decision not to sell his new album on iTunes because of their singles based business model:

Here's the money quote:

"...Back in the day when people were excited about a record coming out we'd put out a single to get the ball going and if we sold a lot of singles that was an indication we'd sell a lot of albums. But we'd cut the single off a few weeks before the album came out to get people to wait and let the excitement build. When I put out Kris Kross we did that. We sold two million singles, then we stopped. Eventually we sold eight million albums!"

And I would say that is an excellent example of the kind of industry crap that has led to the present situation. Honestly, would anyone (aside from Mr. Dupri) argue the Kriss Kross album needed to be heard in it's entirety? Most people probably wanted the single and I'd wager it was probably the only track worth hearing.

People bought the album because they single wasn't available. And guess what? That album clogged used bins for most of the 90s because people didn't really want it. Don't you think that maybe forcing consumers to shell out for a full priced mediocre album when all they wanted was the single might have something to do with the resentment people have towards the industry?

Dupri wants to accuse Steve Jobs of ruining "the artist's canvas" but give me a break. Jobs didn't invent the single. Hell, until the mid-50s the recording industry was nothing but singles. And, until everyone decided to kill them off and force albums on the consumers, the single was still a valid way of purchasing music into the 90s. (In the UK, one could argue it never really died as they still seem to love their singles.)

Furthermore, I'd say being part of the movement that took away singles in favor of flaccid full lengths, probably has more to do with the current situation than Apple. If I recall correctly, most people I knew who were trading music on Napster back in the day before the iPod, were trading radio singles because that's all people wanted and you couldn't just get the singles any other way.

Back to the article, I have to add it's completely appropriate that Dupri would mention Soulja Boi preceding that Kriss Kross quote above. The problem is, Dupri, the executive, doesn't see that he's comparing one hit wonders that people only want a single from. He thinks they should have forced the Soulja Boi album on people like they did with Kriss Kross. Does he really think, in this day and age, 4 million singles would have translated to 4 million albums?

Dupri, you can try to frame this as artists vs. business men, but the reality is you keep tipping your hand and showing this is really business men vs. the consumer. The 90s are over. They aren't coming back. Music fans aren't going to stand for being forced to buy a full priced album when all they need is a track or two and you have two choices. You can either make that happen legally or your customers will turn to other means to get what they want.

Oh and next time you want to make a point, any point, about "artists," you'll make a much better case if you keep names like Kriss Kross and Soulja Boi as far away from your thesis as possible.

Now playing: Brad Mehldau - Paranoid Android
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1 comment:

Kevin P. said...

At least he managed to write the article in more-or-less intelligible English, though I have to admit I find it hard to take him seriously every time a coloquialism like "my man" pops into things.

It's nice to know that the producer's perspective of what's "destroying the canvas" is anything that lowers profits.

When did art become based solely on the potential profits that could be made from such? Did I miss a meeting?