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Artists Protesting Single-Song Downloads 811

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-artists dept.
prostoalex writes "The 99 cent downloads are stirring some discussion in the music community. Linkin Park, Radiohead, Madonna, Jewel and Green Day are protesting music stores' policy of single-song downloads and introduce some stipulations, requiring their work to be sold as albums. "The fear among artists is that the work of art they put together, the album, will become a thing of the past," says attorney Fred Goldring, whose firm represents Will Smith and Alanis Morissette."
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Artists Protesting Single-Song Downloads

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  • fools (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Neophytus (642863) * on Sunday June 22, 2003 @08:23AM (#6266544)
    Artist representatives say a singles-oriented model means a significant hit to the bottom line. Instead of divvying the spoils of a $12-$18 CD sale, labels, artists and songwriters are vying for nickels and dimes from 99 cent downloads.
    As the article earlier today [slashdot.org] demonstrated, artists do not get a good share of the 'spoils' from a $12 CD, and they are very naieve if they think their current contracts are giving them a good deal. 12%, albiet in the form of 12 cents, is a step up from the status quo.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2003 @08:27AM (#6266555)
    They should make their albums available at 99 cents each, oh, but wait, they won't make as much money...
  • by usurper_ii (306966) <eyes0nly@quest 4 . org> on Sunday June 22, 2003 @08:30AM (#6266568) Homepage
    I think in the end they are going to find that while a band might sell 500 thousand albums at $15.00-plus, they might sell 2 million of that one good song for .99 cents...and 1 million of that other song on the album that was pretty good. And then the die hard fans are still going to buy the whole thing, so they will make money off of the rest of the "filler," too.

    Go that way really fast, if something gets in your way, turn.

    Usurper_ii
  • Re:Typical...... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Thrakkerzog (7580) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @08:32AM (#6266581)
    I wouldn't call Radiohead a "big crap artist".

    They have some of the most loyal fans out there. If Hail to the Thief had been on the iTunes Music Store, I would have bought it there. It's not, so I ended up going to best buy to pick it up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2003 @08:35AM (#6266599)
    earn your money doing live concert tours. Half of these idiototic, "so called" musicians, like Will Smith do not even play musical instruments. Go to a Will Smith show and watch him run around on stage rapping to pre-recorded music tracks from a cd player behind the stage is not exactly my idea of entertainment.

    Would you rather spend $ 40.00 go to watch talented artists like Rush or Dream Theatre, or the talentless Karaoke artists like Eminem or Will Smith ?

    Proabably if your old enough to remember what good music is all about.

  • I agree (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TinoMNYY24 (569172) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @08:36AM (#6266602)
    I just wanted to post my two cents in here, mostly because I don't want to be forced to moderate this discussion. I think most people on SlashDot will agree that the current trend that the music industry is taking is very stupid. From ridiculous "copy protection" that destroys computers and CD drives to prosecuting music fans, to now trying to continue forcing customers to buy 10 shitty songs along with the 1 that they want...the music industry in general is isolating their true fans. The people that they could make money from are the hardcore music fans. People who mass-download shit off P2P networks, find artists that they enjoy, and support them. When I download music by a rare artist that I heard was good, I try to find a way to send them money without going through the label. If they have a website, I paypal money to their contact address, or I click their donate link if the have one. If there isn't any way to give them money, I buy their new album when it comes out. There's no way to get fans if no one hears your music. Clear Channel radio won't play anything that no one knows about, and no one wants to pay $20 for music that they don't know they will like or not.

    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    -Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), Letter to Josiah Quincy, Sept. 11, 1773.

  • by visualight (468005) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @08:38AM (#6266616) Homepage
    If Madonna wants to insist that her music is only available as an album then let her have her way as long as she can't force every artist to do the same thing. If she's truly an artist then million dollar mansions aren't of primary importance to her and the resulting loss of income shouldn't bother her.

    If, however she's in it for the money, then she's a business, and as a business she has customers to satisfy. If she can't or won't supply what her customers want they'll move elsewhere.

    The only way this could matter is if a few top names are able to control the entire industry with regards to single song downloads. That is, Madonna knows she'll lose customers if she doesn't allow single downloads so, out of spite, she somehow is able to end single downloads altogether.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2003 @08:41AM (#6266632)
    Okay, I have a pretty "off the wall" idea here. Maybe, just maybe, the artists are right for once.

    Most of my favourite bands aren't really "single makers". With the likes of Pink Floyd and Radiohead the albums themselves are much more than the sum of their parts. Taking out individual singles doesn't fit in with their style of music making.

    I don't agree with the commercial arguments but artistically I think they're right. So shoot me.
  • by webword (82711) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @08:43AM (#6266638) Homepage
    As a very serious exercise, try to name albums where every track is good or great. Off the top of my head, I can only name a few from my own collection. I did a quick review of my 120 CDs and only 6 of the CDs fit this description. That's only 5% of the total.

    By the way, what albums of yours fit this description? What are some "perfect" albums that are good from start to finish? I'm always looking for good stuff, especially hard rock and heavy metal! ;-)
  • by StringBlade (557322) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @08:45AM (#6266647) Journal
    The only album that jumps straight to my mind as a work of art that is not complete unless it's whole is Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Each song flows into the next creating an essentially unbreakable hour-long song. None of these artists do anything remotely close to that and I can't agree that these albums they talk of are a singular work of art. Mostly they are poorly arranged collections of small works of art (such as a private home gallery).
  • Re:fools (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:00AM (#6266730)
    They may be receiving more in terms of per track sales; however, I think the real problem here is if every Joe Downloader will find tracks 2,3,6, and 8 "good" on the album and disregard the rest. They'll have spent only $4 then for music and even at a greater per track revenue, they could be losing money on an album. Some could argue, "Then just make a great album so we'll want to buy all the tracks!" but what's "great" is so relative and single track downloads almost creates a pop-only market. If the song isn't a "hit," no one wants it. And the perpetuation of the pop market is a horrible one for quality music. F*#$'n American Idol! It also hurts the artist since the return of sales is how an artist pays for all the money the label hemorrhaged to make the artist "market viable" (e.g. spending $20k for a stupid website).

    Single track downloads should be free for singles (with some compensation for the infrastructure costs -- joining a mail list, filling out a product form, watching a Pepsi Flash commercial, etc.) and you should be able to purchase albums-only as payable downloads in my opinion. The musicians have a right to be afraid of this, I think.
  • by farrellj (563) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:00AM (#6266735) Homepage Journal
    Name the last album you listend to that had a theme, thematic or musical, through the whole album...soundtacks don't count!

    The music industry has worked hard to kill songs that tell stories...song that make you think. With no songs that tell a story, the songwriting paradign that comes to us from the dawn of time, through the Celtic Bards and Troubadors, and into our time, there is no need for albums...for albums are for stories that are longer than one song.

    And with the death of the album, the record companies are maybe hoping to reduce recording costs by just having their "made" artists (N'Sync, Spears, Idol stars, etc.) go in and record a new song whenever their demographics department thinks that a new song by that artist will be successful.

    And if you want a really cynical view of ths music industry, hunt down a book called _Little Heros_ by Norman Spinrad, borderline cyberpunk, and some good Erisian in-jokes.

    ttyl
    Farrell
  • by Ada_Rules (260218) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:02AM (#6266740) Homepage Journal
    In the US, there are anti-trust laws that say that you can not (under specific rules) force people to buy one less desireable product in order to get a more "desireable" product. It is called bundling and in some cases it is a violation of anti-trust law.

    This is one of the area's that Microsoft was getting in trouble for with bundling the browser with the OS since in order to get the "desireable" product (cough...windows) you HAD to buy (bundled) the Browser.

    So, apparently the artists are in favor of Big Money/Anti-competative/Corporate rip-offs...As long as it is in the name of art.

    You know, I think strip mining is an important artistic commentary on our world today..I think I will try to bring it back in the name of Art.

    At least Madonna and Alanis Morissette will be on my side.
  • by smack.addict (116174) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:02AM (#6266743)
    Artists have had 40 years to do something creative with albums. Instead, they have used it as a forum for pawning off a handful of good songs with a mass of shitty songs they could not otherwise sell. In the 40 years of the LP format, I think there are only 4 that have used the format itself as an art:
    • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles
    • The Beatles, The Beatles (the white album
    • The Final Cut, Pink Floyd
    • Pornography, The Cure
    I am sure others exist, and I am sure people can bring up lists of their own favorites. My point is more that out of the hundreds and hundreds of CDs and LPs I own, I only consider 4 to be artistically harmed by pulling them apart. That's just sad.

    Here is something even sadder.

    I have ripped all of mine and my wife's CDs onto a server in my house. That is 22 GB of music.

    I then went through and rated all of the songs I liked. Of the 22 GB of music, I consider only 7 GB worth listening to in the quirkiest of moods. That is 15 GB I consider complete worthless crap.

    Now, it is true you can dismiss some of the crap as "what the hell was I thinking back then" or "what relative thought I listened to this shit" or "why does my wife like heavy metal". That accounts for 2-3 GB.

    Under a charitable view of things, this suggests that 12 out of every 19 songs released is considered crap by an artist's own fans! And they want to keep forcing me to pay for this shit?

    No more buying albums for me. No thanks. I will preview each new song on the Apple Music Store. If it is any good, I will buy it. If I like the band, I will preview it several times. This will also prevent me from buying crap like REM's Up.

  • by izzylobo (97456) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:04AM (#6266756)
    There are some others - Queensryche's "Operation Mindcrime", ELO's "Time", and Styx's "Mr. Roboto" spring to mind, and there are others as well (perhaps Sting's "Ten Summoner's Tales") that while not directly linked, are thematically linked in some fashion or another, such that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

    Nonetheless, it is certainly true that the average album is a collection of songs, rather than a coherent whole - while there may be planning and thought that goes into designing the album (we need a ballad, a couple of rockin' tunes, some dance-y stuff, and an experimental piece...) it's not like the entire album is sculpted towards any theme other than "sell the album", in general - and in many cases, it's more "fill the album with sixty-seventy minutes of music, so the fans don't feel cheated.

    But, well, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.
  • Re:Typical...... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by alangmead (109702) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:10AM (#6266780)
    There is a difference between a record publisher releasing singles of an artist album, and releasing the whole album piecemeal.

    Singles are carefully chosen, and their release carefully timed, to cause an increase in sales of the corresponding album.
  • Work of art? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aliens (90441) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:11AM (#6266783) Homepage Journal
    They're being very stupid on this one. They say they don't want their "art" to be chopped up and hence ruined. So what about shuffle on my CD player you want that taken away too?

    These people make me sick, glad I didn't goto that mess of a radiohead show here in NY a few weeks ago.

    Can you imagine a painter sitting in a gallery and whenever someone came in and looked at his painting from a different angle than he wanted; he'd come running over crying like a bitch and force you to stand, 85.5degrees from center, clamp open your eyelids so you can't not look at any of it and keep you there for 1:15?

    I'm done buying any music from the RIAA sponsored pukes. Before I was iffy, but now I'm certain I can find better, free as in expression, and cheap as in price bands to listen to.

  • Re:Work of Art (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kardar (636122) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:15AM (#6266804)
    As a musician, I have always felt that it's not even the whole song that leaves the impression on the listener. Certainly any musician wishes to leave some sort of impression on the listener, maybe impart a certain message to the listener. Really, all it takes is one vibe. You can have many cool vibes in one song, typical song being 5 minutes (pop music).

    Those vibes add up in the forms of choruses, verses, and catchy melodies. You could call it a "hit" if you want, but that's not every musician's goal. It's not as simple as having a nice album to put on your wall. I don't think that's it.

    It shouldn't matter if the listener hears the song on the radio, or from a passing car, or in some other temporary, incomplete setting. One vibe, one chorus, one chord, one sound should be enough to get the message across.

    I find it hard to believe that any artist would find that it takes an entire album for a listener to derive something positive and beneficial, or just cool and funky, or upbeat and exciting, or slow and introspective. It should only take 5 seconds of music from a passing car to share a good vibe through music.

    I am not sure that insisting that people buy the whole album is all it's cracked up to be. It's probably best to make sure that anyone who wants the album can buy it just as easily as they can the single (i.e. have a link next to the single that says "buy album" or something similar).

    The thought that music that you make will be heard by millions of people around the world should be enough to realize that one song is all that you really need to take that first step on the path towards expressing yourself. Certainly, people buying your work hardly qualifies as something that stands in your way!

    I would rather have millions and millions of people listen to part of one song than hundreds of thousands of people listen to a whole album. Better yet, there shouldn't be any reason to not have both, unless you are just in it for the money, or the fame, or the luxuries, etc...

    It's an imperfect world - as an artist, I prefer to concentrate on the good parts - knowing that music you create is going to be heard by lots and lots of people you will probably never meet is REALLY COOL - it's better to step back and just let it happen (in my opinion). The minute you get eccentric and strange you lose a certain connection, and the music becomes less meaningful than it has the potential to be.
  • Re:Typical...... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cheekyal (682826) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:15AM (#6266805)
    Saying that Radiohead 'sucks from now' just because they prefer their output to be seen as a collection of songs rather than randomly selected songs seems to be quite vacuous to me. It also implies a distinct lack of musical appreciation, as you are rating the band on their statements and opinion rather than their music. Surely if you like the music, what the band says (within reason) is unimportant. If you like the songs, then how can you say the band sucks because they want you to buy their album? It makes no sense. If, of course, you don't like the songs, then fair comment, and in your opinion Radiohead 'suck' anyway, regardless of what they say or do.
  • Re:Typical...... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:16AM (#6266818)
    So far, this isn't any artists. This is artists' attorneys. And these are artists' attorneys who are willing to say they represent multiple parties (artists) when discussing a topic. Normally, attorneys do not disclose multiple parties being represented -- they act to represent one client at a time. That means, these are the corporately-appointed attorneys who say what the music companies tell them to. Then they say they represent multiple big stars to the public, and have the public on its own incorrectly infer these artists are behind the whining. Instead, it is the music companies behind this -- seeking any way to discredit the movement to a new business model which ultimately means these artists, any artists, do not need the old music companies and their huge cut of sales.
  • Re:Of Course (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jkabbe (631234) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:30AM (#6266889)
    Indeed, there is definately a market out there. Whats I was ranting about was people trying to hide behind some dumb excuse, rather than just admit they were stealing it because they could.

    If you look around the bulletin boards and ask around you will see that many people who used to download are now using the iTMS because it meets their needs.

    Many people want to pay but simply didn't like the payment options available.

    Does that justify stealing? No. But it's not dumb. And it's not stealing "just because they could." If it were, these people would just have continued to steal.

    There is a market. The artists just need to find it! Apple's iTMS is a good start.

  • Re:Typical...... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lysol (11150) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:36AM (#6266935)
    I've listened to Radiohead for a *long* time and to see them jumping on the bandwagon with Madonna and the likes has bummed me out.

    Look, yah, they probably get paid less, but if they're such artists then they should realize that people will still buy the cd for the art. Why should, for arts sake, it be any different if I downloaded the entire album vs. song by song? Or is it the whole 'you-get-the-cd-art' argument? Regardless, this specific issues doesn't really seem about art but obviously more about money.

    And frankly, I hold people's art and opinions and thoughts all together. If someone made a totally political song and then went out and did the opposite, I'd think that's pretty lame. I'm not gonna necessairly write Radiohead off as a suck band now, but this statement will definitely call into question how I veiw them and their art.

    I think the single song download has to stay alive - it's a way to keep artists in check. If an artist is really a kick ass artist, then everything they put out should be interesting. But if they're so-so, then why put up with the crap you don't like? This, if anything, should help the artist since labels want them to pump out as much crap as possible so they can sell as much and profit as much. The individual tune will let the 'consumer'/fan/whatever hold the power to actually say what they will and will not buy.

    It's common knowledge the record industry is one step short of a crime syndicate (others may disagree). If artists are bitching about not making enough money, then disband and reband under a different name with an indie or some other label that will give you a bigger cut - bands do it all the time. There are plenty of people who still love the art and still make money and still have integrity. When the likes of Madonna and Linkin Park start whining about cash, then that's when my 'fuck-off' light goes on... *shrugs*
  • Re:Of Course (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:36AM (#6266939)
    In other words, I should be forced to buy several songs that I may have never heard along with the one or two I have heard and want. Dude, I don't buy ANYTHING sight-unseen or any music I haven't heard. Deal with it.
  • by The-Bus (138060) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:44AM (#6266978)
    Here's a few others, all very recent albums.

    Mr. Lif's I Phantom [allmusic.com] and Prince Paul's Prince Among Thieves [allmusic.com] : Both concept albums (the latter being an opera), which can be sampled as single songs, but can't be enjoyed as a full album. I Phantom has recurring characters and storylines throughout and the final two songs are about the apocalypse which ultimately destroys everyone that was described earlier in the album.

    Beck's Sea Change [allmusic.com] is Beck's break-up album, and the album moves through different views and feelings he has until the final song, where he realizes what he did and how he got to where he is ("I never thought I'd live / Till the ugly truth / Showed me what it did").

    Air's City Reading [allmusic.com] is a group of three westerns read by their author, Alessandro Baricco, over backing music by Air. Again, no single song really does it justice.

    Then there's just tons of albums that are very good where every song is amazing, but these are all concept albums where it doesn't make sense to have only one song. Bottom line: You don't need to make a concept album. Make an album with good songs and no filler and we will buy the entire album.

  • by finkployd (12902) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:44AM (#6266981) Homepage
    Pink Floyd:
    Another Brick in the Wall
    Dark Side of the Moon

    The Who:
    Tommy

    The Beatles:
    Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

    These are albums meant to be listented to in their entirety. They are true works or art. Even if you do not particularly like this type of music (I personally never liked Tommy), you have to appreciate the amount of work and attention to detail that obviously went into every song to make it fit with the whole.

    Finkployd
  • by jodo (209027) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @09:45AM (#6266983)
    Art is lead by technology. In the field of recorded music, the album came to the front when the lp (long playing) format was invented. Eight track, cassette, cd and dvd followed. But prior to the lp we had a golden age of singles. Which fit into the jukebox format, a critical element of the past. And throughout all of this radio played single cuts almost exclusively.
    Now we are in the download age. Pick a track. Singles by definition.
    It will no longer make economic sense to commit to the investment it takes to produce a 10 song album. (they used to be twelve)
    Now the smart money producers will take a project in for two or three cuts based on the one song they think is a hit. Just like in the old days. No need for an album because albums are not what is selling.
    I think this will produce better stuff to listen to. And more product too. This is good for artists and songwriters. There will be more diversity and opportunity.Because of technology advances recording is itself becoming almost trivial and affordable to the masses. Of course the greedy-scaly hand of the RIAA oligopoly must be released from the throat of our culture for all to truly benefit.

  • good point. musicians are businessmen, not artists.

    Those that are real artists put out quality stuff becuase they want to, so they make more money by default. Plus, consumers like to support these types of artists more.

    the problem is, we started accepting pop-culture garbage which was created for the only purpose of selling. How many popular bands do you hear on the radio that actually started in a garage, playing for proms and birthdays? Not too many.

    Most of the crap out there is reprocessed garbage, and they know it. I think that's why they don't people buying one song at a time.

    The shift from feeding the customers garbage to actually listening to what the customer wants and providing it is a huge step; one that they dont' want to take.
  • by Savatte (111615) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @10:05AM (#6267087) Homepage Journal
    Pink Floyd - The Wall, Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here

    Led Zeppelin - I, II, IV

    The Doors - The Doors, L.A. Woman

    The White Stripes - White Blood Cells, Elephant

    Beatles - Sgt. Peppers, Revolver, The White Album, Abbey Road

    Pearl Jam - Ten, VS

    Boston - Boston

    Vanilla Ice - Mind Blowin (yes, really!)

    Metallica - the black album
  • Or is it simply.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JackJudge (679488) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @10:06AM (#6267095) Journal
    ...the case that the labels will start to realise most artists can only put three or four decent tracks on an album and the rest is filler material ? I know I know, there's exceptions to this, but let's face it, 90% of the stuff churned out by today's manufactured bands is crap. I think it's more a case of the artists running scared that instead of signing a mega-bucks 3 album deal, which is gonna be mostly them treading water in the studio, it might set a precendent where they get paid purely by commission on how popular individual songs are. Hey who knows, the Top 40 might have relevance again!
  • Re:Typical...... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by manly_15 (447559) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @10:11AM (#6267123)
    Now, for Linkin Park, these guys have no room to bitch. They got noticed by UPLOADING SONGS IN DIGITAL FORMAT and posting on other bands' web forums asking their fans to try out their music. And now their bitching about the same-style format that got them where they are today. What a whiny bunch of prats.
    I'll admit it - I actually bought the special edition cd/dvd version of Linkin Park's latest CD, Meteora. If you watch the interviews, or just look at the design of the packaging, you will realize that LP tried (and IMHO succeded) to create a single work of art. Musically, the only way to properly listen to the CD is to listen to the whole thing at once. You just don't get as much out of their music if you listen to them as as singles. So give LP a break - if more artists thought this way about CD's then perhaps it would be worth the 20$ for the complete work.
  • Solution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SemperUbi (673908) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @10:14AM (#6267137)
    1. Make an album available for $0.99/track initially.
    2. Monitor sales of each track for a few weeks.

    After this initial period:

    3. 'Popular' tracks (over some threshold # of sales/week) would retain the 99 cent price.
    4. Less popular tracks could be downloaded at 25 cents each (or whatever) by any user purchasing one of the more popular tracks.
    5. Users choosing to download an entire album would get an additional discount, and free downloads of whatever cover art or text the artists wanted to make available.

    Some variant of this system would ensure that the whole-album format would survive. What won't survive are the ridiculously high profit margins.
  • by LordKronos (470910) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @10:19AM (#6267157) Homepage
    Name the last album you listened to that had a theme
    Coincidentally, 3 out of 5 CD's in my car right now are concept albums.
    Dream Theater - Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory
    Iron Maiden - Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
    Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime

    Out of over 300 CD's the only other concepts I think I have are Spock's Beard - Snow and Pink Floyd - The Wall. You could possibly also count Dream Theater - 6 Degrees of Inner Turbulence. Its a 2CD set with one of the CD's being a large concept song.

    I'm sure there are a few more that aren't really concepts but seem to have a general reoccurring theme. Rush - Vapor Trails seems to have a general theme about dealing with loss (Neil Peart's only daughter died in car accident, then his wife died of cancer less than 1 year later) and pulling yourself back up onto your feet. Dream Theater - Falling Into Infinity seems to have a recurring theme (though not in every song)about them being fed up with being controlled by the record companies.

    Then of course, I guess you could also say Kid Rock's CD's have a recurring them of talking about himself, and seeing if he can remember to say his own name in every song.
  • Re:fools (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MsGeek (162936) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @10:28AM (#6267217) Homepage Journal
    I posted something addressing both issues in the same article...here's the link [slashdot.org]. Basically the executive summary is that the album is not being killed by iTunes. The practice of putting one or two good songs on a CD's worth of filler has killed the concept of the album way deader than Steve Jobs could ever manage.
  • by xWeston (577162) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @10:39AM (#6267285)
    I can see why some music artists would feel this way. personally I dont know if i like an artist/album unless i listen to it all of the way through because I view albums as one piece of work with a bunch of seperate parts.

    People that only listen to the radio for their music might never even hear another song except for the single off of an album and I think that would be hard for me to do. I like listening to albums all the way through from Track 1 to Track End, not on shuffle or repeat.

    There are themes among other things that are woven into the songs, and the arrangement of them is picked for a reason (although for some bands it is probably just marketing).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2003 @11:02AM (#6267400)

    There is a simple formula that a concerned consumer can apply to remove the seat of power that this segment of the industry enjoys. It will require discipline and dedication on the part of the consumer, but it is guaranteed to work. I have provided the tactics and their intended targets (in italics).

    • The formula for independence:
    • Do not purchase new CDs, instead purchase used CDs. RIAA and Music Industry
    • Do not purchase new video entertainment (DVD, VHS, etc...), nor go to a movie show. MPAA, Movie Industry, Hollywood
    • Do not subscribe to cable television or satellite television. If you must watch TV there are still broadcasts you can receive via UHF or VHF. Some broadband providers (cable in this case) do not require that you have a cable television subscription. Hollywood, Cable Companies

    Perhaps some of you are thinking "how can I live without my [insert favorite TV program here]..." or other such broadcast. It isn't that difficult, I have cancelled my subscription to cable. I thought I was going to miss the shows, but in actuality I don't miss what I don't know I'm missing! In any case, I have provided some suggestions to help my fellow slashdotters to continue existing.

    • Substitutions for sanity:
    • Read a book. It amazes me how little our children spend reading and how much time they spend watching tv instead. Let us set a good example for our young ones. Besides, with books you can go back as often as you want, copy a page of text here or there [non-commerical use of course], and generally use more of your imagination.
    • Surf the net. Probably not as good a habit as reading a book, however, I certainly can learn a lot about anything from the web. More importantly Slashdot is here!
    • Become a HAM radio station operator. There are plenty of experiments to be done with HAM radio. Build different antennas, communicate through satellite, talk to astronauts, talk to your neigbhor or get long distance for free!
    • Cultivate a kitchen garden (if you can). It is amazing how much better your garden vegetables will taste compared to a store bought variety. You will learn something new I guarantee it. You can spend time with your children/grandchildren teaching them to be independent.
    • Take a night class that would occupy the time you spent watching TV. You can learn a new programming language, polish your techniques in one you already know, learn a new language, etc...

    I can think of many more as I'm sure you can. I encourage you to think of many more. The point isn't really about "sticking it to them", although that is a nice by-product, it is about reclaiming your industry independence. You can break the dependence on entertainment media that the industry has spent so much time, money, thought, and effort into cultivating within the consumer markets. Once you have achieved independence, you can no longer be threatened by the current tactics of the MPAA, RIAA, and other industry groups. It worked in 1776 didn't it?

  • Re:fools (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brianvan (42539) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @11:09AM (#6267427)
    No, it's not Britney Spears who needs to be afraid, it is indeed Radiohead.

    Britney is (well, more appropriately, WAS) a massive marketing/publicity generating celebrity, who makes money off of being famous. Britney's music has almost nothing to do with artistry as far as music goes... she's a performer and she makes money off of performing. Her songs were not composed by her with a pad and paper and guitar in her bedroom, they were written by a hot songwriter, produced by a hot producer, music performed by experienced studio musicians, and sung by a hot recording artist / celebrity image. It's all MARKETING. Music for the people. There is some traces of artistry there on individual levels, but generally the whole thing is for making money and it's music by committee. Don't forget, the record execs have their meeting where they decide whether the album is good enough to release and if not, they send you back to the studio.

    The point? For Britney, success is money and publicity. 99 cent singles contribute to this and don't detract from any secondary goals. Why would they sell singles for all these years if they hurt the companies and these kind of artists, their biggest money makers?

    Now, Radiohead, on the other hand...

    Radiohead is the type of band that makes an album, writes songs for the sake of writing music and expressing feelings. For a band like Radiohead, the album is a unit of expression. Radio airplay and singles don't really mean much... they're nice for promotion, but they don't mean as much on their own as does the whole album. Also, since Radiohead doesn't compose individual songs for the sake of promotion and celebrity, they won't make too much money going that route.

    It's not entirely black and white like that - yea, Radiohead might write a song that might be radio friendly, and Britney might write a song on her own about some terrible thing she felt that will never make it to radio... but the point is, Radiohead wants to sell their albums as units of works of art. They don't mind singles as long as the albums are for sale. And Britney doesn't care about albums, because if she didn't have to sing 9 "other" songs on a 12 song album, she'd rather not.

    Enter the possibility that the record companies may no longer wish to sell albums because 99 cent singles are making all the money. This is plausible for no other reason other than if 99 cent electronic singles are a huge hit, as we have been trying to get them to do that for SIX YEARS now, then they would obviously pour all their resources into that, albums be damned. Radiohead is then phased out and Britney is completely in. (or the next Britney, anyway)
  • Re:Typical...... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sql*kitten (1359) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @11:24AM (#6267537)
    Now, for Linkin Park, these guys have no room to bitch. They got noticed by UPLOADING SONGS IN DIGITAL FORMAT and posting on other bands' web forums asking their fans to try out their music. And now their bitching about the same-style format that got them where they are today. What a whiny bunch of prats.

    Nothing new under the sun, my friend. How do you think Metallica built a cult following back in the day? Through the bootleg scene... they positively encouraged fans to tape live shows and trade the tapes. Hell, I was there.

    Now Metallica are coasting along on past glories... from the Black Album onwards, everything they've done has been complete rubbish. James Hetfield tells the old-skool fans to fuck off, and Lars Ulrich, that petulant little runt, whines that bootleggers are stealing the bread from his mouth. That's what he does, he doesn't complain or rant, or even bitch, he just whines.

    On principle, I'm gonna download me some Metallica. I won't listen to it, but I'll just keep it there on my HD, so I can smirk whenever I read them and their whining every time this topic comes up. Figure I'll do my best to get copies to anyone who wants 'em, if anyone does.
  • by marmoset (3738) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @11:31AM (#6267566) Homepage Journal

    I discovered my love of music at a fairly young age. I don't know if my family was any more musical than any other typical family of non-musicians living in the Detroit area in the late 60s/early 70s, but many of my earliest memories are of songs we'd hear on the radio while on weekend trips, shopping excursions and camping outings. I have vague memories of being in love with songs like "Tears Of A Clown" and "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" and "Love Will Keep Us Together" and "Silly Love Songs", though at that early date (around 5-7 years old) I couldn't have told you who performed them or even have done much more than hum the chorus for you. I can remember the very first single I ever purchased, though. I liked a song by Joe Tex called I Gotcha [tinyurl.com], which research shows was a hit in 1972, which means I was about 5 years old, and that sounds about right. I can't remember whether Mom gave me money to buy it or whether she just asked me to pick out a 45 while we were at the store. In any even, I know for sure that it was the first non-"kids record" I ever owned myself. I have vague memories of playing my older sister's records, but nothing really specific from that early on.

    My first "real" album purchase didn't happen until years later: Parliament's Mothership Connection [popmatters.com]. Even after I bought my first albums, though, for years my musical purchases overwhelmingly came in the form of 45 RPM, 7-inch singles. American singles of the time were very distinctive looking. Unlike European singles, which replicated the small center holes of 12-inch albums, U.S. singles sported a large center hole. This meant that you usually needed some sort of adapter to play them on a standard turntable. The little plastic adapters were somewhat fragile and impractical, but they sure are a wonderfully iconic element of a bygone age, aren't they?

    The prevalence of singles among my early purchases was largely practical. I got a small allowance, which if I remember started out at 25 cents a week, then escalated through 50 cents a week, a dollar a week, and finally $5 a week by the time I entered middle school. When I first started buying singles regularly, they went for about 99 cents to $1.25 apiece. That got you a (usually edited) single mix and a b-side, some of which were purest filler and some of which were fascinating. It would probably seem alien to a music buyer younger than, oh 25 or so, but up until the mid 1980s or so record stores would stock hundreds or even thousands of 7-inch singles, with the top sellers proudly displayed on the walls. Singles were a huge part of the music business, and a lot of record stores devoted just as much space to singles as they did to albums.

    My music buying took off in earnest when I turned 12 and got my first paper route. I discovered many artists via 45s during this period, many of which I would come to love and by many many albums by in subsequent years. Some early 45's I bought were by Kraftwerk, XTC, the Police, the B-52s, Devo, Gary Numan, and Yellow Magic Orchestra. I mention this not to try to buld up any cred points, but to point out that the easy, cheap availability of music by these artists made it possible for me to try new things musically without a lot of risk. Albums were a formidable $5-$7 apiece, and $7 bought a lot of M&Ms and Hot Wheels. A kid with a paper route just didn't have a lot of dosh to blow on any full-length album that wasn't a sure thing. For a while, the record industry was fine with this. They'd made a mint on bands like the Beach Boys in the 1960s, who were practically hit single machines, releasing multimillion selling single after single, which would eventually get compiled onto albums almost as an afterthought. Of course, as bands like the Beatles (and eventually the Beach Boys themselves) gained more artistic control they began to deliver albums that stood as coherent statements, but for a long

  • by Enry (630) <`enry' `at' `wayga.net'> on Sunday June 22, 2003 @11:33AM (#6267572) Journal
    I don't buy a CD unless:

    1) The artist is a known quantity (Seal, Radiohead, Enigma, Faith No More, Paul Oakenfold)
    2) Heard two songs from said CD and liked it.

    If I want singles, I go grab the 'best of'. Too bad I don't listen to the radio much anymore, but it's pretty rare for a radio station to play more than two songs off a CD.
  • Re:Well???? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@ ... o.ca minus punct> on Sunday June 22, 2003 @11:35AM (#6267583)
    1) The copyright may be in the name of the author, but if you look at the contracts the publisher has exclusive rights to print and dictate how the book is printed. A writer can buy the plates and then do what they may. The writer has NO flexibility. I give you an example. I know a writer who used to write for WROX. WROX went belly up and his rights to his books went belly up as well. Result? Other companies scooped up the books and can print the titles without paying a DAMM cent to the writer? Why because bankruptcy law allows it.

    2) I was comparing apples with oranges. The 12 cents was calculated on the dollar. A writer does not typically calculate on the dollar, but on the amounts that the publishing house receives. Therefore subtracting from the article the amount that the seller and middle person receives you get about 20% to 30% royality rate for the artist.

    When I saw those stats the artist is not that badly off!
  • by pabtro (609586) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @12:07PM (#6267697)
    Yesterday I purchased the last CD from Radiohead. Besides the perceived musical involution, I noticed that I *could not* play the CD in my computer ("files needed to be modified first"). I now, this isn't new, but this is the first time for me. I think this is the last time I buy a music CD. Downloaded music is much better; it saves space, it it cheap, I get what I want and I can play the music everywhere.
  • Re:Work of Art (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fermion (181285) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @12:22PM (#6267763) Homepage Journal
    In my mind the art of the album is a smokescreen. I believe some artists work to make an album a wonderful listening experience from one beginning to end. They put in touches that can only be enjoyed at high fidelity. They interlace the songs and vary the emotion to create a moving experience. I will even stipulate that most of the listed artist work to do create such an effect.

    I also believe that a true artist creates works that can and should be enjoyed as a subset. One does not have to listen to the entire performance of Swan Lake to be moved by oft played love theme. One can enjoy a photograph of a Kandinsky painting, even though it is difficult to appreciate the colors and textures.

    Which is to say that the current protest is still about money. Look at the artists. They are all reasonable good. I own stuff from most of them. However, most of these artist are either at the end of their career, with no new blockbusters, or looking toward a time when they have no more block busters. How will they make money. Well, traditionally, they would put out over priced boxed sets, which the retail chains can sell, and do cross promotions for comeback tours and the like. The die hard fan will buy the boxed set just out of loyalty, and the casual fan might buy the boxed set because they never bought the original albums.

    But what happens now? All but the most die hard fan is not going to buy the boxed set because they already have created the box set themselves. The low level fan is totally lost because they have already downloaded the 12 songs they like for $12, and certainly are not going to spend $20 to just to get the 3 more songs they hate. This is bad for the artist and label. They did not sell the albums up front. They cannot sell the compilations now. It screws up the business model.

    The best example I have seen of this is on Apple with the song American Pie. Don McLean knows on which side his bread is buttered, and therefore does not sell this song alone. You can buy any other song on the album as single, but not this one. It makes good business sense to do this, but don't insult our intelligence by claiming artistic integrity.

  • Re:Work of Art (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jad LaFields (607990) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @12:34PM (#6267825)
    Quick comment: While what you say about singles is true for most artists, one specific example is Radiohead actually. They decided that their album Kid A should be only taken as a whole, and so AFAIK they did not release any singles and refused to allow radio stations to play only a single track off the album (despite being a very popular, high-selling band that I'm sure a number of radio stations would love to be able to play). So I'm willing to chalk their no-one-song downloads as less of whining hypocrasy and more of a extension on their established beliefs.
  • Not much to say, except that I basically agree with you...

    I write as well and finally I found a publisher I like....

    I was annoyed by the musicians whining constantly about this, that or the other thing. They should live the life of a writer sometime and see how it is! Poor mostly!

  • Re:fools (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ottothecow (600101) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @12:44PM (#6267879) Homepage
    even if you listen to crappy music, maybe the artist wrote a few good songs that you like but wouldnt get radio play, you would NEVER have heard them if you hadnt bought the cd because you would only grab up the radio singles

    I listen to music from good artists in my opinion (well...who doesnt) and I find the use of singles downloads is great to see if I like the album. Usually I will hear a few songs, maybe listen to something from another album if I am not familiar with teh group and then purchase the disk. I do this with p2p because its free, if I had access to the apple music store I would gladly pay 99cents a track to sample an album but ONLY IF I could subtract the 99cents (or maybe 2 songs worth) from the price of the cd. There is no reason to pay for the tracks twice which is why I use p2p

  • by mekkab (133181) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @12:51PM (#6267916) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry, I love radiohead as much as the next guy, but I remixed my own Kid A and Amnesiac album. I found KID A to be laden with fluff.

    Once you combine the best of one with the best of the other, you get the album that I would want to buy. If they can't understand that, then I can't be bothered spending money on "Hail to the theif"- due to "artistic difference between me and the band."
  • Re:fools (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Graff (532189) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @01:02PM (#6267962)
    I think the real problem here is if every Joe Downloader will find tracks 2,3,6, and 8 "good" on the album and disregard the rest. They'll have spent only $4 then for music and even at a greater per track revenue, they could be losing money on an album.

    True but this doesn't count the fact that even though you may lose sales on the album itself you probably would not have gotten those sales in the first place! Those people who are just buying a track or two were probably not going to buy the entire album but since the tracks are available as singles they bought them.

    Overall choice is a good thing. If you make good songs then people will probably buy all the tracks on an album. Those people who only want 1 or 2 tracks on an album probably would not have bought the entire album so you can count those sales as extra gravy on top of your usual album sales. Sure you will lose a few whole album sales to singles but I'm willing to bet that a decent artist will make more money than they will lose.
  • It's already dead. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kwil (53679) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @01:57PM (#6268209)
    The latest Blur CD, Think Tank is, like many techno CD's, seamless. All the songs are meant to flow into each other with no breaks.

    That is.. until you put the thing into your computer. Whereupon the Digital Restrictions Management loads it's little mickey mouse player (mickey mouse both for its power and the DRM associations) to play the CD for you.. ..except.. the damn player inserts 1 second pauses between tracks. Since the album is supposed to be seamless, these pauses are jarring to say the least.

    So what I want to know is, how come we don't hear about Madonna, Linkin Park, etc., bitching about how DRM players are "killing the art" of the album?
  • Re:Concept albums (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @02:38PM (#6268429) Journal
    Concept albums were killed off by the "shuffle tracks" function on a CD player. Some artists (Prince, perhaps) have responded by making one track albums.

    It would be nice if a intelligent shuffle routine could be devised-- so , for instance, the 5 parts of a violin concerto could be heard, as a unit-- without disrupting the listener's ability to hear just one movement, if he so chooses.

  • by neoevans (179332) <neoevans AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday June 22, 2003 @06:10PM (#6269675) Homepage
    ...I don't think I had to. It's pretty obvious these so-called "artists" are only interested in one thing, money.
    I've seen big-ticket artists' albums go for up to $35 in stores, for a measly 15-song CD and I think these rich-ass bastards like it that way. Someone must have told them that if only 5 of the songs on the release are any good, they stand to lose that $30 worth of "filler" tracks they recorded as an after-thought over a weekend to get the album released on time.
    I mean, Radiohead is one of my favorite bands, but they release 3 albums a year!

    Why?

    What happened anyways? 50 Years ago being a musician wasn't the height of society, and now they get more respect, privelage, and money than any other profession!

    I seriously think this whole digital music revolution is nothing more than the long overdue wake-up call for everyone in the music industry who thought this was going to last forever.
  • by OgGreeb (35588) <og@digimark.net> on Sunday June 22, 2003 @07:37PM (#6270127) Homepage
    The real question is: which albums would suffer if the tracks were played in reverse order, or in random order. The albums which can't survive this test should be sold as a unit, perhaps as a 50MB single track for $8...
  • Re:fools (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phong3d (61297) <jim.inomi@com> on Sunday June 22, 2003 @07:54PM (#6270201) Homepage
    Special CDs that will ONLY play in the order they specify? You MUST listen to tracks 1-14 in order or the CD won't play?

    That wouldn't be surprising at all. If you go rent (or own) David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive" aside from the always-welcome hot lesbian action, the DVD has no chapter stops, you can only play it straight through (or FF a lot). Lynch explained he did it that way so you'd be forced to experience the entire storyline the way he set it out in order to figure out the puzzle/nightmare.

    If DVD audio really takes off, I'd be willing to bet you'll see either new (or re-issued) "concept albums" that will only have one "track" and force the listener to sit through the whole thing.

  • Re:fools (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hankaholic (32239) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @08:02PM (#6270235)
    I disagree. I like Radiohead, and would probably not buy their singles -- even classic Pink Floyd albums, while rich with hit singles, are better appreciated as a musical whole, and I'd gladly shell out $10 to appreciate the work as a whole, and to own the physical media.

    Interestingly enough, have you ever thought about just why they're called "albums"?

    When the "recording industry" first started, individual songs were sold on 45's. People would buy books (similar to picture albums) in which they would store their records. Some enterprising blues artist came up with the idea of making songs which went together as a greater work, meant to fill such an album.

    The recording industry _has_ survived the trade of single songs.

    This is like reading a story saying that the recording industry doesn't want to return to a vinyl format (or cassette tape, or whatever), because they think it'll be bad for sales. The recording industry has not only survived the sale of single songs, it started that way, whether those in charge have any idea or not.

    The way I see this developing, is this: single-spitting "pop artists" will earn their $0.99 per track, because that's what they produce best.

    Those who can produce albums which really, REALLY make sense as albums will still sell what they produce best -- albums.
  • Re:fools (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Thing 1 (178996) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @08:32PM (#6270368) Journal
    Enter the possibility that the record companies may no longer wish to sell albums because 99 cent singles are making all the money.

    This also raises the possibility that artists can start generating money in a couple days (time it takes to conceive and record a single track) instead of a couple months (for a full album, much of which may be filler).

    I agree that it creates something of a competitive problem, but looking at the good points, it could be beneficial for artists and consumers alike: they can start generating income faster, and we can pick-and-choose the music that we want.

  • Easy solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unix0rn (638701) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @10:24PM (#6270756) Homepage
    Two ways these "artists" can solve the problems they face with single son downloads:
    1. Stop making 1 or 2 creative songs and then stuffing the rest of the album with filler noise.
    2. Try their hand at "rock operas": Each song on the album is part of a story and theme centric. Getting just one song wouldn't make alot of sense since it is just one part of the album.

    Of course, this will be effective in weeding out the real talent from the zero talent and that would send alot of "stars" back to flipping burgers...

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