Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Won't buy back the beat of a heart grown cold

I knew this would happen eventually. Just not when.

I bought tunes off of Amazon MP3 Downloads. It could've been iTunes, except work blocks iTunes.

I've been a partisan on the mobile music side of MP3s vs CDs vs LPs debate, and (don't tell anyone) have downloaded an awful lot of music, but this was the first time I paid for anything.

"Down By The River", Roy Buchanan
"Five String Blues", Roy Buchanan
"The Messiah Will Come Again", Roy Buchanan
"Green Onions", Roy Buchanan and Steve Cropper
"Hot Rod Lincoln", Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen
"Sugarfoot Rag", Hank Garland

Yes, I finally got some Roy.

A big problem I've had with the music business for over 20 years is the death of the single format. When Born in the USA came out, I bought the cassette. I also bought every single, because they all had great non-album b-sides. There's a book called the Top 100 Rock'n'Roll Singles, but the last 2 in the book, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana and "Rockin' in the Free World", had asterisks because they never were released as a single.

We have albums. No, we have CDs. Albums, LPs, were limited to 15 minutes per side. At about 20 minutes and 5 seconds, you can fit 5 songs per side. Or, if you're the Byrds, the last 15 minutes of an extended jam on "Eight Miles High". A CD today can easily contain over an hour of music, which means you can, in one sitting, take in the whole "My Favorite Things" from Coltrane's Live In Japan.

That is, if you can sit through the whole thing.

So, people make recordings and first think they get to, and eventually, have to, fill the 700MB of space on a CD with music. The good thing of a singles market is that the mark is 2 minutes 50. If you can create something interesting in that time, you have a song. You get a heck of a lot of one-hit wonders, but that's OK. That's good. It works for diversity. And diversity, lots of different sounds put head to head to head, is good.

MTV was a good singles substitute, back when it played videos, but that's gone. What I see in MySpace is good, but there's no unification, no central marketplace that I know of, where the next One-Ders can take the Thing That They Do to minor stardom. Maybe Youtube. And anyway, MP3 sales bring it down to just one song again, which is good.


Pribek said...

Yeah, I like the idea of singles. I like the idea of going in the studio, cutting a song and releasing it.
The big players in the MP3 game aren't indie friendly yet or, indie releasing digital only singles friendly yet.
And, micro-purchase handling fees amount to a 33% royalty if you release on your own.
Those are the issues that need to be cleared up to open the floodgate of diversity.
I used to have a Hank Garland album called "Jazz Winds From A New Direction". Hank was a very innovative be-bop player too, very cool lines.

Dave Jacoby said...

I've been telling everyone I know. They've made a Hank Garland movie. "They" being Favored Nations, Vai's label. Vai plays Hank Williams. With Tony MacAlpine playing Wes Montgomery. It's called Crazy.

I have no idea if it's any good. Crossroads isn't too good, but I watch it every chance I get anyway. I have no idea when it'll get wide release. I do know that nearly everyone else in the theater when I do see it, and I say "when", not "if", will have picks in their wallet, too.

I need that recording.

Dave Jacoby said...

There's lots of places where the rise of digital singles could work, like YouTube or MySpace, as long as you're not too wedded to the idea of being paid for your work.

Pribek said...

I had no idea about the Hank Garland film. I would go see it with pick in pocket. There's a hell of a story there.
I knew a chord melody guy out in California who was, not a jazz snob but, there was no other music for this guy. Anyway, he's the one that gave me "Jazz Winds" and, he put Garland up there with all those guys, Wes, Joe Pass, Tal Farlow etc...
MySpace YT-there's some fuzzy math going on there and I could write a ton about this but, it would be way off topic. So, I'll just say there's got to be a better way.

MooPig_Wisdom said...

HI Dave and Jack:
I never looked at singles in this way. It is gratifying to pick up a new perspective on an old purchase conundrum: single or album?

Oh yeah, reading above made me think of a movie side-plot, where three escaped convicts and a "Negro guitar player" cut a "one-der" record while on the run... that in the end wins them all a Governor pardon.