I remember reading an article in Blender recently (as in, within the last 4 months) about great blunders in the music industry. One of which is the slow death of the single.
I understand it began with the rise of CDs. Since it cost the same to print a full CD album as a CD single (more in fact, if the smaller 80mm CD were used... which makes no sense because smaller is typically cheaper), record companies decided to phase the single out. Why spend the same money to make a product that will not have as much return as you do a product with a greater return?
For those of you not familiar with the idea of the single, let me refresh you. A single is a short recording featuring something between one to four songs, at least one of which was drawn from an album released around the same time. The expression "b-side" comes from the vinyl single, in that the album track would be side A and side B would be extras that are often not on the album. The idea being that people could pick up the new top hit songs and try out a band they may have not heard before. It was a great way to get an introduction to a band's music without having to pay for a full album, and thus risk wasting money on something you may not like. It also allowed consumers to pack around their favorite hot new tracks without having to wait for them to come on the radio.
So, record companies decided to slowly phase this shorter format out. Personally, I never bought many singles, but I like the idea. It offers a primer to a band's work, as well as a collector's item since singles are usually limited print runs.
Unfortunately, we are now in the digital age. So many people these days never set foot in a music store to begin with. Instead, they cruise to the iTunes online store, SNOCAP stores, peer-to-peer networks, etc. Fill up those iPods, kiddies! Why buy two or three songs on a disc when you can bootleg the whole album for nothing?
Thankfully, some artists and labels still release singles. It's a lost art, but usually found where independents roam. With the growing interest in vinyl among the younger crowds in the past few years, we may see a resurgence in vinyl singles in the coming years. Of course, since the mainstream music industry (see: The Big Four) are a pack of phenomenal morons, that particular train will most likely blow right past them.
>I'd be that prick of a recording artist to only release music on vinyl. I'll let you know if I ever make it big.
>No actual content here either; so sue me.