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Ash to stick to singles.
Last Post 18 Jun 2007 01:27 AM by Binokular. 15 Replies.
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PeejayUser is Offline
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Peter Teehan

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14 Jun 2007 11:00 PM
    Its all here:
    Ash - The final album

    Irish rock band announce radical new music industry business model

    London, June 12th 2007 – International rock band Ash, have announced bold new plans to cease releasing future albums in the traditional way.

    On the eve of what will become their final album, ‘Twilight Of The Innocents’, the band have taken the decision to only release singles in the future.

    Known for consistently writing hit singles since the early 90’s (17 top 40 hits, an Ivor Novello award and five Top 10 albums), the band feel it is time to make a stand in the future digital arena by only releasing singles. Periodically, the band will release compilation cd’s featuring the aforementioned singles.

    Famously known for their pro-active stance on the internet (the band were the first to cultivate a huge loyal following using their online message board, were the first to use the internet via a fledgling nme.com, to get fans to vote for which tour towns they should play and had the first ever number one single in the download charts), the band feel it is now time to fully embrace the digital future of the music industry.

    Owning their own recording studio means that the band will be able to write, record and release their music almost instantly, their fans will then benefit from not having to wait the usual ‘years’ between albums.

    At a time when the music industry is in flux and with record sales at an all-time low, marketing music in the traditional sense is becoming increasingly less financially viable. The band hope that by harnessing the power of the internet and by being more creative in the way their singles are marketed, the record company can maximise sales, increase profits and enhance their already impressive 13 year career.

    Tim Wheeler from the band:

    “The way people listen to music has changed, with the advent of the download the emphasis has reverted to single tracks. It hasn't helped that most people have forgotten how to make a decent album. I'm constantly disappointed with records I buy.
    I believe our new album is the pinnacle of everything we've done thus far, and I'm proud that this will be remembered as our last album. The future lies elsewhere and we can have a lot of fun by changing things up. It's like the Wild West at the moment, a time to take chances and try out new ideas.

    When you're tied to the album format, you find yourself waiting six months between finishing a record and releasing it. By leaving this behind we can enter a new phase of spontaneity and creativity. We have our own studio in New York, we can record a track and release it the next day if we feel like it, give it to people while it's fresh. We're the first band to do this , but I very much doubt we'll be the last.

    We've been one of the best singles bands of the last two decades and we're still younger than a lot of bands on the current scene. I’m excited to push this claim further by dedicating ourselves wholly to the art of the single for the digital age.”


    http://www.ash-official.com/forums/showthread.php?s=8031ece3610ab17d3c4940e722e57dc1&t=1862



    Hmmm, I don't know if they're the mavericks they're claiming to be, there's millions of people on sites like MySpace doing the same thing, its just most of them don't have a record deal to factor in.

    He's sort of admitting defeat when he gripes that nobody makes great albums anymore. But he's right in a way. The format is changing, for better or worse. If musicians are giving up the album format because they feel it won't hold any value to people then I think that’s a sad thing.

    I always liked their singles, but I only ever bought one of their albums so I wouldn't really call myself a fan. Is anyone excited/disappointed or relieved by this? Will this set a precedent for popular music, or will Ash continue to slip under the radar? Will their next "album" be called Now Thats What I Call Ash?

    ...so many questions

    StrangegravyUser is Offline
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    Strangegravy

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    15 Jun 2007 12:52 AM
    Interesting to see how this pans out for them.. I'd really only buy an album if I'd heard and liked at least 3-4 songs on it anyhoo.. but in saying that the only Ash album I own is "1977".

    True that this has been happening on Myspace etc for the last while anyway, but most bands doing it would be gearing up to a proper album.. not an "Ash - The Internet Singles" stylie release.. no doubt a few industry heads will be keeping an eye on this though.


    Tim Wheeler - "We have our own studio in New York...” - B*st*rds!!

    Idiot KidUser is Offline
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    Steven O'Rourke

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    15 Jun 2007 02:43 AM
    It hasn't helped that most people have forgotten how to make a decent album. I'm constantly disappointed with records I buy.


    He's in a band, it's, therefore, in his power to make a great album, not just give up on the format. Perhaps if he stopped writing like a 15 year old he might get around to it.

    I'd never buy a single, I don't download them either so this is very worrying for me, I'd hate to see the demise of the album.
    UnaRocksUser is Offline
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    UnaRocks

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    15 Jun 2007 03:38 AM
    albums don't matter unless they're brilliant. Most aren't.

    Songs matter more than albums, but that's something that will probably never get into rock psyche.
    PeejayUser is Offline
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    Peter Teehan

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    15 Jun 2007 03:44 AM

    Songs matter more than albums, but that's something that will probably never get into rock psyche.




    It come and goes though, doesn't it? The UK punk era was very singles driven and the likes of ELO and The Eagles still managed to sell albums by the bin-load.

    If they manage to get this download chart count working properly and the focus shifts to singles again, it could be interesting to see what happens but there's still alot of artists who will continue with their 18-song opuses undeterred. I can't see Devendra Banhart bothering the top five anytime soon.
    UnaRocksUser is Offline
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    UnaRocks

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    15 Jun 2007 04:47 AM
    It's not to do with the 'chart' per se, but more about 'songs'. The chart stopped mattering a while ago, and holds little relevance to people. Downloading has changed indie and rock music, because people have more of a tendency to download lone songs, and not albums. This in turn, has led to the resurrection of the indie anthem, and a band being about 'a song' - in the same way that dance artists were always as such - , and also has led to the recreation of indie clubs as rock discos.

    Even though bands are obviously still releasing albums, their individual songs matter more than the entire piece of work as one unit.

    Ash seem to be just recognising the habits of their fans as consumers of music.
    aidanUser is Offline
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    Aidan Curran

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    15 Jun 2007 06:16 AM
    Posted By UnaRocks on 15 Jun 2007 5:38 AM

    Songs matter more than albums, but that's something that will probably never get into rock psyche.




    I have to agree with Una there.

    In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the best thing about download culture is that it's re-establishing the song as the unit of music, like it was before Sgt Pepper (which made the album fashionable as a coherent creative project and not just random songs lumped together). If tracks are sold individually (rather than in packs of 12) bands can't get away with filler anymore - it will up the ante.

    The album is dead; long live the song!

    Idiot KidUser is Offline
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    Steven O'Rourke

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    15 Jun 2007 06:27 AM
    In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the best thing about download culture is that it's re-establishing the song as the unit of music, like it was before Sgt Pepper (which made the album fashionable as a coherent creative project and not just random songs lumped together). If tracks are sold individually (rather than in packs of 12) bands can't get away with filler anymore - it will up the ante.

    The album is dead; long live the song!


    I can't disagree more. A great album with no fillers is something musicians should aspire to, cut the fillers and write/record a collection of great songs. Surely that is more of an acomplishment than writing a decent song every 2-3months?

    There are lots of great albums that will never be made if this is the route musicians choose to take. Surely that's our loss as music fans?

    The_Pen15User is Offline
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    The_Pen15

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    15 Jun 2007 06:27 AM
    Posted By aidan on 15 Jun 2007 8:16 AM



    I have to agree with Una there.

    In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the best thing about download culture is that it's re-establishing the song as the unit of music, like it was before Sgt Pepper (which made the album fashionable as a coherent creative project and not just random songs lumped together). If tracks are sold individually (rather than in packs of 12) bands can't get away with filler anymore - it will up the ante.

    The album is dead; long live the song!






    The album is dead; long live the song???

    Are you serious???
    aidanUser is Offline
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    Aidan Curran

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    15 Jun 2007 06:52 AM
    Posted By The_Pen15 on 15 Jun 2007 8:27 AM
    Posted By aidan on 15 Jun 2007 8:16 AM



    I have to agree with Una there.

    In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the best thing about download culture is that it's re-establishing the song as the unit of music, like it was before Sgt Pepper (which made the album fashionable as a coherent creative project and not just random songs lumped together). If tracks are sold individually (rather than in packs of 12) bands can't get away with filler anymore - it will up the ante.

    The album is dead; long live the song!






    The album is dead; long live the song???

    Are you serious???



    Yes. In future, is there a smiley I can use for being serious? Just so we all understand each other.
    PeejayUser is Offline
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    Peter Teehan

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    15 Jun 2007 07:19 AM
    If tracks are sold individually (rather than in packs of 12) bands can't get away with filler anymore -




    But a song you don't like doesn't necessarily mean it was album filler. If an artist is selling their songs individually, who's to say whether they'll make the songs you think are good available? An album gives the song more context and a below-par song might work alot better if its sequenced properly on the album.

    It depends alot on the artist aswell. Some get a creative drive from piecing an album together (ala Sgt Pepper) and some come up with maybe five great songs and pad an album around it.

    I wouldn't do without either of these types myself.
    UnaRocksUser is Offline
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    UnaRocks

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    15 Jun 2007 07:50 AM
    "An album gives the song more context"

    I think that's a weird thing to say. It's like saying a pool of vomit looks pretty in a pile of poo... or something.

    If the song is good, it's good. I think people who try to make 'great albums' (unless they are really good artists) generally lose out if they're not focussing on the strength of individual songs.

    I agree with Aidan when he says this: "In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the best thing about download culture is that it's re-establishing the song as the unit of music"
    PeejayUser is Offline
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    Peter Teehan

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    15 Jun 2007 08:20 AM
    Posted By UnaRocks on 15 Jun 2007 9:50 AM
    "An album gives the song more context"
    I think that's a weird thing to say. It's like saying a pool of vomit looks pretty in a pile of poo... or something.




    Now thats a weird thing to say. Your metaphors for music are poo and vomit??

    What I meant by that earlier post was, if an album's sequenced well it works as a complete piece better than greatest hits or best of's or compilations can. I hate to use the word 'journey', but as corny as it sounds, I like albums that takes me on a journey. One of the best examples of the past 10 years I can think of is The Hour of Bewilderbeast by Badly Drawn Boy. There's weaker songs, instrumentals and throaway ideas, but it all works, and each song works in the context of the album. Opening track The Shining is like waking up to your favourite song on the radio, Body Rap is a weird side-street he got lost in, Say It Again is the big closer and then final song Epitaph is like a sweet little reprise (it sounds like he's singing with his daughter or high-pitched wife).

    I wouldn't change a second of it and I think we'd be all the poorer if he cherry picked the cream of the crop from this album and sold those songs as individuals.

    But like I said, whats good for one artist may not suit another and I agree its clearly VERY hard to make an album which holds the listeners attention for 12+ songs. It's no reason to stop trying it though.

    dermot_trellisUser is Offline
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    dermot_trellis

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    15 Jun 2007 08:23 AM
    Personally, I'll always take the 40-50 minute experience of a good well-sequenced cohesive collection of music that leaves you feeling like you've undertaken some form of a 'journey' and really explored the mindset\approach of a particular musician (as hippy-dippy as that might sound) to the random shuffle singles parade sort of thing.. I think this single songs only download format thing might work well for a chart pop type band like Ash whose albums are basically singles-collections anyway, but for the sort of bands who write less immediately catchy and punchy music you really need to hear the songs in context for them to have their full impact.. There are several possible obstacles\downsides.. Firstly, how do you ensure that you make money? It's so easy to copy and rapidly distribute an MP3 file.. I know that CDs get ripped and distributed around the internet anyway but if MP3 is the only medium available it might increase the temptation for people to not bother paying. Secondly, there's the fact that you no longer have an actual physical artefact to represent your ownership\attachment to the music - I realise that this might sound like a trivial point but I think it's more significant than people think. When I was growing up and starting to get really into music the CDs\records themselves as physical objects were always an important part of the experience, and I think for a lot of 'serious' music fans they still are. Thirdly, with a steady trickle of indiviudal tracks people might tire of a band constantly being in the public eye, as in they might suffer the diminishing returns effect of people saying "oh, them again" when the seventh or eighth song in as many months is released.. The present 18-36 month cycle between albums at least gives the public time to 'recover' from the publicity blitz for a particular artist and not get totally jaded with them. Finally there's also the issue of the lower sound quality of MP3s - maybe not noticeable when you're listening to your iPod on the bus or wherever, but to the audiophile with a decent home stereo system there certainly is a difference between a 160kbps MP3 and CD or LP sound. I know this could be overcome with a move to a higher quality format but it might be an issue for bands who are thinking of going this route right now. All of this said, good luck to Ash, it's always interesting to see bands try new formats instead of going the tried and trusted route, I hope they can make it pay somehow..
    El DuderinoUser is Offline
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    El Duderino

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    17 Jun 2007 05:19 PM
    My preference would certainly be with the album format. In my experience I'm more likely to give an album that doesn't initially grab me a few listens rather than a solitary song. That doesn't really make sense because I'm potentially wasting alot more time from listening to an album, but that's just how it goes for me. Obviously this format favours chart pop acts over established "credible musicians" (for the want of a better word) so it would be a very successful tact for some bands to employ. Personally I like the incidentals that an album allows a musician to indulge themselves in.
    Monitarily speaking it would be interesting to see how plausible this is from the perspective of both the fan and the musician. Not all musicians have the luxury of a New York recording studio at their disposal and this intermittent recording could cause alot of logistical problems. From the fans point of view, they are paying for multiple singles as opposed to one album. This is inevitably going to be more expensive when all's said and done.
    BinokularUser is Offline
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    Binokular

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    18 Jun 2007 01:27 AM
    Releasing only singles and compilations of singles? Isn't that pretty much the way a lot of underground dance music artists have worked for years? The Album, relatively speaking, is a new concept for them!

    The death of the album has been greatly exaggerated, as is the idea that you "can't make money from MP3s because you can't stop people copying them" - All you have to do is take a look at the highly successful Emusic site. It offers a subscription based service and sells DRM free MP3s, if anything, copy protection has held back sales of digital music because it stops you enjoying it where and when you like, offering customers, less rather than more convenience and value for money than a CD. We've been able to copy CDs for ages, so artists and labels shouldn't be getting freaked out by the fact you can copy MP3s.

    Emusic offers complete albums for download, and I generally find myself downloading whole albums, the software makes it easy to get the entire album in a single click. iTunes also has made moves to encourage album downloads, such as reimbursing you for part of the cost of a single track you've downloaded when you decide to buy the rest of the ablum it came from, which offers better value purchased as a whole than individual tracks.
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