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Is the CD single dead?
Last Post 21 Jun 2004 02:19 PM by Binokular. 23 Replies.
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BinokularUser is Offline
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Binokular

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21 Jun 2004 02:19 PM
    The CD single is dead, well at least looking really unhealthy. Universal plan to ressurect the CD single using the 8mm format (those tiny CDs, that you come across occasionally)

    If these CD Singles were sensibly priced, no more than say, about 3 Euro (or less ideally), would you buy CD singles again? Can the CD single ever be resurrected even in the sort term or will the future for singles just be downloads.

    Its easy to say downloads are the future, but there has always been something nice about getting a physical disc from your local record store on a saturday. Anyway what do you think?

    The story in full:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/06/21/universal_pocket_cd/
    LuceraUser is Offline
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    21 Jun 2004 03:52 PM
    im not mad about the download thing, i too prefer to have a CD,LP whatever,... i dont think cd single sales will jump cos they're changing the shape of a bad value product, i think some good songs released would also help, these maroon 5's and stereophonics are about average compared to alot of their peers. but thats a different rant!
    Rev JulesUser is Offline
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    21 Jun 2004 03:55 PM
    I think the CD single is dead. The ringtone download industry is now worth $ 3 Billion to the music industry each year. Last Xmas on Sky, bob Geldof made the point that, in the case of his kids, they are much more interested in their phones than in stereos. My prediction, when mobile phones get sophisticated enough to play CD quality mpegs as ring tones, you will see kids donwloading the original recording of their favourite song as their ring tone instead of the tinkly approximation that is presently on offer. They should scrap the present singles chart. It bears no relation to listening habits. FYI, Amazon are now offering a selection of free downloads from some pretty interesting albums.
    BinokularUser is Offline
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    21 Jun 2004 06:51 PM
    Ah yes Jules, Ring Tones, good point. However I believe technology may have already very nearly overtaken you on the point about playing mpegs as ring tones. I believe sony already have a phone that can play back audio rather than a synthesised sound wich is sad really because phones were actually starting to take off as a music composition tool. I doubt the sonys can play back CD quality audio, but lets just say the development of such is much sooner than you think. Actually if you have a quick read of the link I posted, Universal have actually considered the Ringtones angle and are proposing that each of these CD singles will alos contain a code that will allow you to download a ringtone. The real question is whether kids will go for that or if they would prefer to get ringtones from elsewhere. Also the article makes another interesting point about ringtones: "Of course, since a ringtone is merely an alert, we can't see anyone actually using them as a way to experience music. 'Call me now, please - I want to listen to the new Kylie single.'" So you can see that ringtones in themselves are not a direct competitor to CD singles, however phones will provide competition as a way to consume music in other ways. MP3 players and PDAs (handheld PCs) are converging more and more, and the line betwwen them is blurring all the time. PDAs can play MP3s, MP3 players can play more than MP3s, some will even be able to play movies and store other files. Also as anyone who has even a passing interest in gadgets will have noticed, there is also a convergance of Mobile Phones and PDAs, just pop into your local phone store if you don't believe me, and ask the salesman about an XDA and he will almost pee himself with excitement at the prospect of another gullible sucker, er, I mean early adopter . You don't have to have a degree in computer science to figure out where this will all lead, we already have all singing, all dancing devices that are phones but also play mp3s and allow you to connect to the internet (and no I don't mean useless WAP either, I mean proper web access). Eventually they will become cheap enough for kids to afford. Download and listen to MP3s with your phone, you won't even need a PC. However its at this point I'd like to play devils advocate for the unloved CD single for a while and maybe add some fuel to this discussion the other way. Yes Amazon has had free and legal downloads for a while, but what happens when you want other stuff? Unless you resort to illegal filesharing, the ethics of which are a seperate topic, You're gonna have to pay for it! There are existing paid download services and Apple will be opening its iTunes service in Europe and downlads will cost something in the region of 99 cent to €1.50. At that price a CD single with perhaps three songs (if they will fit on the small format, I imagine they would) could actually work out better value per song than downloads, however that relies on all three tracks being killer tracks that you really want (making it almost an EP). Add to this the free ringtones and the pop romanticsim of watching top of the pops on friday (its still on friday right?) before heading down the shops to purchase the lastest release on saturday. Perhaps the time of the "Triple A side" single (if that makes sense) has come?
    Rev JulesUser is Offline
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    22 Jun 2004 06:43 AM
    quote:
    Originally posted by Binokular
    I believe sony already have a phone that can play back audio rather than a synthesised sound
    You see, I was right. Man, I should be working at Sony ! But seriously, we are in the middle of a revolution which began when AMS Neve Audiofile created the first to market digital audio work station in the 1980's (Test Movie: Top Gun). From that point on, audio has been progressively more digital. I don't agree on convergence. Technology divides. EG: TV - Cable TV - Digital Satellite TV - Digital Terrestrial TV - Pay TV. Technology branches out. What branch music will take is down to social habits + technology. Listening to music is now a mobile experience where once it was static. The radio weighed a ton, the gramaphone too. People sat around on a sunday night to hear the radio show live. Now they can download it when they want from the internet as a WMA file. When we talk of formats, we should also talk of time limits. The single arose because of the limitations of early disc pressing which only allowed an average of 3 mins recorded sound each side. With the development of vinyl, we got the LP album (40 mins overall) and the 12" single. Now, cd allows 60-70 mins music. Digital eps are a good idea but, lets face it, the modern band tends to only write three to four great songs per cd. Would this be the future of music ? Only if record companies became even more choosy about what they released. On the evidence of Jeff Buckley's posthumous release schedule, I doubt it.
    BinokularUser is Offline
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    22 Jun 2004 11:08 AM
    AMS Neve Audiophile? Thats a pretty specific bit of kit, can't say I've heard of it before. Your not into filmaking by any chance? I can actually agree with your statement about technology dividing while maintaining my idea about convergence. Yes, technology does tend to splinter off into different formats, but these are generally motivated by commercialism and proprietary systems. You have a divergence of proprietary formats/brands etc, but a convergance of actual functionality. Example of divergence in TV/Video: PAL vs. NTSC, Cable vs. Sattelite, Betamax Vs. VHS. But you also see convergance in functionality in the TV world: Combined TV/VCR, Multiregion DVD players, Sattelite receivers with built in recording, Games consoles that play DVDs etc. People always want more for their money, when manufacturers can't add new features, the simplest option is to add the functionality of another device. So while all the different vendors will have their own possibly proprietary solutions, these solutions will have multiple functionality. The proof is in the fact that these devices already exist. The PC itself is a good example of this, we take it for granted that PCs can play DVDs, CDs, Digital music, audio, 3D games, have built in Modems etc, but in the 80s such things were unheard of. An IBM PC was a work tool for the office, if you wanted to play games you bought a ZX spectrum/Commodore 64/Nintendo. If you wanted to watch movies you bought a VCR and if you wanted to listen to music, then thats what your hi-fi was for. Time limits are an interesting point. Is the idea of the 3 minute pop song just because of a technical limitation? I don't think so. OK pop songs are probably closet to the 4 and half minute length these days, but most people will lose interest if it goes on for much longer. Even with unlimited space, people tend to find that a certain length of time sometimes works best. I notice that most DJ mix sets that I download as single MP3s from various sites tend to be around the 30 minute mark, partly to keep the download size down, but also if you are listening to a mix set outside of a club envoironment it tends to become tedious if its stretched out much longer. I suppose we are arriving back at a situation where we are going back to way the music was made before recording came along. Now that we are freed from recording limitations, people no longer have to write music with these limitations in mind. Is this neccesarily a good thing?
    KarlitoUser is Offline
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    22 Jun 2004 11:11 AM
    I think certain CD Singles are good if you can't get that tune on an album or has some really good B-sides, but for the most part they don't have quality tunes and will no doubt be released along with other b-sides as an album in between the artists "album proper". While some bands will have quality singles for the most part the are just plain s**te! The short and tall of it is really, if a band is gonna release a single on CD format it should really be at least 3/4 quality songs, if something like this doesn't come about it will probably only end up with downloads, which then means that you lose the whole cover thing aswell and it's just a song. Don't know about you's, but when I buy a CD, wheather it be a single or a album, I like the whole package artwork and everything.
    El DuderinoUser is Offline
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    22 Jun 2004 11:24 AM
    "Universal plan to ressurect the CD single using the 8mm format (those tiny CDs, that you come across occasionally)" These smaller CDs actually cost more than regular CDs don't they? They did when I was looking at them. I have to say that I was never much of a singles man. This has lead me to buy alot of sh*te I didn't really want, but it's also introduced some great stuff that otherwise I wouldn't have found. I don't think most credible bands would suffer much from the single dying. In a way maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing if the single did die, but it won't. How else are 2FM and their various competitors gonna find the songs to fill all those hours of uninspired radio time. F**k me!! they might have to get up off their arse and use their imagination. Nah, that won't happen either
    Rev JulesUser is Offline
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    22 Jun 2004 12:53 PM
    quote:
    Originally posted by Binokular
    You have a divergence of proprietary formats/brands etc, but a convergance of actual functionality. The PC itself is a good example of this...Time limits are an interesting point. Is the idea of the 3 minute pop song just because of a technical limitation? I don't think so. OK pop songs are probably closet to the 4 and half minute length these days...Now that we are freed from recording limitations, people no longer have to write music with these limitations in mind. Is this neccesarily a good thing?
    I also mentioned the concept of mobility, from which springs the Laptop, PDA, XDA. This is due to social habits or the rise of 'music on the move'. I don't think that the PC is a good example of convergence. A PC essentially handles / manipulates information / files through digital code. These new add ons such as music and film just extend the number of file types it can handle eg: wma, Wav, Mpeg. A real example of convergence is the sportscar / speedboat that Branson has just crossed the channel in. Lets see how that does although I suspect that true convergence is limited to the gadgets in Bond movies. I ain't clear whether you agree or disgaree with the concept of time limitation through technology. You appear to both agree and disagree with it (see above quote) in your Sophoclean way. The concept of the single song release has probably been dying since the rise of the album circa 1970s - Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Although many pop songs are now at the 4:30 mark, the classic length (and the one favoured by DJs on radio) is still 3:00. What began as a time limitation became accepted practice with the result that radio has not moved beyond 3:00 as the acceptable time limit for a song. The esential point I was trying to make was that the biggest market for singles sales is teenagers (as our esteemed member QsySue and her love of REO Speedwagon - Age 10 attests to). Right now, I think they are a lot more hung up on buying ringtones and emailing each other images of their 'conquests'. In regards to AMS Audiofile, The Stunning edited their 'greatest hits' album using one so, yes, it also used in audio production but it was originally devised for film audio soundtracks. As to my roots, I wish to remain an International Man of Mystery. Yours elusively Jules
    QsySueUser is Offline
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    22 Jun 2004 02:08 PM
    I think the last single I bought was "Take it on the Run" by REO Speedwagon in 1980. (Vinyl) I was 10.
    BinokularUser is Offline
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    23 Jun 2004 08:14 AM
    El Duderino, your absolutely right, the smaller CDs are more expensive, but I imagine that this has more to do with economies of scale rather than anything to do with the manufacturing process itself. If Universal were knocking tons of them out it would probably be cheap enough for them. As to what 2FM would do without singles, well they'd probably end up with something like the situation in the US, where the charts are based on airplay rather than sales, which leads to really bland charts. In fact thats the problem with even our sales based charts. Because not many people buy singles anymore, you don't need to sell that many singles to get to number one anymore. Anything that gets enough airplay has quite a good chance of getting a high chart position (there is the whole rubbish representative sample system too, but thats a topic we discussed before). Getting a number one is no longer as much of an achievement. I think part of the reason the charts are crap now, is because the single is dying. Yes I know even in the so-called golden age of pop, the 60s, the charts were filled with their fair share of rubbish too, but I also reckon it was less predictable. Jules, back to the whole convergence thing. With petrolhead anorak firmly on, I can tell you that that the speedboat/car thing is a Gibbs Aquada. Actually its a car/hydrofoil, but lets not split hairs. Yes its a good example of convergance but making a car amphibious is pretty straightforward, theres been lots since the 60s such as the Triumph Herald based Amphicar and the DUKW landing craft, a yellow civilian version of which can be seen doing tours of Dublin and the liffey. By contrast getting the IBM PC to the all singing, all dancing entertainment centre we have today actually took a lot of complex engineering and not just the ability to handle different file types, though that in itself is quite complex. It actually required a lot of hardware technology such as DVD/CD-ROM, Sound cards (as opposed to a synthesizer), internal hard drives, dedicated 3D graphics hardware (formely the preserve of arcade videogames) along with massive changes in motherboard and processor archtecture. So what you end up with is a convergance of functionality. A PC can now do things, that before you needed seperate devices to do. Its just that most people don't see it that way because it has been a gradual evolution rather than something as dramatic as someone knocking out a speedboat/car in their workshop and crossing the channel. One good example of convergance with the PC is the Digital Audio Workstation, years ago, this meant a specific bit of kit. Walk into a specialist music store like PieDog in London and ask to see a Digital Audio Workstation and you may find yourself beeing shown something that is little more than a silenced Windows PC which has some specialised hardware such as a top-notch sound card and a midi controller. As for song length being limited by hardware, your right, I neither agree nor disagree. I haven't really a got a strong opinion either way, but I'm really interested to hear what other people think about this.
    eyeballkidUser is Offline
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    23 Jun 2004 09:13 AM
    In a way I think the single (CD or otherwise) has been killed by the industry itself. Every single release will turn up on an album so why bother buying it if you're going to buy the album anyways. The album is usually released a couple of weeks after the first single release to converge the marketing strategy and keep the artist's profile high, no it's not even as if you have to wait long to get your hands on the song. So the single is reduced to the role of trailer for the money-spinning album. It'd be great if bands started releasing singles for the sake of it and not to promote their latest album. The last act I can remember doing so was Suede with 'Stay Together', but imagine a time when 'Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane' AA side was just that. Or all those great Motown artists for whom an album was three great singles and fillers. I heard a rumour recently that Radiohead were considering only releasing EPs in future. I reckon this could be a good thing for music. Wouldn't it be great if The Beta Band has followed up those superb three EPs with more excellent EPs instead of albums of varying quality?
    DromedUser is Offline
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    23 Jun 2004 09:37 AM
    I still buy singles on vinyl, especially of bands I don't know much about but have been hearing things - it's financially painless, and means if I like it I'll probably buy their album (s), also you get the bonus of otherwise unreleased tracks, I hate double A sides for that reason. I'd always buy a vinyl single before a CD single if I can, I just prefer them. They have the right idea in the UK where I've bought vinyl singles in the past for £1. Managed to get Pulp's 'Lipgloss' on bright red Vinyl for £1.50 the last time I was there.
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    23 Jun 2004 12:26 PM
    Interestingly, in a BBC article on the same topic of singles and this new mini cd, the BBC reports that Universal is to phase out the sale of Copy Protected cd's in Germany following concerns that not all would play in some stereo systems
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    23 Jun 2004 03:15 PM
    quote:
    Originally posted by klootfan
    Universal is to phase out the sale of Copy Protected cd's in Germany...
    Very interesting especially since the concept of Copy Protect was recently enshrined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (USA).
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    23 Jun 2004 03:24 PM
    quote:
    Originally posted by Binokular
    Jules, back to the whole convergence thing. With petrolhead anorak firmly on, I can tell you that that the speedboat/car thing is a Gibbs Aquada....A PC can now do things, that before you needed seperate devices to do. Its just that most people don't see it that way because it has been a gradual evolution rather than something as dramatic as someone knocking out a speedboat/car in their workshop and crossing the channel.
    Ya mo, anorak be in effect y'all. Ok, so, is 'Pimp My Ride' convergence as entertainment then Binokular ? If so, should the show be called, 'Converge My Ride' or 'Pimp My Convergence' or 'Converge My Pimp'. Another question ? Is a duck an example of convergence in nature ? Are singer/songwriters examples of convergence in music ? Are they, in effect, the ducks of the music business ? Screw the death of the single, this is a much more fascinating concept
    BinokularUser is Offline
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    24 Jun 2004 07:13 AM
    Dromed, Vinyl singles are dead cool, which is why there is always going to be a market for them, no matter how small. As long as there are collectors, DJs and indie labels, I reckon vinyl stands a good chance. Still haven't sorted myself out with turnatable yet though . If CD singles were as cheap as UK vinyl, would you buy them? I agree about the how you can sometimes get tracks on a single and especially with Eyeballkid about how its a shame that singles are no longer proper releases in themselves. Sometimes if a band does a great B-Side on a single that often impresses me more than the title track, because I think "If their throwaway B-sides are this good, the rest of their stuff must be worth checking out", of course that idea doesn't always stand up in reality. I heard about Radioheads idea of doing only EPs, it sounds good. Apparently Radiohead reckoned that most people don't have time to listen to an entire album, and wanted to put out something that people could listen to in one go, such as on a car or bus journey. I really have to hand it to Radiohead, they really are thinking about their audience and how people listen to music rather than expecting people to have to change their habits to suit the band. Its contrary to how Radiohead are often portrayed, I think it shows a genuine lack of pretension. Jules, Pimp my Ride? Never heard of it mate. Is this some kind of TV show for the max power brigade? I doubt it would be my kind of show, unless they're talking about torque curves, cam profiles, oversteer or LSDs (limited slip differentials, what did you think I meant?). Ducks a convergance in nature? Depends if you believe Origin of the Species or Genesis Chapter one and no I'm not getting into THAT debate! Singer/songwiters a convergence in music? I dunno mate, do they do both successfully? Are they the Ducks of the music world? Well, some of them remind me of those hockey playing kids in that disney film with Emilio Estevez......
    El DuderinoUser is Offline
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    24 Jun 2004 07:34 AM
    Only releasing EP does sound like an excellent idea. It's the perfect way to trim down on the crap that makes up some albums. However, if you only release EPs you gotta keep on releasing them at a respectable pace which could lead to a hell of alot more time in the studio and consequently less gigs. New releases would have to come out at least once a year in this format. This would be good for the record buying public but I can see why it wouldn't necessarily appeal to all musicians.
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    24 Jun 2004 08:18 AM
    50 Ft Wave ( kristin Herse's new project) recently released a 5 track e.p. and they now plan to release on every 6 months or so. There isnt a bad track on it, which is great. But the downside is that you are left wanting for more. You end up listening to the same 5 tracks over and over and eventually you will lose some interest in them.
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    24 Jun 2004 08:38 AM
    quote:
    Originally posted by Binokular
    Jules, Pimp my Ride? Never heard of it mate. Is this some kind of TV show for the max power brigade?
    Oh man, proof that you don't watch MTV. Yep, its a show where the rapper Xzibit and his mates in West Coast Custom take a f*cked up car and f*ck it up even more. Great show by the way.
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