iTunes Killed the Radio Star

Well, Pink Floyd won against EMI (their record company) on digital downloads. Check out the article on New Music Express (

What is an ‘album’ now? Is it a social media ‘mash-up’ of sorts, where listeners get to choose what they like on first listen? It is the case of the listener’s money purchasing the music versus the ‘artistic integrity’ the recording artist. Should all music be available as ‘singles’ as the music industry’s saleable business model or should listeners be forced to purchase entire albums?

What is an ‘album’ these days, anyway? How should music be ‘sold’  or made available to the consumer?

Do I want to purchase a recording artist’s album every time I visit iTunes? No. I like to be seduced by music.  Start small. Let me like you.

My “record” collection is littered with 78s, 45s, 33s (old fashioned vinyl),  8 track tapes, cassettes, CDs, and MP3/MP4s. Some of the soundtrack of my life should be put in to some sort of ‘delete’ pile. The computer is excellent for getting rid of stuff. Hit the delete key and the trash gets bigger.

I know perfectly well that I will never, ever, ever listen to stuff I listened to 10 or 15 years ago. The albums sounded good at the time, but now I cringe at the thought of looking at them, much less actually *listening* to them. What do I do? I’ve seen 33s turned into handbags and wonder if I can do something to CDs I can no longer stand. Spikes, anyone? I can’t think of many people who would buy part of my life at a garage sale. Would scissors cutting the CD metal be an appropriate send-off?

I’m a digital immigrant. I bought 45s, I bought albums, I had to deal with the expense of repurchasing albums on CDs as ‘vinyl’  was discontinued and there was no way to transfer the vinyl to digital. And then repurchasing tracks on CDs that were re-mastered but were more or less unavailable, except on iTunes or other music outlets.

I  like the idea of the ‘album’. I can count quite a number of albums I’ve bought over the years. For one song. Ninety-five percent filler. Disposable music. I love ripping open the CD package (I do miss the big old album), to look at the cover, the liner notes, to listen to the music. To see what the artist’s plan was. Now I get what I can pick and choose. I get some gems, I get some stuff I can listen to on ‘shuffle’.

Does iTunes (or Spotify) or the next big music format really represent the state of the music industry? North America has yet to produce a good stadium band. The industry is myopic, many artists sound identical.

Susan Boyle’s 2009 album let people embrace buying an entire package again. A dream-come-true seemingly ‘saved’ a music industry that was on the verge of collapse. Much of what’s on the charts, so to speak, is that of ‘American Idol’ or world-wide equivalents. I admit to not watching ‘American Idol’. Too manufactured, too much of not what music is about. Or what I don’t like to listen to.

Where is the risk?  Too safe, too pre-packaged, too commercial. No, this isn’t what I want to listen to. Do I have any choice? Do I want to cherry-pick material? Well, if I’m paying for it, maybe.

iTunes and its equivalent may make recording artists take notice that their audience isn’t going to pay for unlistenable music and improve the album content. As every song can potentially be a single, things need to change. If the album is a pre-digital album, have it for ‘sale’ as such. If you wish to have ‘singles’ in order to have people listen to the music and check it out, great.

Everyone wins, then. Or else, it’s a radio wasteland.


~ by hooklineandthinker on March 16, 2010.

One Response to “iTunes Killed the Radio Star”

  1. Taking a “hole” new direction
    Wow, glad your back. Not sure where you’ve been, but yeah, glad your back. Interesting thoughts. Storing pieces of your life in music. Great image. Put it that way, we are the next big music format. Thinking of that, I was whistling the other day, and some stranger said she liked it. Maybe we are the next music format – most would think I’m taking chips in your head or some yet to be invented technology but I’m not. I’m thinking of whistling. “Why don’t people whistle any more?

    After all, whistling is not like walking around humming. And why is that? Humming is really whistling inside; isn’t it? Like playing air guitar. Humming is done by people who wish they could whistle but don’t want to put in the energy to learn.

    Maybe if technology is an extension of us, are you saying music is an extension of our body. Love songs from the heart; jazz is from your hips (given its origins in the brothels of the world); Blues and country have the same origin, the hands and feet of people on the land. Whistling though, it extends your ego. Whistling says hey baby, you have a great presence, but it also attracts the world to notice the whistler. And it is so much part of our culture. I’m not whistling Dixie.

    You know how to whistle don’t you? Just put your lips together and blow. Nice Blog. Did you hear the whistle?

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