We used to be so excited to race out to the nearest music store each weekend to find out what CD singles had been released. We’d look at the amazing cover arts, peruse the tracklistings and, with a number of discs in our hands, we’d wander over to the counter to complete the purchase.
The humble CD single has been around for a smidge over 20 years, but these days, sales of the once popular music medium are in rapid decline. But what’s driving this downturn in sales? And who’s really killing off the CD single – fans…? Or the record companies themselves?
Is it the ‘digital’ music revolution?
As soon as a track is taken to radio these days, it’s available to download pretty much straight away – and if not available by legal means, consumers will obtain it illegally. It could then be up to a two month wait before a CD single is released into stores. Dannii Minogue suffered at the hands of her UK record company who took ‘Touch Me Like That’ to radio more than two months before it’s retail release, by which time everyone had it digitally and they were already tiring of it.
Is it the delay in release of the music in Australia?
With the advent of the internet, fans are now more switched on to what’s happening with their favourite artists than ever before – information is available instantly. We in Australia usually have to wait months to get CD singles released here – and sometimes they’re not released at all. For example, the Freemasons’ single ‘Uninvited’ was released in the UK on October 22 last year, locally it was out on May 26 this year (a seven month gap). Companies like Amazon, Tower and HMV ship worldwide – and relatively cheaply.
Is it that record companies are no longer giving the fans what they want?
Savvy artists these days know that their fans want everything – and will go to the ends of the earth to get it, so they’ll release different formats in different countries with differing tracklistings and artwork.
The Pet Shop Boys have been cleverly doing this for years, but it’s only recently that other artists have been cottoning on to the fact that there’s money to be made from the fans.
Take Madonna, for example; These days, she releases one CD single in Australia, a two-part CD single set in the UK and a maxi (remix) single in the United States. Kylie released her single ‘Wow’ with different artwork in Australia, the UK and even in Germany.
Is it the cost?
Depending on where you shop, CD singles can range from $3 (Dick Smith Power House) to $5.99 (Sanity). Most of the time these days, record companies are limiting the CD single release to two tracks. And when one track on digital sites like iTunes will cost you $1.69 (and you can buy it without leaving the house), $5.99 isn’t a desirable price-point for just two songs.
We believe these are just some of the factors that are killing off the humble CD single. We believe there’s still a market for CD singles, but that record companies need to start realising that we now live in a global marketplace. They need to start thinking smarter, putting out releases with Australian exclusive content, exclusive artwork etc. Because at the end of the day, we consumers are not stupid. Record companies have got to make it worth our while to go into the shop and buy something that’s not available at our fingertips here on the keyboard.
So now it’s over to you… We want to know what YOU think. Do you still buy CD singles? If not, why not? What would you like to see on CD singles released in Australia? What would you like to see happen to the CD singles market in Australia? We’d love to know your thoughts.
You can comment simply by hitting the ‘comments’ button at the bottom of this post. You can also have your say over in the right column with our new ‘poll’ (which we’ll leave open ’til the end of August). Vote once, vote twice if you must.