Today’s Times explores an interesting change in the record industry brought on by the digital revolution: the resurgence of the single. Long overdue, I say. Even those as youthful (ahem!) as myself will remember buying 7″ singles well into the 80s; it was a cheap, fun and easy way to grab your favorite new Eurythmics song. But with the advent of the CD, the whole point of a single seemed to go away — there’s 70 minutes of room on the dagburn things no matter what you do, so why not fill it full of fluff, call it an album, and charge $12 for it?
This is, of course, not to predict the demise of the album (like one of the music consultants the Times quotes), nor whitewash the digital world. 128-kbps mp3 files, for instance, have always seemed to me like medium-quality “trial copies,” requiring any serious audiophile to pick up the CD or vinyl after buying something on iTunes. But, again, the ability to do this at all should be welcomed by the industry (faced with ever-shrinking venues to promote its product) and by artists, since both edgy and mainstream bands could benefit from a more flexible approach from labels. Whether we’ll see more singles released without accompanying albums remains to be seen, but in the meantime, wish Apple luck at keeping the price at 99 cents.