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Is it a singles business?

This has been flying around for the past couple of days: the Smashing Pumpkins aren’t going to make any more albums. Corgan saying “There is no point. People don’t even listen to it all. They put it on their iPod, they drag over the two singles and skip over the rest.”

There are some case studies to support this attitude and there are some that don’t. First, let’s talk about the ones that don’t. I’ve been listening to TV On the Radios “Dear Science” non fucking stop and I’m not the only one. This is one hell of an album. It flows beautifully. It’s full of soul, electro pop, great guitars, new wave meets the digital age and you can even dance to it. If the Pumpkins last album was even in the same ballpark as “Dear Science” I think Corgan wouldn’t be spouting off trying to place blame,on off all things, iTunes. Why is he blaming iTunes? The a la carte model is such a short sighted and obvious mechanism to place the blame on. So what if it’s new school and flies in the face of the classic album model? The fact is that while today’s audience does have a shorter attention span there are still some music fans out there that will listen to your whole creative statement if it’s good enough. Yes, it is true you will sell exponentially more singles than complete albums, but so what? The Smashing Pumpkins built a pretty substantial legacy with the likes of Gish, Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie. Those are some of the great albums of that generation. Giving up now and blaming the audience (and Apple) for doing so is sad.

Robert Plant and Allison Krauss, Ryan Adams, Fleet Foxes are doing it…hey even Axl Rose gave it his best shot. I hope Billy Corgan reconsiders.

To be fair and to look at the pure economics of it – yes, it is a singles business. The emphasis being put on “business.” Coldplay gave away “Violet Hill” to the tune of over a million free downloads yet they sold over 100,000 copies of the single on iTunes. Amazing. An artist can learn more about their audience and how they spend time online by giving away a free track using Top Spin than they can anywhere else. Small little digestible bits of art is where audience mentality as a whole lies, but that does not mean that a great album goes unrecognized.

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