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'Singles' vs. 'Albums'

June 4, 2006

'Singles' vs. 'Albums'

By Richard Kuper

The Op Ed Page

I've now read in a few different places folks complaining about the music companies wanting to "bundle" downloadable songs into collections so they can be purchased as "albums" as if this was a new concept or that somehow the concept of a "single" would disappear if this occurred. This seems a bit odd to me.

Before there were 99 cent 'single' tunes from itunes, there were "single" cds. Before "single" cds there were 45's (also known as "singles") and before that there were 78's. For as long as any of us, or our parents or grand parents (depending on the age of those reading this), there has always been a way to only purchase the hit without purchasing a 'collection.' The difference is that now the 'single' is, in fact, only one song. All prior 'singles' were actually two songs, the hit, and the 'flip-side', which, sometimes, became a hit as well, and then you had two hits for the price of one. And to be honest, sometimes I thought the flip-side was an even better song than the one that became a hit.

Based on history, it would seem that the concept of 'singles' can exist side by side with that of 'albums' -- so, in my opinion, this is a non-issue. The larger issue is that the quality of the recordings provided via the internet are significantly inferior to a well recorded CD or record. Hopefully, someday in the not-too-distant future, someone will figure out a way to have a computer-based file match the fidelity of the original recording and sound the same as a well recorded CD or record, and sound that good (and be playable on) a good quality stereo system.