There's an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today about a trend toward record companies pulling their artists' records from the iTunes Music Store — and/or avoiding iTunes altogether — because selling singles at Apple's mp3 store isn't always as profitable (or necessary) as people think. Kid Rock's latest album, Rock 'n Roll Jesus, was never sold on iTunes, for example, and he still managed to sell 1.7 million copies in the US alone. Estelle is on the same label as Rock, and after seeing how well his album has done, the label yanked hers from iTunes as well — even though she currently has one of the hottest singles of the Summer.
I naively thought the ailing music business had finally surrendered to the download. Now I'm not sure where I stand on all this. From an artistic perspective, I think some albums really are a total package, and it's a shame to pick them apart by only buying singles. That's why Jay-Z refused to sell his American Gangster album on iTunes last year, stating, "As movies are not sold scene by scene, this collection will not be sold as individual singles."
On the other hand, not all "collections" are a work of art. Do we really need to listen to Katy Perry's album front to back rather than picking and choosing what songs we like? I bet a lot of people are glad they could buy just "I Kissed a Girl" on iTunes rather than shelling out $10 or more to get that one song.
So what do you think? Is this smart on the part of record labels, and does it preserve the integrity of the album format? Or is this just delaying the inevitable? I have to say, as I scan my iTunes library, I sure have a lot of unrelated singles mashed together, which is really different from my CD book from the old high school and college days.