I’m going to go out on a limb and say ‘no’ to this one, just as I said ‘no’ to the one about the CD being dead. That said, I think we’re going to have to redefine our notion of what constitutes an album.
There is no longer any medium-specific reason for popular songs to be a certain length (3 minutes, give or take for one side of a 78rpm shellac disc) nor for collections of songs to be able to fill two sides of a slab of vinyl (around 22 minutes per side), or for mixes to extend no further than about 80 minutes for a standard (red book) CD.
Digital means the death of scarcity in this regard, so you can have 3 hour songs if you wish, or albums with a million songs on them. I don’t think that necessarily means you should tend to those extremes – though I have to admit I’d get a perverse satisfaction if someone did (which is not a promise to actually listen to the whole thing).
But it does mean that you have the freedom to choose.
I’ve had this question in a number of forms. The most common one is the artist who doesn’t really sell many CDs through retail, but every time they perform live, they go through 20, 50 or even 100 CDs over the merchandise table. The question is – if I make the leap to mp3, who’s going to buy that to take home as a souvenir?
A similar question is the one about music as a gift. The simple fact is that it’s quite difficult to gift wrap an mp3. CDs have long been a great present to buy. Simple, personal, and always well received. Buying someone downloaded music doesn’t have the same give-ability.
I’ve even heard this question as ‘I’m essentially a busker. But I make decent money selling my CD wherever I play. Should I change what I do?’. These are all essentially the same questions: when the physical characteristic of the recorded medium is the main point of the purchase (ie: tangible souvenir, presentable item), how can digital files replace physical products?
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