Cyberclinic: If I can choose the tracks I like, why buy albums?
Wednesday 06 August 2008
In last Wednesday's Extra we looked at the way that audio technology has supposedly compromised the listening experience. But reader Andrew Wimble made a point that our feature didn't address: "For a long time after I got my iPod it was switched to random play, so I never listened to whole albums."
Ever since CD players included a shuffle function, our listening habits have become more fragmented; today, MP3 players make it easy for us to skip tracks we don't like and, thanks to iTunes and illegal downloads, we're given little incentive even to acquire those tracks in the first place.
The debate over whether this is a good thing is split between purists and casual listeners. Whenever the words "death of the album" appear, you inevitably hear whoops of delight from people such as Chris, who said on our blog: "Perversely, the only albums that I listen to in one go are mix CDs."
Consumers have complained for years about having to fork out more than £10 for an album which "has only three decent tunes on it"; these people need complain no longer. Musicians, meanwhile, are appalled that this deprives them of the opportunity to explore their creative impulses. The vast majority of consumers say: "Well, we've never enjoyed coughing up for your creative impulses, we prefer hit singles." As a blog at futureofthebook. org puts it: "While a generation of shufflers may not have much respect for the integrity of albums... most albums don't have all that much integrity to begin with."
The band Ash announced their latest album would be their last – not because they're splitting up, but because they're resigned to the fact that listening habits have changed. Whether bands can make money out of drip-feeding the public individual tracks (remembering that singles have, for a long time, merely been loss-leading adverts for money-spinning albums) will, no doubt, provide another headache for the music business.
Email any technology gripes to firstname.lastname@example.org, or join the discussions on the blog at www.independent.co.uk/cyberclinic. Currently under discussion: Do £60 antivirus-software packages protect me any better than the free ones?
Life & Style blogs
Who is Teresa Fidalgo? Debunking the fake ghost story that's got Instagram spooked
Paris Fashion Week: Skirting the issue for the stylish boys' brigade
Losing appetite as you age? Try adding umami flavour to restore the 'joy of taste'
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
Miss Universe 2015: A beefeater, a yellow tree and an entire hockey game - the bizarre national costumes
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
- 1 Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers 'terrorists', BBC says
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Software Tester is required t...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - 1st Line Helpde...
£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A smart software company locate...
£35000 - £45000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Wes...