Two-track single is back to aid CD sales

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The two-track single is being brought back by record companies trying to boost flagging sales.

The new CDs, expected to cost about £2 rather than the £4 to £5 existing CD singles cost, will be available from next year. It harks back to the days before CDs were invented and singles had an "A" and "B" side.

Modern CD singles can legitimately include three different music tracks, as well as computer-playable elements such as a video, a picture gallery and text.

But that has not stemmed the collapse in singles sales. "They are down by about 40 per cent in unit terms, year on year," said James Gillespie, the product and new media co-ordinator at the Official UK Charts Company, which compiles the weekly charts on singles sales.

Now, though, record companies think the solution is to offer cheaper - rather than all-inclusive but pricey - singles.

"The two-track format is sort of going back to basics, for people who just want one song rather than all the other added value features," Mr Gillespie said, "maybe kids who don't have a lot of pocket money, or impulse buyers."

Although the record industry has blamed much of its current malaise on piracy, that does not apply to singles, where sales have simply fallen off.

"The idea of this new format is to create a level playing field for the independent record companies against the big ones," Mr Gillespie said.