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Single out your music taste - the album is over

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Single out your music taste

March 28, 2005

The days of the album will soon be over, with online options creating a music publisher in everyone, writes Steve Dow.

The death of the album is nigh.

With talk of Apple launching its iTunes Music Store in Australia, the single is about to be declared king, and the concept of recording a year's output of songs and calling it an album is in terminal decline.

Today's young music buyers think much less of suffering a pop group or artist's entire yearly quota of work, which is often recorded just to meet music labels' contractual obligations.

As consumers, young listeners have surfed in on the crest of downloading technology, using MP3 digital files to choose the songs they want.

Apple has launched its iTunes internet music store in most major record markets overseas, but has taken its time setting up the service in Australia. That could be about to change, though no one knows precisely when. While there are other pay-per-single music download legal services already established in Australia, such as Telstra's Big Pond music service, iTunes will rapidly become the market leader if and when it arrives, given its dominant market penetration of hardware music listening devices.

Having downloaded the iTunes software on their computer, Australians will be able to log on to the site, preview songs with 30-second grabs, buy a song, have it downloaded permanently to the software, then transfer the songs to their iPods.

In the US, iTunes songs sell for 99 cents and in the UK for 79 pence; Australians will probably pay more. Customers will even be able to "publish an iMix" - leave a list online of their favourite tracks for friends or strangers to copy in their own eclectic running order; the digital equivalent of compiling a cassette tape of mixed songs. No wonder the album mix as decided by a record company or artists is looking stale.

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