Currently I am listening to Kind of Blue, recorded by Jazz Pioneer, Miles Davis. This album is widely regarded as one of the most influential albums written by one of the most influential artists of the past century. It has received praise from major publications, being described by The Guardian as Not just the biggest selling album in the history of jazz but a fixture in every civilised home and an international symbol of cool. The album has been certified quadruple platinum meaning it has sold over 500,000 copies in it's fifty years of existence. In less than seven months LMFAO's, Sorry for Party Rocking has sold 305,000 copies, and is currently iTunes number one most downloaded song, and number two on billboards top ten.
But why? Why is an album, whose lyrics were described by NME, a popular music magazine, as It(s)songs (are) so imbecilic that if you ate a can of Alphabetti Spaghetti you could shit out more intelligent lyrics to a more pleasing tune." The answer is a multitude of things consisting of; a catchy chorus, great advertising, and the consumers ability to buy with ease.
Apart from the first reason listed, iTunes is responsible for these factors. Buying a top ten album with one song you have stuck in your head is a mere click and $9.99 away, so why not. Just because iTunes provides you easy access to songs does not mean that it corrupts the music industry with every click. Or does it?
Meat, Potatoes, and Why iTunes Kills Music:
The iTunes Approach to writing albums has proved it's worth, commercially, time and time again. By releasing a catchy single you can carry an entire album. iTunes accessibility makes possible to market and feed these albums without difficulty. However iTunes allows for a magnificent, marketing, wormhole to take place. Why sell an album when you can sell a song? Why not cut out the middleman of buying an album with nine songs you don't like, and one that you do, and just buy a song for $.99 instead of an album, you don't like, for $9.99? Commerce says this is a great idea because it does not matter what the rest of an album sounds like, you can earn yachtloads of money off of promotion and one song.
But where does this leave the artist? The artist focus all of his time and energy into one song and allows it's accompanying album to fall into pieces of nothing. This surge for market one song leaves the need for creativity on the floor. If the artist only needs one catchy song why write nine good ones? It takes time, money, and effort to release these songs, that because of the accessibility of iTunes, few will bother listening to. Not to mention if iTunes is Sloth and Greed, than illegal downloading is it's partner Gluttony. With the rise of illegal music pirating even fewer copies of the album are actually being bought, giving the artist less monetary incentive to write a quality album. This stream of thought brought upon by iTunes logic has destroyed the artists need for creativity and therefore brought the downfall of thoughtful, engaging, meaningful music.
Refute and Finale:
However iTunes isn't just the root of all music evil, it does provide some benefits. These benefits are attributed to the fact that anyone can release music on iTunes. This makes it possible for small, localized, independent musicians to release home-made albums that otherwise, would never have seen the light of day. These albums are able to be distributed on a worldwide scale and reach audiences they previously never would have. iTunes attempts to embrace these small scale artists by releasing an indie spotlight of the week. Unfortunately these tracks are usually made free and provide no revenue, unless someone chooses to buy the rest of their album based on one single, something current listeners aren't accustomed to.
iTunes has caused more damage than relief it has provided. It is the FEMA of the music industry. However it has terraformed the music business' landscape forever. Whether the damage is irreversible or not, only time will tell. All we can ascertain is that the purchase of singles is bad for the not-so-starving artist's creativity and great for the industry fat cats. Phoneys.....
Side Note: This note was actually written to Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain and Kind of Blue.