This time last year I was mourning the death of CD singles in Australia. Major retailers like JB Hi-Fi, Big W and Target stopped selling them and labels stopped producing them. It was a sad - and unnecessary - end for what was a much-loved item for many music fans. Some of my favourite childhood memories involve riffling through CD racks in record stores. Owning a physical copy of a song somehow made it less disposable. I would examine at the artwork, read the credits, listen to the remixes and check out the B-sides. The digital revolution killed all that. But it didn't have to. There's no denying that the way most people consumed music has changed but there is still a place for multiple formats. As the renaissance of 7" vinyl releases in the UK proved - collectors and crazed fans still exist. There is a definite market for CD singles and Australian record labels appear to be paying attention. Finally.
It started off with the smallest trickle. A random CD single would appear out of the blue every few months but now there's a mini-revival on the way. And we have Sony to thank. They started releasing card singles for their Australian Idol/X Factor contingent - Stan Walker, Jessica Mauboy, Reece Mastin and Timomatic - last year and have continued to delight collectors with physical releases for One Direction and Delta Goodrem. This is smart business. Those acts have loyal followings and CD singles can and do help with chart positions. Reece Mastin would not have a second top 3 hit on his resume without the $1.99 "Shut Up & Kiss Me" physical (check out the video below). CD singles also build a bond with fans that can not be underestimated. That CD is now an advertisement that will, in many cases, be moved around someone's bedroom for the next couple of years.
Interestingly, the other labels are starting to catch on. Universal released a physical for Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend", while Warner is dressing up their recent run of CD singles - for Flo Rida and Lisa Mitchell as EPs. Good for them. That comes with the added bonus of an inflated price tag but I'm happy to pay extra for an 8 and 5 track respectively. The next step has to be doing limited runs for major international acts. It's crazy that Beyoncé, Britney, Lady Gaga, Madonna and Rihanna are not getting physical releases here. Not only would Australian editions appeal to their international fans - jump on eBay to see how much Australian prints of "Poker Face" and "If I Were A Boy" now sell for - but their local fans grew up buying their singles and still hunt them down. Mostly, from Germany. Do a limited run and sell them online. It's not rocket science.
And if you do release a physical, please let us know about it. If I wasn't a full-time Twitter stalker I wouldn't know that half of the recent CD singles existed and I really want to give you my money.