Monday, May 14, 2012

The Re-Birth Of CD Singles?


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.

7 comments:

Alex said...

I always look for CD singles even here at stores like FYE and get strange looks if I ever ask for one. It is sad. Especially for things like the classic Snoop Dogg and Robyn collab Sexual Eruption (Fyre Department Remix) which is sadly only available as a digital download unless I were to import it and is not available on an album version last I checked.

I have seen some 2 track cd singles for Alabama Shakes and Coldplay at Target. The Alabama Shakes single includes a coupon for $2-3 off the album. The only sad part is that even though the singles are here they only contain album tracks and no CD single exclusive b-sides. I miss things like lead singles such as Ace of Base's Cruel Summer having misinformation about the album name (which was originally, in the US going to by Every Time It Rains) and making it that much more of a collectors item than it would be otherwise...

Deirdre Halliwell said...

I prefer a physical CD too. It's so much better than a crappy download with no photo cover thingie.

Blogs like this push record labels to accept that a lot of people still love CD's.

Keep up the good work Mike.

X

Me said...

A physical product will only be worthwhile if it has something unique to offer - and an over inflated price tag doesn't count...

I think a Limited Edition CD still has a place - see how talentless FLOP Tarts the Shat-TURD-dayzzzzzz are at #2 in the UK mids because they are flogging signed CD singles to their deranged twink fanbase via their website - but equally the poopoo has FLOPPED with Madges MUPPETS avoiding her latest CD singles in droves, with What a DIRE FLOP barely scraping Top 100, Revolver #130 and Granny Gone Mild is going to miss the Top 40...

Ultimately relying on a physical without a quality track and proper promo will result in a FLOP - see Kylie's FLOP Outta Tha Charts being her worst charting single EVER in Australia when deranged alKylieda insisted it would boost it to numbar wun...

Caspar said...

why cant they just do limited runs of all charting singles? those of us who want them will buy them giving the labels more money and the rest will download. if they were sold online that gets rid of stocking issues.

Anonymous said...

There's also now a practice of releasing singles (not necessarily EPs as such) with physical-only bonus tracks. Refer to the physical of Guy Sebastian's 'Gold' as an example.

Mike said...

Thanks for the heads up. Will buy "Gold" now just for the bonus track!

Anonymous said...

Magnificent! (As usual. :-P )