Posts Tagged ‘CDs’

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The album is dead. Long live the album.

May 11, 2010

Rumours of the album’s death are greatly exaggerated. Ars Technica graphed some data from Tunecore and the RIAA on single and album sales. Here’s the graph for the RIAA data:

It doesn’t look very good. But figure that each album contains about ten tracks. Here’s a graph of songs bought as singles versus songs bought as part of album:

Doesn’t look quite so apocalyptic now, does it?

Another metric of the album’s not-quite-so-imminent demise comes from Spotify founder Daniel Ek, who noted during his SXSW interview this year that fully 30% of playlists on the music streaming service are albums.

Of course, none of this is really meaningful without longitudinal data. And if we’re going to go that route, we might want to consider that the 1990s were an aberration in single sales: since CD singles (unlike 45s) were barely supported by record companies, consumers had little choice but to buy whole albums. But as digital downloads (both legal and illegal) made acquiring tracks √† la carte possible again, music lovers were quick to take advantage of it.

Of course, albums themselves are an artifact of a technological system, governed by the difficulty of distributing music-as-atoms, and how many minutes you could fit on long-playing record (the rationale behind the duration of audio on a CD is a little more involved). Given digital distribution, there’s no reason why artists can’t release singles, EPs, LPs, double albums, sextuple albums…whatever works best with their artistic vision. There’s nothing magical about an 80 minute set.

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The legality of reselling promo CDs

October 19, 2008

Since zed equals zee’s inception, about a year ago, I’ve gotten a decent number of CDs from promoters. Some of them I want to keep, but most of them aren’t worth the storage space, always a premium in my urban environment. I know that someone likes these bands, and I’d really like it if the CDs got listened to. And the easiest way to find those people is through the miracle of capitalism – I want to take the discs down to my local secondhand CD store, or put them on eBay. But many of them are stamped, “Promotional use only – not for resale.” So I was stuck – I didn’t want to have to store them, I certainly didn’t want to landfill them, I don’t personally know people to give them to, and it looked like I couldn’t sell them.

Fortunately, that last turns out not to be (legally) the case. The Legality, an online law review based out of the University of Oregon School of Law, has a useful and accessible article on the “First Sale Doctrine” and CDs. Basically, once you’ve bought the CD, you can do what you want with it – you can sell it, you can regift it to your Uncle Alfred, you can microwave it, whatever. This principle was recently affirmed for promo CDs, warning sticker or no. Universal Music filed suit against an enterprising individual who was scouting¬† secondhand CD stores for rare promos and reselling them to collectors. The California courts ruled that, once the record companies hand them out, that’s the equivalent to selling them – they lose control of what happens.

Of course, with everything going on in the music industry today, it’s hard to imagine that bringing suit over the disposition of the physical objects is really worth the effort.

Link: “Damn the Man!” The Ability to Sell Second-Hand CDs

[via Boing Boing. Image ganked from the Guardian’s Music Blog]