I think the major paradigm shift of albums --> singles occurred when blank CD's became widespread (late 90's). Once fans realized they ddin't have to listen to 12 tracks from the same artist (with a majority of fillers), they could easily mix & match some of their favorite songs from multiple artists. iTunes accelerated this movement.
"Most of the article focuses on the fact that (*gasp!*) given the opportunity to just buy the songs people like, rather than an entire album, many will do just that."
Absolutely correct, Mike. Yet, iTunes does a horrible job promoting the ENTIRE catalog. They show great preference to the most commercially viable material and often overlook the fan favorites.
For that reason & more, we started Rank 'em for the fans to rank their favorite songs from all their favorite artists. When the fan favorite are aggregated for each artist, a valuable resource emerges for recognizing the best material as determined by those that know each artist the best -- their own fans.
You won't find 'Creep' atop our rankings for Radiohead...
i've been saying this for a number of years and glad to see it is being discussed again.
i think a similar dilemma exists in the digital music space, where common perception of "digital music startups" have led others to believe streaming sites right away. yet, there's plenty of other digital music startups flourishing that do not require hefty licensing, etc fees.
hopefully everybody will wake up to that fact as well!