The common wisdom you hear these days is that the concept of the "album" is dying thanks mainly to the ability to obtain single songs (whether through legal means or not). However, some are beginning to challenge that thinking. Bandcamp, a fantastic service for musicians we've discussed before
notes that their sales data bucks the trend
: full albums outsell single song downloads on the site. There are a few reasons why:
- Most Bandcamp artists are indie and attract fans more interested in complete works than the average Hannah Montana/Lady Gaga flavor of the moment consumer
- You can listen before you buy via Bandcamp. Not just 30 second samples, but rather the whole album.
- iTunes and others price most CD's at $10. Bandcamp artists have found that name your own price with a $5 minimum is a real sweet spot.
- iTunes and others encourage single track purchases with page layouts, buy buttons and featured tracks
This is definitely interesting. I know that I'm in the camp of folks who never buy single tracks, but always look to buy the full albums of bands I like, so that makes sense. But the really interesting point is the third bullet: if albums were priced closer to $5, people would likely be a lot more interested in buying. Again, this shouldn't be a surprise. When the old Allofmp3.com let people buy albums for sums between $2 and $5, it seemed to be quite popular -- even compared to the ability to just download albums. It certainly adds a lot of credence to the idea that one of the big problems the recording industry faced was really the super high prices of CDs.