The 3 track album and other heresies

The recording industry is to this day entrenched in its industrial-age manufacturing business model. This model was initially based on the manufacture and retail sales of the vinyl single and album. Today, the recording industry has maintained this model while replacing the medium, a 10 track, or thereabouts, CD, and using technology to improve its production processes.

When a new album is created we often wait several months before it is available for purchase. Digital download versions of the songs are usually not available until the CD has been manufactured and has shipped to stores. Sometimes a single is available for digital download as a teaser for the whole album.

We hear that illegal music downloading via P2P networks is a major contributor to the decline of the recording industry. A recent survey noted there has been a decline in illegal downloading of digital copyright material by 24% over the last 3 years. Perhaps, the real issue with declining music sales is the recording industry’s fascination with its 10 track CD business model.

Let’s think out of the jewel case. New ideas for packaging music just might get the recording industry back on track. For example:

  1. Stop thinking the CD is a 10 track album. Create 3 or 4 track albums!
  2. Spend less time recording an album or spend the same amount of time on 3 to 4 different smaller track albums.
  3. Spend more time in production, sequencing and combining songs in each smaller track album. Duplicate songs from one album to another if the sequencing makes sense.
  4. Sell the single tracks and 3 song albums on digital download sites first, even before they are available as a physical medium. This is also a way to test which combination of songs works for the consumer by geographic region.
  5. Price a 3 track album on digital download sites at a price that makes it attractive — say $2.49.
  6. Market the music earlier, not just when it’s available as a physical medium.
  7. In some cases, don’t even bother to deliver a physical album to brick and mortar retail stores.
  8. Use internet streaming as a marketing medium, work with social networking web sites, recommendation engines, and sharing services to create viral adoption of new music — well before it’s available in a physical package.


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  2. Pingback: Richard French’s Weblog » Blog Archive » Maybe it's time for the 3 track digital album!

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