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The Death of Singles

03/24/2011

My first single, U2's Staring at the Sun

My first single, U2's Staring at the Sun

I guess we can call this a type of followup post to yesterday’s Classic iPod wishlist. Saw this headline on Twitter today:

Mercury Records Stops Production on Singles

Remember when these entities called record labels came out with this brand new technology called 33s and 45s? We developed terminology around this new technology in the music industry: records, albums, singles, etc. These words have now become a part of the musical lexicon and aren’t going anywhere, even if the technology may disappear. It sucks, but physical media is going away for the most part. Artists and music companies can make more money if they don’t release a physical product. And since every CD I purchase gets imported into iTunes and then goes on to the shelf (or into the car to be eaten by bumps in the road), I have less of a tie to the physical medium. MP3s players killed CDs, even if CD players will continue in some form or another.

I guess this blog post is me both understanding the oncoming rhetorical storm and on the other hand saying “so what?”. I remember when so many video rental stores started shutting down; people older than I started reminscing about going in to movie rental stores, striking up a conversation and friendship with the employee behind the counter, and discovering through hearsay and recommendation new movies to watch and enjoy. There was a social element involved that is now lacking in the days of Netflix. (And don’t forget, we wouldn’t have as many authors and directors today if they hadn’t worked in video rental stores surrounded by their passion; Kevin Smith alone justifies the old video store paradigm.)

U2's Please/Popheart EP - I had the Please single version

U2's Please/Popheart EP - I had the Please single version

Video games have their own equivalent. The arcades used to be social hubs for people; now that experience has been digitized into Xbox Live. And it’s just not the same. I was too young to be around during the heydey of arcades, but I caught the tail end of it, and it was incredibly exciting and fun to go watch and try to compete against the older guys playing Virtua Fighter and Mortal Kombat II. Those days are over though, except in kiddie arcades like Chuck E Cheese or those dens of iniquity at state fairs. (Except for that totally awesome retro and dirt cheap arcade in Manitou Springs, Colorado! That place is awesome.)

And now many bookstores are closing down locally. But I’ve never looked for recommendations for books from bookstore employees…yet I’m sure many have. Perhaps in the smaller non-chain stores.

Back to the music…I remember buying many CD singles a decade ago. They were always good for B-sides and songs not included on regular CDs. I think I quit collecting U2 singles when the extra material was no longer original and was just remixes and live performances, most of which I already had. I went through a phase of buying singles from other artists as well, probably got a good foot tall stack of those incredibly slim CD cases. Once upon a time artists made a career out of releasing singles, but that’s no longer the case. Singles are simply songs that artists approve to be played on the radio in a specific order. No physical medium need be involved.

So so long singles. I’m not surprised this day has come. You were great. But technology has moved on.

Oh yeah, and here is the first single B-side I fell in love with: U2’s Staring at the Sun – Monster Truck Remix. Preview only, for some reason this song ain’t on YouTube.

And the U2 with the most remixes and singles…I’m fairly certain at least…and IT’S A CRYING SHAME THIS SONG HASN’T BEEN PLAYED SINCE 2005!!

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