Hip hop artist, producer and sometimes mogul Jermaine Dupri attempts to lay out the case for Jay-Z’s “album only” decision today in the Huffington Post. That sound you hear? A gaggle of music pr folks, storming into Jermaine’s office, guns drawn, demanding that he drop the keyboard – right now.
Why? Because while Jermaine starts his essay by making a token nod toward art and integrity and stuff, he quickly starts truth-telling: Apple’s (AAPL) sell-by-the song model is great for consumers and bad for the music business. And stripped of the album-or-nothing model that dominated the business just 10 years ago, the big music labels are doomed.
These days people just assume that you need a number one single to have a number one album. But look at what’s really happening. Soulja Boy sold almost 4 million singles and only 300,000 albums! We let the consumer have too much of what they want, too soon, and we hurt ourselves. Back in the day when people were excited about a record coming out we’d put out a single to get the ball going and if we sold a lot of singles that was an indication we’d sell a lot of albums. But we’d cut the single off a few weeks before the album came out to get people to wait and let the excitement build. When I put out Kris Kross we did that. We sold two million singles, then we stopped. Eventually we sold eight million albums!
Did consumer complain? Maybe so. But at what point does any business care when consumer complains about the money? Why do people not care how we – the people who make music – eat? If they just want the single, they gotta get the album.
Forget market projections, Edgar Bronfman speeches or anything else: This is the best distillation of the “big music is screwed” argument you’ll read. And the fact that it was penned, unwittingly, by a music insider gives it that much more resonance.
Related: Jay-Z To Fans: Please Steal My Music
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