There is always a row about how to quantify success and it is rarely more evident than in the music industry where a large number of factors contribute to an act’s profile and reputation. A well-reasoned blog this month pointed out how the industry is in danger of painting itself into a corner over how it measures sales and reports success. The complaint being made was that we all run the risk of downgrading our most valuable financial asset (the album) by confusing what an album actually is.
For the sake of being contrary I would actually argue that the industry’s most important asset is now the single. I’ve made the point before (two years ago!) that we’re in the age of the mega-track and the growth and popularity of streaming is only more likely to enforce this point. People continue to consume music in their own traditional (and new) ways but their entry point to the album is always likely to have been through hearing a single, it is the definitive gateway drug – an earworm that drags you to purchase. A mega-track will always result in increased album sales for the artist concerned but the lack of one can kill an album. It remains the best advertisement and should also exist as a stand-alone revenue source.It’s all in the measurement, perhaps, but forget the formats and think about sales – whether single or album streams, downloads or physical. You can read it in many ways and too much into it.