22
May 02

The end of the single?

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 210 views

The end of the single? Yes, yes, we’ve heard it all before. Andy Gill, writing for The Independent marks the fiftieth anniversary of the British pop charts by charting its supposed demise. There are some interesting points made here, but the overall approach remains undialectical. Yes, the nature of the pop charts has been affected by wider changes in the music industry, by marketing strategies, by a loss of interest in the longevity of those artists perceived to be single-machines. But the story Gill tells is of successive attempts to represent more accurately what songs people actually want to listen to, and for which a sales chart is always going to be an imperfect tool (although better than a chart with radio play included). We also live in the era in which the consumption of MP3s is taking the old 7 inch format to its logical conclusion, the mass distribution of single tracks amongst a global audience. The story that needs to be told is not that of the death of the pop single, but how the pop single came to swallow the world.

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