I’m an album buyer. I’ve been known to hear a fantastic song on the Radio Three podcast and immediately buy the whole album. Have I been disappointed? Sure. But I keep doing it and I will continue to keep doing it, for two fundamental reasons:
- A good album is more than a sum of all pieces: my top two albums of the year (Gaslight Anthem and Frightened Rabbit) have a lot of great songs—but the feeling I get after listening to these albums is one of completion. One song might leave me raw but another soothes—it all works together.
- A good song does not a good artist make: I need more to determine whether this is a band I want to invest my limited music listening time in. Buying a whole album can make me love them. Listening to one song is not enough to cement the bond and I’m looking for those bonds.
Circling back to relevance, I’m a reader too. I read short story collections, essay collections and other curated pieces and I’ve never once felt that I would rather buy small fragments of that work instead of the whole things. I listen/buy individual songs to sample them so that I can buy the whole piece because I trust my own taste more than a reviewer.
If a publisher isn’t chunking content and allowing me, an avid seeker of new artists to love, the chance to find that small piece that will drive me to buy the big piece, is there an opportunity cost? It’s not just one sale lost. When I’m in love, I tell the world. I’ve nagged many friends to buy my top two albums of the year, mentioned them on this blog to you and probably even shared the name with random strangers (I’m not kidding, sadly).
Book lovers want to love your authors. Help them.