We’ve long been able to illegally download digital music files for free. Many people (eh…like me) don’t go there, but others have had a field day at the artists’ expense. And we’ve also long been able to play single .mp3 files on sites like HypeM , which aggregates .mp3 files from blogs everywhere.
Singles Streaming Everywhere
LaLa.com allowed us to play an album for free for the first time and then we had a chance to buy a Web-only album for a cheap price or .mp3 files at prices competitive with Amazon. Sadly, Apple bought LaLa (R.I.P. LaLa) and we’re left with sites like Rdio and Rhapsody that charge $5 for the privilege that LaLa gave us for free. Let’s see what Apple does with LaLa (if anything) or if the much-hyped British Spotify ever comes to the U.S.
The Album Preview
Once Apple shuttered LaLa, I turned to my tried and true KCRW for inspiration and discovered on their site, The Album Preview. I’m sure this has been happening for a while and I just didn’t know about it. But I do now and I love it. Every week, KCRW adds a new album to their Album Preview page. You can listen to the featured album in its entirety for at least a week, and often for up to a month. There are usually at least 3 or 4 available to listen to at any given time.
I was waiting for my pre-order of the Arcade Fire album The Suburbs and the day before the album was to arrive in my inbox, my friend in London sent me a link to NPR’s Music site and guess what? The album was streaming in its entirety so I was able to listen to it the day before I got it. “We Used to Wait”. That’s the title of one of the songs on The Suburbs and ironically about simpler times when we used to write letters and when we actually did wait for the release date of an album before hearing it. Well, no more. NPR.org/music is a great source for listening to albums in their entirety.
A friend of mine questioned why these sources are streaming entire albums and how this is ‘destroying the music industry’ and hurting artists. I would argue that the music industry has been destroyed for years and it was their inability to keep up with changing times that led them to their current dire situation, i.e. Apple leading the way in music sales. Artists are a different story. Sure, they been affected by people not paying for music but some (like Lily Allen, etc.) have used the Internet to get where they are today.
And many other people under the age of 30 may ask the question: “What is an album?” For those of you who ask this question, please disregard everything preceding this sentence and everything after.
I’m one of those people (eh.. over 30) who still listens to albums. I happen to think that getting your album previewed on a site as well known as NPR is a boon to future sales. Sure, a listener can go to the extra trouble of recording the preview, but most won’t. And if they like it, and have it stuck in their head later, they’ll probably buy it.
So, let’s take a vote:
Do you know of any good sources for Album Previews? Let me know in the comments.
Here’s an album that I listened to in a preview that I may not have otherwise. It’s Ray LaMontagne’s God Willin’ and The Creek Don’t Rise. It’s NOT my usual thing but it’s an excellent album, especially (in my opinion) after the first song.