The Birth of the Singles Artist… The Death of Music
There is no denying that the music industry is an ever-changing enigma in our culture. Records, cassettes, and now even CDs are essentially obsolete as mp3s from the iTunes Store are all the rage. One interesting element to this new and rapidly growing industry is the birth of the singles artist. A singles artist, in a nutshell, is a performer who makes their money based on the successes of each individual song they put out and not the album as a collective whole. Shall we take a look…
First up is the resident “California girl” Katy Perry. She launched her career two years ago with the worldwide hit “I Kissed A Girl.” Her debut album One Of The Boys went on to release three more songs with “Hot N Cold” being the second stand out hit. This album of 12 songs went on to sell a little over a million copies in the U.S. Her singles, however, sold 3 million and 4 million copies respectively. With the release of her latest album, Teenage Dream, the first three singles “California Girls,” “Teenage Dream,” and “Firework” have sold over 5 million copies combined.
Next up is Rihanna. The Barbadian songstress has released five album within the past five years and has had seven number one hits in the U.S. Yet, despite having seven number ones and fourteen top ten hits total, her albums have never matched the same success or acclaim. For instance, her hit “Rude Boy” was in the top ten in over 10 different countries and sold 2 million copies domestically. The album it came from, Rated R, was critically panned and only sold 3 million copies worldwide.
Lastly, boozehound Ke$ha debuted last year with her smash hit “TiK ToK.” The song sold over 5 million copies in the U.S. and left a mark, not only on American pop culture, but pop culture around the world. Her debut album Animal on the other hand sold a dismal 2 million copies worldwide.
Granted, these three ladies’ achievements are hardly something to scoff at. I certainly don’t have the ability to appeal to that many people. However, something must be said for the fact that these three such examples have been labeled with the “singles artist” status. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when one works to create an album of ten or so songs and only one explodes on the charts and winds up making more money than the album itself, it seems like a waste of valuable resources.
Therefore, where is the music industry going? Will artists follow the likes of (my personal favorite) Kings of Leon or Kanye West and put out a creative, artistically talented album every few years and hope its a critical and financial success? Or will they go the ways of these ladies and simply release songs that appeal to the masses and rake in boatloads of cash? Either way, my headphones are pleased.