Another of iTunes’ famous hold outs has finally woken up to the reality of the music business: singer-songwriter Bob Seger has finally given a thumbs up to Apple to start selling his songs.
Although Seger hasn’t hit iTunes yet, he should be live on iTunes Tuesday with his two multiplatinum concert albums, Live Bullet and Nine Tonight. They will be simultaneously available on Amazon MP3.
Even better news for Seger fans, the songwriter promises to use iTunes in the future to release existing works, as well as unveil songs from his backlog of unreleased material in “drips and drabs.”
What caused Seger to finally shift to iTunes? Reality, according to his manager, Ed “Punch” Andrews.
“[iTunes] is probably the best delivery system ever invented, but the industry gave up a lot of quality to have that system,” Andrews said. “At some point, if this is what everybody is accepting, we know we have to keep current. But if we were going to do this, we needed to make sure it was as great as we could make it.”
Seger does have a point: iTunes’ emphasis on the single as the unit of measurement of an artist’s work, not an album, can “erode the artistic integrity of albums,” as he says.
“This delivery system is about singles,” said Andrews. “Something like ‘Turn the Page’ would never have occurred if this had been the way of the world back then.”
He’s right in his own way, of course. If Apple suddenly decided iBooks would only sell books by the chapter, you’d suddenly see novels fade in popularity compared to short story collections. But I think what Seger misses is that tracks already were the dominant unit of musical measurement for more casual listeners… and it’s radio that is responsible for that, not iTunes.
If you want to release an album is the post-iTunes age, well, that’s something you can still do, as you always could. You just need to accept that unlike the “golden” years, you can no longer force everyone who wants to hear just a couple tracks to buy the full album at full price.