By Richard Menta 3/29/07
A few decades ago the 45 RPM single was considered the best promotional device for selling whole albums. That meant a double dip for a record label as many consumers purchased a song and then bought it again as part of the LP/CD/cassette/8-track.
In the digital world, those who buy tracks from services like iTunes eschew the double dip as a matter of value, especially since full albums have taken on the bad rep of one or two good tunes and twelve tracks of filler.
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The end result is that the cherry-picking of singles has had a negative effect on CD sales (though it is not the only effect). As today's major record labels rely heavily on the bundled delivery of multiple tracks there has been a rally call for the industry to reverse this trend. Apple has decided to do its part by introducing "Complete My Album" on iTunes.
All Complete My Album is doing is removing the double dip. If you spend $1.98 on two singles from an album, Apple will now give you full credit for them if you upgrade to the full album, which means the $9.99 album will run you $8.01. iTunes' upgrade offer is good for up to 180 days after a single is purchased. During that period, iTunes will place reminders for those tracks purchased to entice users.
Ultimately, this will help stir a sizeable increase in the numer of track bundles, which should make the big labels happy. But we might add that for those albums where the rest of the tracks are indeed mediocre filler, that is a handicap the Complete My Album program is not going to fix. Nonetheless, the new iTunes program a plus for those already considering the album purchase after acquiring the hit single.
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