Here's a thought: Maybe "albums" AREN'T dead.
There's been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth since the arrival of iTunes over the death of the album, now that buyers can "cherry pick" the two or three actually "good" tracks on an album and ignore the rest. Lots has been said about the return of the single in the digital era.
Here's another angle:
Since I've been listening to a LOT of new music via Lala.com, I am listening to entire albums. That's very much part of the appeal: I come out of Starbucks with a card offering me "one free download" from iTunes, but I go home and listen to the entire album on Lala.com.
Why is that important? Because several times, it has not been until I've gotten deep into the album that something has sunk in. Now, maybe that's an argument for the singles – maybe that's the only track worth listening to. But what's really happening is I'm getting comfortable with the whole experience, getting softened up for the musical harpoon to come…
A couple of cases in point: Over the weekend when I was listening to Maura O'Connell's album "Don't I Know," it wasn't until I got to the 10th track (Phoenix Falling) that I was really knocked out. Then I went back and started listening to the whole thing again. That would not have happened if I hadn't had access to the whole album.
A similar experience took place a few weeks ago when I was listening to a singer/songwriter Joe Crookston at a site called 100000fans.com . I picked Joe from their roster because he looked like my kinda guy — acoustic singer/songwriter, and that he was. Nice voice, good guitar, interesting lyrics. And then I got to a song called "Able Baker Charlie and Dog" about… well, don't let me spoil it for you. Just and listen for yourself.
But do yourself a favor, and listen to everything. I mean, it's all there for the listening.
And, Joe, if you've got a Google alert on yourself… when will you be in Nashville??
(And, just in passing: I don't know about that 100000fans site. I signed up for Joe's e-newsletter from that site, and haven't heard a thing since…)