D45's from Apple's iTunes? I'd give it a 'D'

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 19 July 2009

The music industry has been going 'back to the future' for format inspiration again, with the launch this week in the US of the D45 via iTunes. These digital downloads feature an 'A' and a 'B' side, and the thumbnail image embedded in each digital file looks a bit like an old 7" single sleeve or a jukebox promo version of an old hit. The range includes a 'D45' from Michael Jackson (of course), and 'Use Somebody' by Kings Of Leon, a record that I'm sure you'll agree is simply synonymous with the 7" vinyl format.

D45 promo banner

Where to begin?

Back in the early 1900s when the shellac 78 was first introduced, you used to get two tracks. One of them was the track you wanted. The other one - the 'B' side - was a track you probably didn't want, and most likely had never heard. You got it because physically the record had another side to it, and it looked pretty shoddy, even by music industry standards, to sell you half a blank record.

This 'new' initiative seems like just another attempt by the industry to roll back to the days when it was normal to have a track or tracks you didn't want foisted upon you at the point of purchase because music content hadn't been disaggregated.

It isn't even that 'new' a re-hash of an old idea. In 2007 Rhino tried to introduce the digital greatest hits EP, echoing another old physical format, the Extended Play 7".

Rhino Hi-Fives on the Sony Connect store

I'd love to have been in the marketing meeting where they decided that the future of digital music distribution isn't to allow people to download 'Kiss' by Prince for $0.99. What consumers really want is to pay $1.49 and get absolute classic 'Love Or Money' bundled with it alongside a PDF image of an obsolete physical format.

D45s on the US iTunes store

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