In the music industry, a single is a type of release, typically a song recording of fewer tracks than an LP record or an album. This can be released for sale to the public in a variety of different formats. In most cases, a single is a song that is released separately from an album, although it usually also appears on an album. Typically, these are the songs from albums that are released separately for promotional uses such as digital download or commercial radio airplay and are expected to be the most popular. In other cases a recording released as a single may not appear on an album.
The music industry consists of the companies and individuals that earn money by creating new songs and pieces and selling live concerts and shows, audio and video recordings, compositions and sheet music, and the organizations and associations that aid and represent music creators. Among the many individuals and organizations that operate in the industry are: the songwriters and composers who create new songs and musical pieces; the singers, musicians, conductors and bandleaders who perform the music; the companies and professionals who create and sell recorded music and/or sheet music ; and those that help organize and present live music performances.
The LP is an analog sound storage medium, a vinyl record format characterized by a speed of 33 1⁄3 rpm, a 12- or 10-inch diameter, and use of the "microgroove" groove specification. Introduced by Columbia in 1948, it was soon adopted as a new standard by the entire record industry. Apart from a few relatively minor refinements and the important later addition of stereophonic sound, it has remained the standard format for vinyl albums.
An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), vinyl, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded music were developed in the early 20th century as individual 78-rpm records collected in a bound book resembling a photograph album; this format evolved after 1948 into single vinyl LP records played at 33 1⁄3 rpm. Vinyl LPs are still issued, though album sales in the 21st-century have mostly focused on CD and MP3 formats. The audio cassette was a format used alongside vinyl from the 1970s into the first decade of the 2000s.
As digital downloading and audio streaming have become more prevalent, it is often possible for every track on an album to also be available separately. Nevertheless, the concept of a single for an album has been retained as an identification of a more heavily promoted or more popular song (or group of songs) within an album collection.
Despite being referred to as a single, singles can include up to as many as three tracks. The biggest digital music distributor, iTunes Store, accepts as many as three tracks less than ten minutes each as a single, as does popular music player Spotify.Any more than three tracks on a musical release or thirty minutes in total running time is either an extended play (EP) or, if over six tracks long, an album.
The iTunes Store is a software-based online digital media store operated by Apple Inc. that opened on April 28, 2003, as a result of Steve Jobs' push to open a digital marketplace for music. As of January 2017, iTunes offered over 35-40 million songs, 2.2 million apps, 25,000 TV shows, and 65,000 films. When it opened, it was the only legal digital catalog of music to offer songs from all five major record labels. As of June 2013, iTunes Store possessed 575 million active user accounts, and served over 315 million mobile devices, including Apple Watches, iPods, iPhones, Apple TV and iPads.
Spotify is a music and podcast streaming platform developed by Swedish company Spotify AB, headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Launched on 7 October 2008, it is currently available in 79 countries and regions throughout the world. It provides DRM-protected content from record labels and media companies. Spotify is a freemium service; basic features are free with advertisements or automatic music videos, while additional features, such as improved streaming quality are offered via paid subscriptions.
An extended play record, often referred to as an EP, is a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single, but is usually unqualified as an album or LP. EPs generally contain a minimum of four tracks and maximum of six tracks, and are considered "less expensive and time-consuming" for an artist to produce than an album. An EP originally referred to specific types of vinyl records other than 78 rpm standard play (SP) and LP, but it is now applied to mid-length CDs and downloads as well.
The basic specifications of the music single were set[ vague ] in the late 19th century, when the gramophone record began to supersede phonograph cylinders in commercially produced musical recordings. Gramophone discs were manufactured with a range of playback speeds (from 16 rpm to 78 rpm) and in several sizes (including 12-inch/30 cm). By about 1910, however, the 10-inch (25 cm), 78 rpm shellac disc had become the most commonly used format.
Phonograph cylinders are the earliest commercial medium for recording and reproducing sound. Commonly known simply as "records" in their era of greatest popularity, these hollow cylindrical objects have an audio recording engraved on the outside surface, which can be reproduced when they are played on a mechanical cylinder phonograph. In the 1910s, the competing disc record system triumphed in the marketplace to become the dominant commercial audio medium.
Revolutions per minute is the number of turns in one minute. It is a unit of rotational speed or the frequency of rotation around a fixed axis.
The inherent technical limitations of the gramophone disc defined the standard format for commercial recordings in the early 20th century. The relatively crude disc-cutting techniques of the time and the thickness of the needles used on record players limited the number of grooves per inch that could be inscribed on the disc surface, and a high rotation speed was necessary to achieve acceptable recording and playback fidelity. 78 rpm was chosen as the standard because of the introduction of the electrically powered, synchronous turntable motor in 1925, which ran at 3600 rpm with a 46:1 gear ratio, resulting in a rotation speed of 78.26 rpm.
A synchronous electric motor is an AC motor in which, at steady state, the rotation of the shaft is synchronized with the frequency of the supply current; the rotation period is exactly equal to an integral number of AC cycles. Synchronous motors contain multiphase AC electromagnets on the stator of the motor that create a magnetic field which rotates in time with the oscillations of the line current. The rotor with permanent magnets or electromagnets turns in step with the stator field at the same rate and as a result, provides the second synchronized rotating magnet field of any AC motor. A synchronous motor is termed doubly fed if it is supplied with independently excited multiphase AC electromagnets on both the rotor and stator.
With these factors applied to the 10-inch format, songwriters and performers increasingly tailored their output to fit the new medium. The 3-minute single remained the standard into the 1960s, when the availability of microgroove recording and improved mastering techniques enabled recording artists to increase the duration of their recorded songs. The breakthrough came with Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone". Although CBS tried to make the record more "radio friendly" by cutting the performance into halves, and separating them between the two sides of the vinyl disc, both Dylan and his fans demanded that the full six-minute take be placed on one side, and that radio stations play the song in its entirety.
Robert "Bob" Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, author, and visual artist who has been a major figure in popular culture for six decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" (1963) and "The Times They Are a-Changin'" (1964) became anthems for the Civil Rights Movement and anti-war movement. His lyrics incorporated a wide range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defied existing conventions of popular music, and appealed to the burgeoning counterculture, such as on the six-minute single "Like a Rolling Stone" (1965).
"Like a Rolling Stone" is a 1965 song by the American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Its confrontational lyrics originated in an extended piece of verse Dylan wrote in June 1965, when he returned exhausted from a grueling tour of England. Dylan distilled this draft into four verses and a chorus. "Like a Rolling Stone" was recorded a few weeks later as part of the sessions for the forthcoming album Highway 61 Revisited.
Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded in 1887, evolving from the American Graphophone Company, the successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business, and the second major company to produce records. From 1961 to 1990, Columbia recordings were released outside North America under the name CBS Records to avoid confusion with EMI's Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia is one of Sony Music's four flagship record labels, alongside former longtime rival RCA Records, as well as Arista Records and Epic Records.
Singles have been issued in various formats, including 7-inch (18 cm), 10-inch (25 cm), and 12-inch (30 cm) vinyl discs (usually playing at 45 rpm); 10-inch (25-cm) shellac discs (playing at 78 rpm); cassette, 8 and 12 cm (3- and 5-inch) CD singles and 7-inch (18 cm) plastic flexi discs. Other, less common, formats include singles on Digital Compact Cassette, DVD, and LD, as well as many non-standard sizes of vinyl disc (5-inch/12 cm, 8-inch/20 cm, etc.).
A CD single is a music single in the form of a compact disc. The standard in the Red Book for the term CD single is an 8cm CD. It now refers to any single recorded onto a CD of any size, particularly the CD5, or 5-inch CD single. The format was introduced in the mid-1980s but did not gain its place in the market until the early 1990s. With the rise in digital downloads in the early 2010s, sales of CD singles have decreased.
The flexi disc is a phonograph record made of a thin, flexible vinyl sheet with a molded-in spiral stylus groove, and is designed to be playable on a normal phonograph turntable. Flexible records were commercially introduced as the Eva-tone Soundsheet in 1962, and were very popular among children and teenagers and mass-produced by the state publisher in the Soviet government.
The Digital Compact Cassette (DCC) is a magnetic tape sound recording format introduced by Philips and Matsushita in late 1992 and marketed as the successor to the standard analog Compact Cassette. It was also a direct competitor to Sony's MiniDisc (MD), but neither format toppled the then-ubiquitous analog cassette despite their technical superiority. Another competing format, the Digital Audio Tape (DAT) had by 1992 also failed to sell in large quantities —DCC was envisaged as a less expensive alternative to DAT. DCC shares a similar form factor to analog compact cassettes, and DCC recorders can play back either type of cassette. This backward compatibility allowed users to adopt digital recording without rendering their existing tape collections completely obsolete.
The most common form of the vinyl single is the 45 or 7-inch. The names are derived from its play speed, 45 rpm, and the standard diameter, 7 inches (18 cm).
The 7-inch 45 rpm record was released 31 March 1949 by RCA Victor as a smaller, more durable and higher-fidelity replacement for the 78 rpm shellac discs. The first 45 rpm records were monaural, with recordings on both sides of the disc. As stereo recordings became popular in the 1960s, almost all 45 rpm records were produced in stereo by the early 1970s. Columbia Records, which had released the 33 1⁄3 rpm 12-inch vinyl LP in June 1948, also released 33 1⁄3 rpm 7-inch vinyl singles in March 1949, but they were soon eclipsed by the RCA Victor 45. The first regular production 45 rpm record pressed was "PeeWee the Piccolo" RCA Victor 47-0146 pressed 7 December 1948 at the Sherman Avenue plant in Indianapolis, R.O. Price, plant manager. The first release of the 45 came 29 March 1949 in seven translucent colors, one for each type of music: dark blue 52-xxxx light classics series, light blue 51-xxxx international series, yellow 47-xxxx juvenile series, bright red (cerise) 50-xxxx folk series, deep red 49-xxxx classical series, green (teal) 48-xxxx country series, and black 47-xxxx popular series. Except for the 47 series these series started with 0000. 50-0000 (Arthur Crudup), 51-0000 (Meisels), 52-0000 (Al Goodman) The claim made that 48-0001 by Eddy Arnold was the first 45 is evidently incorrect (even though as of this writing 48-0000 has not turned up) since all 45s were released simultaneously with the 45 player on the 29 March date. There was plenty of information 'leaked' to the public about the new 45 rpm system through front-page articles in Billboard magazine on 4 December 1948 and again on 8 January 1949. RCA was trying to blunt the lead Columbia had established in releasing their 33 1⁄3 LP system back in June 1948.
Although 7 inches remained the standard size for vinyl singles, 12-inch singles were introduced for use by DJs in discos in the 1970s. The longer playing time of these singles allowed the inclusion of extended dance mixes of tracks. In addition, the larger surface area of the 12-inch discs allowed for wider grooves (larger amplitude) and greater separation between grooves, the latter of which results in less cross-talk. Consequently, they are less susceptible to wear and scratches. The 12-inch single is still considered a standard format for dance music, though its popularity has declined in recent years.
A video single is a music single in the form of a videotape (mostly VHS, but occasionally Betamax, and/or Video 8), LaserDisc, and DVD. In 1983, British synthpop band The Human League released the first commercial video single called The Human League Video Singleon both VHS and Betamax. It was not a huge commercial success due to the high retail price of £10.99, compared to around £1.99 for a 7" vinyl single.
Physical singles continued declining[ when? ] in the United States, and many record companies stopped releasing them altogether to concentrate more on album sales. Since the establishment of the Billboard Hot 100, singles were not eligible to enter the chart unless they were available to purchase as a physical single. By the late 1990s, several popular mainstream hits never charted on the Hot 100. No Doubt's 1996 hit "Don't Speak" spent 16 weeks at number one on the Hot 100 Airplay chart, but it never charted on the Billboard Hot 100. On 5 December 1998, Billboard changed the rule to allow airplay-only songs onto the chart. Aaliyah's "Try Again" (2000) was the first single ever to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 based solely on radio airplay.
A radio single is also referred as an "airplay single",especially by Billboard. A song is considered a single by the time the label officially releases the song to radio (known as "Impact Date" or "Radio Date").
The internet era introduced music downloads and streaming, which make it possible for every track on an album to also be available separately. Nevertheless, the concept of a single for an album has been retained as an identification of a more heavily promoted or more popular song within an album collection. The demand for music downloads skyrocketed after the launch of Apple's iTunes Store (then called iTunes Music Store) in January 2001 and the creation of portable music and digital audio players such as the iPod.
In September 1997, with the release of Duran Duran's "Electric Barbarella" for paid downloads, Capitol Records became the first major label to sell a digital single from a well-known artist. Previously, Geffen Records also released Aerosmith's "Head First" digitally for free.In 2004, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) introduced digital single certification due to significant sales of digital formats, with Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" becoming RIAA's first platinum digital single. In 2013, RIAA incorporated on-demand streams into the digital single certification.
In South Korean music, the terminology for "albums" and "singles" is unique and includes an additional term, the "single album", a category of releases that is not found outside of Korea. In English, the word "album" in ordinary usage refers to an LP-length music release. By contrast, the Korean word for "album" (Hangul : 음반; RR : eumban) denotes a musical recording of any length released on physical media; it is closer in meaning to the English word "record".
Today, the music marketplace in South Korea recognizes a release type called the "single album" (Hangul : 싱글 음반; RR : singgeul eumban). Although the terms "single albums" and "singles" are similar and sometimes may even overlap in meaning, depending on context, they are considered two distinct release types in South Korea. A "single album" refers to a physical release (like CD, LP, or some other media) collecting one or more singles, while a "single" is only a song itself, typically as a downloaded file or streamable song. The Gaon Album Chart tracks sales of all "offline" albums released as physical media, meaning that single albums compete alongside full-length studio albums (and all other albums). The Gaon Digital Chart, which tracks downloads and streams, is regarded as the true "singles" chart.
As a distinct release type, the single album developed during the CD era in the 1990s. Single albums, typically including about two or three songs, were marketed as a more affordable alternative to a full-length CD album. rpm record released before the advent of downloadable music.The term "single album" is sometimes used to refer to a release that would simply be called a "single" in western contexts, such as a 7-inch 45
To give an example of the differences between full-length albums, single albums, and singles: the K-pop boy band Big Bang has a full-length studio album, titled MADE , which was originally released as a series of four single albums: M , A , D , and E . Two singles were included on each of these single albums; the first in the series, M, contains the singles "Loser" and "Bae Bae".
A single album is distinct from a single even if it only includes one song. The single "Gotta Go" by Chungha was released on a single album titled XII, which was a one-track CD. Even though "Gotta Go" was the only song on XII, the two releases carry different titles and charted separately: XII reached No. 4 on the Gaon Album Chart, while "Gotta Go" reached No. 2 on the Gaon Digital Chart.
The sales of singles are recorded in record charts in most countries in a Top 40 format. These charts are often published in magazines and numerous television shows and radio programs count down the list. In order to be eligible for inclusion in the charts the single must meet the requirements set by the charting company, usually governing the number of songs and the total playing time of the single.
In popular music, the commercial and artistic importance of the single (as compared to the EP or album) has varied over time, technological development, and according to the audience of particular artists and genres. Singles have generally been more important to artists who sell to the youngest purchasers of music (younger teenagers and pre-teens), who tend to have more limited financial resources. Perhaps the golden age of the single was on 45s in the 1950s to early 1960s in the early years of rock music.Starting in the mid-sixties, albums became a greater focus and more important as artists created albums of uniformly high quality and coherent themes, a trend which reached its apex in the development of the concept album. Over the 1990s and early 2000s, the single generally received less and less attention in the United States as albums, which on compact disc had virtually identical production and distribution costs but could be sold at a higher price, became most retailers' primary method of selling music. Singles continued to be produced in the UK and Australia, surviving the transition from compact disc to digital download.
The discontinuation of the single has been cited as a major marketing mistake by the record companies considering it eliminated an inexpensive recording format for young fans to use to become accustomed to purchasing music. In its place was the predominance of the album which alienated customers by the expense of purchasing an expensive format for only one or two songs of interest. This in turn encouraged interest in file sharing software on the internet like Napster for single recordings initially which began to seriously undercut the music recording market.
Dance music, however, has followed a different commercial pattern, and the single, especially the 12-inch vinyl single, remains a major method by which dance music is distributed.
Single sales in the United Kingdom reached an all-time low in January 2005, as the popularity of the compact disc was overtaken by the then-unofficial medium of the music download.As a result, downloads were gradually introduced into the UK Singles Chart from April 2005 to January 2007. Sales gradually improved in the following years, reaching a record high in 2008 and that further being overtaken in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Portable audio players, which make it extremely easy to load and play songs from many different artists, are claimed to be a major factor behind this trend.
A related development has been the popularity of mobile phone ringtones based on pop singles (on some modern phones, the actual single can be used as a ringtone). In September 2007, Sony BMG announced they would introduce a new type of CD single, called "ringles", for the 2007 holiday season. The format included three songs by an artist, plus a ringtone accessible from the user's computer. Sony announced plans to release 50 ringles in October and November, while Universal Music Group expected to release somewhere between 10 and 20 titles.
In a reversal of this trend, a single has been released based on a ringtone itself. The Crazy Frog ringtone, which was a cult hit in Europe in 2004, was released as a mashup with "Axel F" in June 2005 amid a massive publicity campaign and subsequently hit #1 on the UK charts.
The term single is sometimes regarded as a misnomer, since one record usually contains two songs: the A-side and B-side. In 1982, CBS marketed one-sided singles at a lower price than two-sided singles.
On 17 April 2005, Official UK Singles Chart added the download format to the existing physical CD singles. Gnarls Barkley was the first act to reach No.1 selling downloads alone in April 2006. It was released physically the following week. On 1 January 2007 digital downloads (including unbundled album tracks) became eligible from the point of release, without the need for an accompanying physical.