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Please Help Me: Singles Past and Present

Rewind << Past

When I was at sixth-form college, I used to drop in to Woolworths on the way to morning registration on a Tuesday and insist that the counter stuff rummage through their box of latest deliveries for the newly released single from PWEI, Therapy?, Jesus Jones, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, Carter USM or The Wonder Stuff.

I didn't want just one version of the single, I wanted all versions of the single: 2 x CD, tape, 12" vinyl, 7" vinyl. Anything that had a unique b-side or remix I wanted.

Fast-forward >> Today

Today I listen to less music, but still I keep an eye out for bands and artists who've proven they're still worth listening to. But recently I've encountered something strange about singles.

It happened like this. I was thrilled to hear about two artists releasing albums scheduled for November 2014. Both made available as pre-orders and both with one track available now (on iTunes and Amazon) with an official single to follow a few weeks later.

So I downloaded the two tracks that are part of the pre-order albums. Then I waited. Sure enough news spread and emails dropped into my mailbox announcing the singles. But where are they? I can listen online to the singles. But where are they? I can't buy them in a store, I can't buy them online, I can't download them for free, there's nothing I can own be it physical or electronic in form.

More details

So let's get down to the nuts and bolts of the artists I'm writing about. This isn't a name and shame, I'm not angry or annoyed. I'm simply bemused as to why I'm being notified by email about single releases that don't actually appear to be singles. It's weird. And in Damien Rice's case (yes, he's one of them) I don't think it's a lack of financial backing because he's just sold out a world tour in seconds.

Damien Rice has a single on Soundcloud along with a short "teaser" of the video on YouTube and Tim Wheeler (he's the other) has an audio-only video on YouTube, but I can't buy the singles, I can't even add them to a Spotify (shudder!) playlist. There's no vinyl or CD to order. So what does it really mean that these artists have released singles? (Rice's was announced on 23 September 2014 but still I cannot give him my money or watch the whole of his video.)

Tim Wheeler (lead singer of Ash turned solo artist) might not be in quite the same position as Rice but all the same I'm bemused. The audio-only video has been available since the album pre-orders went live (on and off at least), but now it seems to be "the" single.  There's also notes on Wheeler's website about where the video was shot but there's no "proper" video.

Can anyone help me to navigate the modern world of buying singles? I really honestly need your help to understand it. Do we listen or do we own? Call me a dinosaur, but I'm still desperate to own (and a b-side or two would be nice as well, especially from Rice who's been away from the music scene for many years). 

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