Yesterday New Music Tuesdays (Mardi Melodies in iTunes France) debuted a new salvo of sound in the form of Digital 45s. Those flippy black disks are back, digitized, heavily featuring tracks from the 1980s and earlier when you could actually find 45s in stores with relative ease. I may be young, but I did hunt them down when I was 5 to fill up my dad’s 1970s juke box, which runs to this very day.
I gave the concept a test run going with the perennial favorite Kiss by Prince & The Revolution a hard drive spin. Each Digital 45 is effectively the same as a real 45; Side-A and Side-B with a digital sleeve/booklet. Of course, audiophanatics are going to raise the whole vinyl vs. digital quality debate so I won’t even touch it as it’s better to press mute on that well-worn argument. Personally I love the concept more than digital singles. Not only does it revive the medium as it should, it creates a better product in terms of presentation. Prince’s Digital 45 includes the vinyl sleeve art (both sides) as well as the vinyl images, giving a semi-tangible nostalgic feel to the digital purchase.
What could this mean? Digital singles could finally start having more thought taken into them. Instead of the quick fix of one-track tossings, artists should exploit this and release digital booklets akin to these to provide a better user experience. Sure, most of us only need the song…but there’s a comfort in having more. Sound is one sense, visual is a second. Two senses are always better than one, even today.