You ever listen to an album a lot of times?
Yeah, of course you have.
Got a favorite one or two or three albums?
Is your favorite song(s) on the album the most mainstream popular track(s)? The single(s)?
No, of course not.
Singles need to be accessible. They need to catch people listening to a certain genre of music and connect with a significant number of those people.
The 23 year old guy who just had a shit day at work?
The 15 year old girl listening right after school is out?
The people at the bar halfway-listening to the music in the background?
The single needs to broadly appeal to them. They need to "get it" enough that it's enjoyable enough on a first listen that they want to keep listening.
If they like the single, maybe they check out the album. On a great album, a lot of the best tracks are kind of weird. At least, they make you think a little bit. Push you.
You can't do that with a single. Well, maybe you can, if you're really good. But with a rare exceptions, most musicians make more interesting, different, conceptual works with their non-singles.
But singles are what get people in the door. Accessible to a broad number of people, who "get it" quickly, so they can enjoy it quickly, so they want to check you out. If you hit them with something weird right away and they're... at the bar... commuting home from a bad day at work... just got out of class...
...you won't be able to appeal to them. And because singles need to serve the places that distribute them, they won't play a track that's too weird that people "don't get" right away, unless maybe you're already really famous and well-known and desired. Maybe.
Strange, conceptual, cutting-edge work? Great. But without a single here and there, nobody finds your strange, conceptual, cutting-edge work.
It's not lowering yourself. Or hell, maybe it is. But do it anyways. You need to if you want to find new people to connect with your more strange and interesting music.
Follow the formulas, just a bit. Take your weird unique take on things, and bastardize it a little bit into accessible form. A single. Then more people find your weird, interesting, unique, conceptual work. That's good.
Anyways. I haven't written a single in a while. Back to our regularly scheduled imperialism tomorrow.
This is great, this is how I'm going to think of my seasteading book, and our introductory material. Singles to get people into this new "artist" both for the benefits of broad access, and to help find those who will enjoy our edgier works.
As a musician I resonate with this idea. Funny that my favorite album I really didn`t get at first. I was 24 at the time and bored with music in general. ``Heard it all`` I thought. My sister asked what I wanted for my birthday and I had heard a bands name in passing and never checked them out. So I asked for their CD....Which one?? ...Any one is ok. I expected them to be like most bands....but they weren`t. First listen (Whole album straight through in my car during hour long commute)...`This is crazy music! Too much going on!` I gave them a shot though. Second listen, `This is interesting....` Third listen, `This is amazing!` No, singles on the album but definitely worth a listen. If they had a single maybe they would be more popular. Singles are important for getting known. Most people don`t have 3 hours to get to know a band. But it`s fun when you make an odd connection. Nice post.
Related to: Rationalists Should Win, Why Our Kind Can't Cooperate, Can Humanism Match Religion's Output?, Humans Are Not Automatically Strategic, Paul Graham's "Why Nerds Are Unpopular"
The "Prisoner's Dilemma" refers to a game theory problem developed in the 1950's. Two prisoners are taken and interrogated separately. If either of them confesses and betrays the other person - "defecting" - they'll receive a reduced sentence, and their partner will get a greater sentence. However, if both defect, then they'll both receive higher sentences than if neither of them confessed.
This brings the prisoner to a strange problem. The best solution individually is to defect. But if both take the individually best solution, then they'll be worst off overall. This has wide ranging implications for international relations, negotiation, politics, and many other fields.
Members of LessWrong are incredibly smart people who tend to like game theory, and debate and explore and try to understand problems like this. But, does knowing game theory actually make you more effective in real life?
I think the answer is yes, with a caveat - you need the basic social skills to implement your game theory solution. The worst-case scenario in an interrogation would be to "defect by accident" - meaning that you'd just blurt out something stupidly because you didn't think it through before speaking. This might result in you and your partner both receiving higher sentences... a very bad situation. Game theory doesn't take over until basic skill conditions are met, so that you could actually execute any plan you come up with.
This is it. I’m selling out. It's going to get all cliché up in here, so prepare yourselves. This is the obligatory Beatles post. In any discussion of music over the past few centuries, it’s inevitable that you will mention the Beatles. The Beatles are extraordinary for many reasons, of course, but what stands out most to me is their prolificacy. Not only were they churning out some of the most influential music of their time, they were doing so at a breakneck pace. The Fab Four released 13 albums in a span of just 7 years—a rate completely incomprehensible by the iTunes generation’s standards.
I have a theory that if you were to ask any selection of 5 people familiar with the Beatles’ work, “What is your favorite Beatles album?” you are likely to hear 5 different responses. I think this speaks not only to the top-to-bottom quality of their entire discography, but also to what I’ll call (for want of a better term) various points of entry. As ubiquitous as the Beatles are in popular culture, it is very difficult to avoid them.Aside from being an important part of culture as it’s taught in history, I remember singing “Yellow Submarine” in fifth grade music class to learn about melody. Hell, they even invaded one of the most famous scenes in the history of cinema.
One of the really important things to consider when discussing these points of entry is time. The generation of which my parents are a part (at the younger end of that spectrum, admittedly) is responsible for Beatlemania. That generation grew up with the Beatles and witnessed their evolution (Listen to this album and then listen to 1970’s Let it Be, and you will hear a definite difference). My generation grew up with the Beatles as a constant. My generation didn’t experience the Beatles as a phenomenon, as a movement, or as a social wave. My generation never met John Lennon (weird, I just got the sudden urge to write about the Who).
Depending on your perspective, my generation was able to (or forced to) choose to tackle the Beatles monster in our own time, on our own terms, and in any order we wanted, chronology be damned. My childhood, aside from the previously mentioned examples, wasn't overrun by the Beatles’ music. I was exposed, but I don’t recall listening to full albums as a kid. As such, when I was in high school I made the conscious decision to become better acclimated with this band that is almost universally revered as the greatest band to ever pick up instruments.