In music , a SINGLE, RECORD SINGLE or MUSIC SINGLE is a type of release , typically a song recording of fewer tracks than an LP record , an album or an EP record . 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.
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 on them. The biggest digital music distributor,
iTunes , accepts as many as three tracks less than ten minutes each as
a single, as does popular music player
* 1 Early history
* 2 Types
* 2.1 7-inch format * 2.2 12-inch format * 2.3 Video single * 2.4 Radio-only single * 2.5 Digital single
* 3 Culture * 4 See also * 5 References * 6 Further reading * 7 External links
The basic specifications of the music single were set 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),
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
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
45 rpm single record with large central hole as used in the USA for jukeboxes
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 ,
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
Although 7 inches remained the standard size for vinyl singles,
12-inch singles were introduced for use by
A video single (also videotape single or
Physical single continued declining in the United States, and many
record companies stopped releasing physical singles altogether to
concentrate more on album sales. Since its establishment of 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. As a
result, on December 5, 1998, Billboard changed the rule to allow
airplay-only songs onto the chart.
The internet era introduced music download and streaming as a release
format of a single. The demand for music downloads skyrocketed after
the launch of Apple\'s iTunes Store (then called iTunes
The sales of singles are recorded in record charts in most countries
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. The
single of "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" was a hit record for
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
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
In a reversal of this trend, a single has been released based on a
ringtone itself. The
The term "single" is sometimes regarded as a misnomer since one record usually has 2 songs on it, when considering the "A" and "B" sides . 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. Selling on downloads alone Gnarls Barkley was the first act to reach No.1 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.
* ^ "Single and EP Definitions on iTunes - EmuBands". 22 April
2013. Retrieved 24 June 2016.