The Flathead EP
The major labels may be bemoaning the loss of their market shares due to the sharp decline in CD sales and their confusion over what to do with a thing like iTunes, but they have no one to blame but themselves and the examples of their wrongheaded, outmoded business practices are innumerable.
This release by The Fratellis is just one glaring example. The EP fell out of popular appeal in the '40s here in the States, only holding strong in the world of independent labels and in England where they are used as a stopgap measure to keep a band in the popular consciousness between albums. The EP idea is being picked up by iTunes, selling virtual five to six song live sessions by bands and or B-side collections, but these are mostly getting picked up by those artists' hyperactive fans who must have everything.
Why then is a major label like Interscope flooding an already over-saturated marketplace with copies of this four-song CD then? True, the cost of pressing up a few hundred thousand CDs is probably a pittance when you look at the large amounts of money that the label is getting back from the sale of Gwen Stefani, 50 Cent, and Fergie songs, but listening to them crying foul is increasingly confusing when you see/hear them blatantly refusing to embrace the new way of obtaining and listening to music that threatens to turn the major label world completely on its head.
And there's nothing on this disc to really write home about. The Fratellis have, at this point, peaked with their slinky single "Chelsea Dagger," leaving the rest of their so-so album Costello Music to suffer in its wake. The title track of this EP is no exception as it is a confusing mix of '70s rock swagger with a dash of '60s la-la pop thrown in apropos of nothing. They make the transition smoothly enough but the song still ends up sound schizophrenic and shaky because of it. The other three songs are just more trumped-up rock by a group of Glaswegian lads that wish they had come of age 30 years ago.
So, the label loses money, but will most likely pass that bill on to the band in hopes of recouping all the expenses of this venture somehow. The Fratellis go deeper into debt and most likely end up compromising themselves somehow by selling their music to commercials or movie soundtracks. The only people that really win are those fans of the band who will spend all of $3.96 to download the tracks from iTunes (if they pay for it at all).
It's surely is a brave new world, folks.