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Third Eye Blind vocalist: Albums unnecessary in digital age

Stephan Jenkins told music-tech conference it's better to release individual songs in the era of iTunes.

Stephan Jenkins, Third Eye Blind's lead singer wants to release individual songs first and albums later.
Greg Sandoval/CNET Networks

SAN FRANCISCO--Stephan Jenkins, lead singer of alternative band Third Eye Blind, is the latest person to agree that the album format is better off dead.

Jenkins, whose band is known for such hits as "Semi-Charmed Life," "Jumper" and "How's it Going to Be," gave the keynote address at the SanFran MusicTech Summit on Monday.

"I don't think it's necessary or useful," Jenkins told several hundred conference attendees. "The album is an arbitrary concept. It's not something that has to exist."

It's important to note that Jenkins wasn't speaking at all about the controversy triggered by remarks made last week by AC/DC. The Australian rockers slammed iTunes in several interviews and suggested that selling individual songs was bad for artists, music, and fans.

I disagreed and wrote the album was, at least in its CD stage, anticonsumer. The album boosted individual transactions and forced consumers to pay a premium for songs they didn't want. A lot of people, mostly music industry insiders and AC/DC fans, e-mailed me to dispute this. They argued that bands couldn't know which songs were hits in advance and it was preposterous to suggest that.

Well if I'm misinformed, so was Kurt Cobain and so is Jenkins. In his speech, he mentioned that he disliked "album filler." This is a term used to describe the practice of loading albums with so-so quality in order to meet the required number of songs for an album. "Everything I do, I mean it," Jenkins said.

Jenkins made another point when said he believes it's better for creative purposes to release individual songs online and then bundle them later if you want.

"Here's what's really attractive to me," Jenkins told the crowd, "we live in the excitement of that song. Let's go record it. And then we upload it and it's for sale for $1 the next day."

Jenkins is putting his money where his mouth is. He said Third Eye Blind plans to release three songs on November 18.