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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 July, 2003, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
'Single doomed' says debate poll
Paul Weller
Paul Weller bemoaned the lack of investment in bands
Nearly 70% of the thousands of listeners who tuned in to BBC Radio 2's Great Music Debate said they thought the single would not survive.

The interactive debate on the future of the music industry lasted for five hours, with live discussions and documentaries about the troubled state of the recording business in the UK.

Singers Paul Weller and David Gray were among contributors to the debate - staged to discuss why CD sales had dropped and what could be done to regenerate the industry.

Listeners voted on the evening's central question - whether the single could survive.

More than two out of three listeners - a total of 69% - believed it would not last. Only 31% said it would.

If the first album doesn't sell a million, you don't always get the chance to make a second one
Paul Weller

Last year, album sales fell by 4%, while music sales dropped by 13% in the first quarter of 2003.

Contributors blamed a number of factors, including the trend towards music inspired by TV talent search programmes such as Popstars.

Use of the internet to obtain tracks for free had also contributed to the slump, they suggested.

And they pointed to disproportionately high prices for singles compared with albums.

The emergence of dance culture was also singled out, with a trend towards clubbing among young consumers rather than album and single buying.

Beverley Knight
Beverley Knight said some chart-toppers were "mediocre"
Complaints were raised saying that the major record labels were not willing to invest enough in new acts.

Former The Jam frontman Weller said: "Unfortunately these days if you don't get a hit single, or the first album doesn't sell a million, you don't always get the chance to make a second one.

"A band may not make the best album first time but you don't know what they are going to make down the line. It could be fantastic."

Singer Beverley Knight said some songs were topping the charts that no-one could name or even remember.

"Back in the day the chances were that unless it was a novelty record, it was a really good song," she said.

Free music today will mean no music tomorrow,
BPI executive chairman Peter Jamieson

"It's hard to sit at home and watch bands you know have been put together by a TV show. It's mediocrity dressed up as greatness."

In a separate speech to the UK music industry's ruling body, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), executive chairman Peter Jamieson called on members to embrace new technology.

But he warned that online music pirates must not be allowed to thrive at the expense of artists and the record industry.

"Free music today will mean no music tomorrow," he said.

"We all need to co-operate in a move to authorisation of all internet music. Anarchy cannot rule."

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