Weird Al in the Digital Age

The latest issue of Wired Magazine has a nice interview with Weird Al Yankovic in it.  It covers a lot of old ground for Al Fans, but there is a near attempt to touch on the problems Weird Al has in the current music market. It’s twofold: First, music is much more fractured than it used to be.  In the 80s, you had MTV and a Top 40 chart.  Today, you have 40 Top 40 charts.  No single lasts the entire summer in the #1 spot.  How can you parody a song that everyone likes, when no single song reaches everyone anymore?

Second, the YouTube Generation can make their own parodies by slapping some random words that rhyme together and uploading them to YouTube, MySpace, etc. overnight.  Not that it’s entirely legal, but it happens.  And anyone who ever looked at Napster in its hey day and any BitTorrent stream since then knows that Weird Al is credited with all of them by people with clearly tin ears.

The solution to both problems is simple: use the internet.  Target niches.  Release as you write.

Sure enough, that’s what Weird Al is doing.  He’s announced that he’ll being selling songs off his website as he writes them, rather than waiting to put together and entire album.  Smart move, though the purist in me misses the sensory overload and excitement of 12 fresh songs on a CD.  Times have changed.  I’ll deal.

The first song comes out this Tuesday, and will be an iTunes exclusive for two weeks.  Sold! More hints from Al in the link above.