I generally want complete albums, but in rare cases, I might be after a particular track. I often wonder if all of us aren't after those same tracks, because they more often than not tend to be the very same ones that are Album Only.
More than once over the past several years, I've tried to figure out how to purchase a Stanley Turrentine version of "Sugar," a tune that I often teach to my students; more than once, I have found this tune to be Album Only everywhere I knew to look (though I haven't looked recently, so who knows). It was often the only such track, even if it wasn't over 10 minutes. You think someone knows what's up?
If the damn things are so precious, charge a dollar more. Charge two dollars more for all I care. I would pay $2.99 for a track, but not $5.99, and I don't want to waste time, bandwidth and disk space on shit I don't want. The sites/labels think they'll make a few extra bucks this way, but I wonder how many sales they lose entirely?
Fwiw, iLike.com seems to have the fewest Album Only restrictions of any place I've looked. I was able to buy a nearly 13 minute track that is Album Only everywhere else for $1.89, saving several dollars (and mins. and kbps and MBs) over what the whole album would have cost. This inspired me to investigate further and discover that you can get away with all kinds of things at this site. For example, there's a version of Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony, a piece whose outer movements are each nearly a half-hour long while the middle movement is considerably shorter, where each of the three tracks can be purchased individually for $0.99. Also, the two lengthy tracks of Ornette Coleman's "Free Jazz" are Album Only, but the album itself only costs $1.99. Compare that to $7.79 at emusic and $10.99 (!) at Rhapsody. iLike is, unfortunately, now owned by MySpace. I won't take back anything I said yesterday about social networking, but damn...either they're able to use their market share as leverage in negotiations, or they're getting away with something serious.