Personally, I think the climate we live in musically, dictates the current shift. Since there are twice as many artist releasing music (more than ever) it forces artist to realease single, just to stay relevant. This is especially prevalent in Hip Hop. Ive been working on a Hip Hop Project for the past year, and have been very tempted to release a single, just so ppl could hear what ive been working on(even though the project is not finished). However, the total body of work will speak volumes once done, compared to a single that has fewer legs.
I like that. I mean as an artist and as a brand you are telling a story whether you like it or not. By your album art, your Facebook bands page, how you release tracks, etc. so you might as well tell the story right the first time around.... Because most people don't re-read books they didn't like the first time