Is the Album Dead ?

zzdrummer

Senior Member
Albums! And from the responses so far it seems I am in the clear majority!

And as it happens I actually have an album coming out very soon, 'The New Food To Eat', which will be on iTunes before too long, and also available on CD.
For more info on that, click where it says 'This' in my signature!
I think we see this as the majority because all of us here are mucisians and enthusiastic music lovers. However, if you look at the average, non-mucisian you will see a trend where the album is definitely dying, with people buying whatever song is playing on the radio. Obviously thats not everyone, but it is a large chunk of people, especially in my younger top-40 generation.

However, while the physical album may die, I don't think they will stopped being sold digitally purely because there is no other way to organize it, which is good for all of us.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
The album is a creation of the record industry, designed to present music in the most profitable way possible for them given the technology of the day. It also evolved to be a great way to organize songs by themes, periods of time, stages of a group, present cool art and it became a cultural istrument for more than 50 years.

The album and the record industry are dinosaurs, though. I have a lot of them and I listen to them and I love them, but they long ago stopped being the dominant way of getting music out.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
The album is a creation of the record industry, designed to present music in the most profitable way possible for them given the technology of the day. It also evolved to be a great way to organize songs by themes, periods of time, stages of a group, present cool art and it became a cultural istrument for more than 50 years.

The album and the record industry are dinosaurs, though. I have a lot of them and I listen to them and I love them, but they long ago stopped being the dominant way of getting music out.
Actually, the album is a product of the classical music world and especially operetta, which was the chief form of popular music in the late nineteenth and early twentierh centuries. People would buy highlights of the show in boxed sets called albums. When the lp was invented this again was another boon for the classsical music world because you could present full length symphonies and opera. The CD took that one step further for classical music where now you could fit full symphonies or full opera acts on one CD. it also featured a fullness of dynamic and frequency range.

When the lp became popular, it made sense for artist to try to create a sense of continuity from song and song and side A to side B, as Frank Sinatra and The Beatles did. That gave birth to the conept album. The concept album was really in decline by the 1980s, which saw a return to the single in the new wave and hair metal bands, though the better song writers like Prince and Bruce Springsteen could still put out albums full of great songs. Progressive rock bands still featured concept albums even into the present day; but there relative popuarity was quite meager, alhtough many of the albums of IQ, Marillion, Dream Theater or The Flower Kings are quite good, IMO.
 
Last edited:

criz p. critter

Silver Member
This reminds me of how, back when CDs were the latest and greatest way to buy music, I'd refer to an "album", and some younger person would correct me: "No, this is a CD, not an album". And I'd have to explain to them that albums weren't records.

No the album isn't dead, and I don't think it ever will die. The concept of the album has survived the changes in technology (records to CDs to mp3s) and evolved to the point where its meaning is less fixed (6 songs on each side of an LP) and now just means any kind of grouping anyone wants to create. Sure there is a market for buying single songs, but there always has been. Remember 7" singles, and even 78 rpm records before them? But that market has never threatened the album market: the two co-exist and complement each other. As long as people create songs, they will be creating groupings of songs, because when you do that you can create something more complex and interesting, with more levels, relations, contrasts. That's why people do it, and that's why they will always do it.

Then, on the "user side of the interface"... people will pick and choose from what's available, and decide what they want to listen to, and how. Just like they always have. Like everything else under the sun: it's the same old thing... just totally different.

One more thing: No one has mentioned the "shuffle" yet....
I used to be a purist that only wanted to hear the whole album, and had no interest in putting my cd changer on shuffle. Now in the days of the iPod, I gotta say the shuffle idea has totally won me over. I love the way it will bring up songs I haven't heard for a long time (I have a huge music collection going back to the 60s) and it'll be almost like hearing them for the first time. And I find myself re-evaluating a lot of songs, cuz I'm a different person now than I was even a few years ago. Plus it's often amusing, cool, or even downright spooky how the iPod will decide to shuffle/combine the music. I really enjoy doing the shuffle! But I still listen to complete albums. I'd say it's like 50/50 for me.
 

criz p. critter

Silver Member
The album is a creation of the record industry, designed to present music in the most profitable way possible for them given the technology of the day. It also evolved to be a great way to organize songs by themes, periods of time, stages of a group, present cool art and it became a cultural istrument for more than 50 years.

The album and the record industry are dinosaurs, though. I have a lot of them and I listen to them and I love them, but they long ago stopped being the dominant way of getting music out.
Maybe that's how/why the album was created, but certainly from the very beginning artists and groups embraced the idea of the album, and used it to their advantage to create timeless art, whether it was a "concept" album or just a great selection/grouping of songs.

Like I said just above, I don't think the album is dead: its meaning has just expanded and evolved. But the record industry certainly is a dinosaur. Just goes to show you can't control certain things in life. Music was always bigger than the companies that tried to control it. They held it down and squeezed it for decades, but now it's burst free!
 

evolving_machine

Silver Member
I listen to albums/ CDs as a whole, except when I want to hear a specific song. The album was a complete work of art that captured either what the artist wanted to release or a segment of time that showed what the artist was working on at the time.

I hate it when they add extra songs on a CD. They add a second take to a song, or an extra song that did not make it to the album that the artist wanted. It breaks up the continuity of the album. Yes, sometimes you get a new song not heard before, but that is rare.

You’re starting to see this now on older Rock and Roll CDs, but in Jazz they have been doing this for years. Although the better selling the album/ CD the less they do this.

They have been trying to just cram a full load of music on a CD and I have no idea what the purpose is.
 

Pavlos

Senior Member
I think the reason they add new songs to the CD versions of classic albums is because they know most of the true fans of that release already have it, and by adding more they can get the same hardcore fans to spend more money on it again. Kind of a sneaky trick.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I hate it when they add extra songs on a CD. They add a second take to a song, or an extra song that did not make it to the album that the artist wanted. It breaks up the continuity of the album. Yes, sometimes you get a new song not heard before, but that is rare.
.
Me too.

I have one where after the last song, suddenly you get the 4 track demo version.
Sounds like crap, and really pointless.

I have another old favorite, but on the CD version, after the last song, it keeps going with songs that didn't make the album, and wow, there is a reason the artist didn't put them on the album, because they blow! And it ruins the continuity of the CD.
 

Dedworx

Senior Member
Personally, I listen to full albums. From start to finish. With over 2000 CD's in my collection. Keeps me off the streets and out of trouble.
I would echo this, though my collection is a couple short of 600. When i buy new cds i listen to the whole thing a few times over.
 
B

Big_Philly

Guest
I listen mostly to mp3's from a large random playlist. But I have a bunch of CD's (though not nearly 2000 like harryconway or 600 like dedworks, I think I'm at about 50 ~ 60 albums) that I listen to regularly. When I do, I listen through the full album most of the time. Especially when it's a concept album, like Dream Theater's scenes from a memory, or Marillion's "Brave" or "Misplaced Childhood".
 
T

TheArchitect

Guest
Personally, I love full albums.

I love the sonic adventure of an album taking me through the highs and lows, peaks and valleys of the artists music. There is an art to putting together an album, which songs make it, which songs get left off, the order of the songs, the different moods the blend of songs can produce.

But that said, I think albums are near dead. With downloads, no one has to buy a full album anymore. You can buy as many or few songs from an album as you want. It's off from the album making stand point that you pay the same amount in studio time for every song, but the public only buys 1, 2 or 3 songs, leaving the other 7 to 9 songs not recouping the recording expense.

The ease of single downloads, Ipod play lists and so on are teaching younger listeners to focus on the songs, not albums. While audiophiles and big music fans still love the album, the next generation(s) of the buying public is just not focused on albums, and in 10 to 20 years, I could see most bands going back to the 50's-60's way of releasing singles without albums.
I can't see that. Labels can't make nearly as much selling a 99cent single as they can a 10-20 dollar album. The issue is that people seem to think making an album require 6-12 months and millions of dollars. If your a no talent hack that has to have the vocal built one syllable at a time maybe it does. On the other hand if you sign talented people thaey could record and mix an album in month for way less than 100k.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I can't see that. Labels can't make nearly as much selling a 99cent single as they can a 10-20 dollar album. The issue is that people seem to think making an album require 6-12 months and millions of dollars. If your a no talent hack that has to have the vocal built one syllable at a time maybe it does. On the other hand if you sign talented people thaey could record and mix an album in month for way less than 100k.
Of course, but the point is, that doesn't matter if no one is buying albums.

It doesn't cost as much to make one song as it does a full album. If an album doesn't turn a profit, but a single does, what is the label going to make?

Plenty of talented artists spend way more than $100K on an album, although I do often wonder why.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Reference the thread about Lars snare sound in stanger. its stupid crap and over-indulgences like 30 mics for the drums that make albums cost so much.
There is that.

And then you hear storied about Sheryl Crow, Steeley Dan, and others who hire 2 or 3 or more different drummers, have them all record the same songs, and then pick the drum track from there, and/or finish an album with one group of top players, but the re-do everything with a different set of top players just because they can.

Sure, different players will give the song different vibe, but if an artist can hire a Steve Jordan or a Simon Phillips, and then think, "nahh....I can't hang with that", then the issue is the artist, not the session musicians.

The last Axl Rose CD he put out with the Gun N Roses name takes the cake! So many different guys recorded parts for that album, driving the budget to something like $13 million dollars. For what?
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
I think that it's becoming more likely that the concept of an "album" will be dead. While there are many artists who are producing hit songs to sell and people are downloading songs one by one, there is still the factor of musicians growing up wanting to create that "album" like their favorite artists did before them.

I think it's a shame that the selling of mp3s is splitting up songs like "St. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help From My Friends" and "Heartbreaker/Livin' Lovin' Maid". I think an album should be made up of stand-alone songs to be released as singles (if the artist is going that direction) and songs that fit together, or even medley/flow together...to be decided by the artist and dictated by their record contract, if they have one. I like it when an album is cohesive and flows--not necessarily a concept album, but when you can tell that some thought was put behind the order/flow.

I sure hope the album doesn't die. I do shuffle occasionally, but I mostly listen to albums straight through.
 

brady

Platinum Member
I must say it is quite a relief to see so many people standing up for the album. I hate to see where the record industry is going...or may be going, even though it is sort of a full circle back to when artists just released singles. But why should we be forced to listen to whatever song the record industry wants us to hear? Like what CavGator said below, the released single may not always be the best track from the album.
For me, I have never downloaded a song from Itunes, and don't plan to. I own a few hundred CDs and would love to add another few hundred to the collection before I die. I love to buy the entire albums; I like having an actual product that has liner notes, pictures, gear info, etc. The album is also a representation of where a band is at at a particular time in their lives. I enjoy buying and listening to the entire abum and taking part in that journey with them. It will truly be a sad day for the music industry if the concept of an album goes away.
 

Anne Beeche

Senior Member
I normally put my big giant playlist on shuffle by the song, but recently I've taken to listening to music by the album. Some of these bands arrange their songs in such a sensible pattern (especially Rush) that I have to take the time to appreciate it. For example, the ocean waves at the end of Permanent Waves. It really ties the name together.

It's sad that the CD is already dying, and I'm so young I don't even have a big collection yet, just a lot of mp3s. Gah, I hate being young! Bring me back to the 60's!

I somehow get the feeling that album artwork will die out, too, along with the album. Shame, too, since some of it can be so interesting.
 

SOGdrummer

Senior Member
I often find that I buy an album for a certain song or two only to discover other tracks that I like more than the original track I wanted...

I DO miss the vinyl days including the covers listing the lyrics, the muscians on each track, the songwriters, etc.

That being said there are many times when I am listening to single tracks in a "shuffle" mode on an IPod...

A complete album is a great way for a band or artist to show some versatility...
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
This reminds me of how, back when CDs were the latest and greatest way to buy music, I'd refer to an "album", and some younger person would correct me: "No, this is a CD, not an album". And I'd have to explain to them that albums weren't records.
But of course CDs are records too, aren't they? There seems to be a big gap in the terminology for describing vinyl discs with grooves on just because for a long time that was all there was, so 'record' was enough. It's an interesting thought.

Great post by the way!
 

criz p. critter

Silver Member
But of course CDs are records too, aren't they? There seems to be a big gap in the terminology for describing vinyl discs with grooves on just because for a long time that was all there was, so 'record' was enough. It's an interesting thought.

Great post by the way!
Thanks. To me, records are vinyl, whether 78s, LPs, 7" singles, or even those flexi-discs you'd get in magazines. If it's got grooves, it's a record. CDs are recordings, but not records. Records, CDs, DVDs, and all kinds of tape are various mediums, whereas album and single refer to the way the track(s) are arranged, and can be applied to any of the mediums.
 
Top