Is the concept of the album dead? Maybe not.

There’s concern in some quarters that the idea of releasing an album is passé, that the format has been superseded by playlists of individual songs. The decline of album listening is another byproduct of the rise of streaming.

However, all may not be lost.

An industry event in London last night (October 10) saw a vigorous defense of releasing albums and how things could change in the future. The full report can be found here, but let me give you some top-line info.

Serialization: The idea that albums can be “chapterized,” with all songs dripped out in the order in which they’ll eventually appear when the whole album is released. This would also give artists a chance to evaluate reaction to each song and perhaps tweak them before being collected in permanent form on an album.

Stretching: Drip out the singles ahead of time but then offer longer versions of those songs when the album drops. And because of streaming, there’s no time limit on how long a song or an album can be.

People still like listening to albums the old-fashioned way: Spotify reports that 46% of users in the UK listen to non-album tracks. Some five million users access album pages every week.

Maybe the album format still has a role to play. We’ll see.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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