Seven Reasons That the Album May Be Dead (Or at Least Dying)

When Columbia Records introduced the 12-inch 33 1/3 RPM long-playing microgroove record in June of 1948, it set in motion a practice where artists began releasing collections of songs instead of individual tracks. At first, LPs were reserved for “serious” and “good” music like classical, jazz and Broadway show tunes. But by the time we got to 1965, rock’n’roll artists began to embrace the format. For the next half-century, music fans were trained to buy high-margin albums, resulting in an endless river of money for the industry.

But then came file-sharing, which allowed for total a la carte selection. That led to iTunes in 2001, which completely dismembered the album. From that point on, consumers were free to access just songs instead of being forced to buy these often carefully-curated and composed collections of musical art. With streaming–well, it’s all about the song, the single. Album tracks get almost no traction at all.

So is the album dead? Maybe not yet, but it’s not feeling particularly well. Here are seven reasons why some people believe that we’re about to enter a post-album era.

With sales at an all-time low and Fergie trying to mount a comeback with a visual album experience similar to Beyoncé’s “Lemonade,” while major pop rock act One Republic announced earlier this year they’re only churning out singles from now on, TooFab turned to a variety of music biz experts to weigh in on that question, and the answer was unanimously, “Yes.”

“I just don’t think consumers care about the album anymore,” Evan Lipschutz, vice president of A&R at Warner/Chappell Music, told TooFab. “I think [artists] are making visual albums when they want to do something truly artistic versus just make songs for quick consumption. I think that’s more of a way to set music apart so people actually buy it.”

It remains to be seen if Fergie’s fans will gobble up Friday’s new release, “Double Dutchess: Seeing Double,” the way Beyoncé fans did “Lemonade,” but Lipschutz and two other industry insiders have seen enough evidence to declare the album, as we’ve known it, is a dying product. Here are seven reasons why.

Keep reading.

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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