The album is dead (or at least dying). Best get used to it.
As the currency of the realm, the album caught a cold the original Napster made it possible to just grab the songs you wanted without having to pay for a full record. That cold turned into bronchitis when Steve Jobs convinced the recording industry to offer a la carte selection on iTunes. And with streaming, we’re dealing with a fatal case of pneumonia.
The album had grown from a collection of songs and performances into a retail event, a reason for artists to record a bunch of songs for simultaneous release. Labels loved the high margins. Fans thought they were getting a good deal. Many performers used the length of an album to may coherent artistic statements. Albums became the foundation of everything from record stores to FM radio.
Now, though, we’re back to the days (pre-1965-ish) where the song rules. It’s all about singles,
Forbes takes a look at the current state of the album.
To many music artists and bands, making an album has always been the epitome of their art. This group of songs was a statement to their voice and current state of mind, not to mention a reflection of their social and physical environment. It was thought to be the highest form of recorded experience the artist could offer. It wasn’t always that way though, and for the most part, it’s not like that now. The trouble is, too many artists fail to recognize that the album is quickly becoming a relic of the past and even detrimental to their success.
We live in a singles world today. No longer does anyone consistently sit down for 40 or 50 consecutive minutes to listen to an album from front to back like they used to. In our portable music society today where streaming music from Spotify or Apple Music is the king, there’s no reason to be tied to the music playback system or to listen to songs that we don’t care to listen to. If that’s the case, why should an artist even bother to spend the months it takes to create an album? It’s not like people are consuming them in any great numbers, and the costs involved can sometimes put both the artist and record label in financial jeopardy.