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Opinion: The future of albums

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 05:01 AM

Post your comments for Opinion: The future of albums here
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#2 User is offline   lordPatton 

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  Posted 17 January 2012 - 05:11 AM

Are recording contracts still written in terms of albums delivered?
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#3 User is offline   StanOrchard 

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  Posted 17 January 2012 - 05:23 AM

If the term 'album' is going away, when will the term 'labels' do the same?
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#4 User is offline   renaultssoftware 

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  Posted 17 January 2012 - 05:39 AM

I still buy CDs. While iTunes is practical for those who like widely-available music, I'm into obscure stuff that just isn't available for legal download.
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#5 User is offline   edcculus 

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  Posted 17 January 2012 - 06:06 AM

I think you missed the very important era of when radio became prevalent and the single was the name of the game. Radio was the easiest way for people to consume music, and wide ranging concept albums were just not possible. As the price of record players went down and almost everyone had one in their home, artists like the ones you mentioned above were able to expand and break away from the 3 minute radio friendly single. The Who, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd took the opportunity to expand and make the concept album what it is today.

Now, we consume music in an entirely different fashion. Most (not all) artists today, especially pop artists arent writing their own music. People dont want to buy an entire album for $10-$20 just for the 3 songs they like. They would much rather go to iTunes or similar digital music store and spend a few bucks on the songs they want. In addition, a lot of the albums being produced today ARENT concept albums, so breaking them up into single songs isn't really that bad. An album from a modern band like The Decemberists needs to be taken as a whole, while a Chris Brown album doesn't.

I think its the artists and producers who are in some cases wrongly hanging onto a format that in most cases people don't care for. People are going to consume media in the way they want. Its up to the record companies and labels to listen.
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#6 User is offline   j1h15233 

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  Posted 17 January 2012 - 06:08 AM

I haven't bought a CD or anything close to entire album in 8 years now. Nothing is going to change my mind now.
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#7 User is offline   salpjs 

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  Posted 17 January 2012 - 06:27 AM

Albums as they exist now will not go away. They will always remain relevant. Artists will still need to go into the studio and create a collection or album of new songs that they are creating for sale to the public. In earlier times an album by Sinatra , Elvis, Bing Crosby etc was a collection of their current songs made available to their audience and fans. A single sold the artist's song on the radio as a"hit". If you liked it you bought the single and its flip side. If you were a fan, you wanted more of your favorite performer so you bought the album of songs to get more of the artist for your personal consumption. When bands like the Beatles, The Who, performers like Dylan and many Jazz musicians became singer/performer/songwriters the paradigm shifted. They were creating whole collections as a concept, something that Sinatra had pioneered in the fifties with Nelson Riddle. Audiences became used to hearing their favorites newest works and judging them as entire entities. You would hear critics and fans alike describe albums as masterpieces or " a great album but with some inferior tracks". We eagerly awaited each album release by your favorite artist to see"what they were up to, into or where they were headed now. So, while sales of singles has increased and while audiences are purchasing more individual songs the artists perspective has not changed. Yes, they may still be looking for a top 40 hit as before but their need to offer their true fans the opportunity to "consume" more of their output is as relevant as ever. In fact, the album is even more needed as artists now need to get as many tracks out there as possible to increase their chances of individual song sales.Hence, the need for albums. True fans will buy everything their favorite artist releases. They will continue to support the collection or album concept and also inform their friends of the need to get the whole album especially when it is a concept. If you look at Green Day as an example, you can see where many people might be enthralled by one or two of the songs on American Idiot because of heavy airplay or music videos but the band and the true fans will extoll the virtues of the complete concept. A chapter in Dickens or a speech from Shakespeare may be well know and respected but will only be totally appreciated if you read the whole book or see the whole play. So it will continue for concept albums. Finally, audiences may continue to choose to purchase individual songs but the album will still be the means by which an artist entices that audience to buy more of their individual songs. Where once we might have bought three albums by three bands, people may now buy 36 separate songs. It is the artists' need to have their songs be as large a percentage of those 36 songs as possible and the album will remain the means to that end.
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#8 User is offline   rkhigham 

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  Posted 17 January 2012 - 07:21 AM

I seem to remember that Sony designed the CD (around 1979 in conjunction with Philips) to be able to hold 80 minutes worth of music specifically so that Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony could fit on it
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#9 User is offline   kirkmc 

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 07:45 AM

View Postrkhigham, on 17 January 2012 - 07:21 AM, said:

I seem to remember that Sony designed the CD (around 1979 in conjunction with Philips) to be able to hold 80 minutes worth of music specifically so that Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony could fit on it


It was actually 74 minutes, and that was one reason for the length (even though different versions of that symphony may be shorter or longer). 80-minute CDs were introduced much later.
Macworld Senior Contributor - Macworld's iTunes Guy - Editor of Mac OS X Hints
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#10 User is offline   bastion 

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 07:47 AM

View Postrkhigham, on 17 January 2012 - 07:21 AM, said:

I seem to remember that Sony designed the CD (around 1979 in conjunction with Philips) to be able to hold 80 minutes worth of music specifically so that Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony could fit on it


It's actually 74 minutes, but you got the rationale right. It was for a specific performance.
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#11 User is offline   jhall1343 

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  Posted 17 January 2012 - 07:51 AM

while i don't think albums will die completely, most of the damage was done by album itself. While many "concept" albums are worth it, most are just a collection of songs having little if any relationship to each other many were mediocre. Before we were stuck buying album for 1 good song, now we can just get the good song. If they wan to sell an album rather than a song give us a reason other than greed of record company.
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#12 User is offline   k88dad 

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 08:31 AM

View Postrenaultssoftware, on 17 January 2012 - 05:39 AM, said:

I still buy CDs. While iTunes is practical for those who like widely-available music, I'm into obscure stuff that just isn't available for legal download.

Modern technology has made it feasible for most any artist to offer digital downloads on their own website. Many artists offer both lossless and compressed (MP3) versions for sale. Fans of these artists will gladly download directly from the artist's site. They know that the artist gets more of the profit.

Optical media will be around for a long time, but there are few arguments left in its favor. Hard disks and offsite storage are as cheap as they've ever been. I can back up my downloads easily and securely. I have a minimum of three copies of anything that I download. For music, there is often a fourth copy on an iPod.
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#13 User is offline   pawhite524 

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  Posted 17 January 2012 - 08:55 AM

Great article and I am blown away by the comments. I learned some good stuff as this piece gives a history of my music loving days of the 50's to the present.
Kudos to Kirk and all those who wrote in...
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#14 User is offline   quakerotis 

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 09:12 AM

View Postjhall1343, on 17 January 2012 - 07:51 AM, said:

while i don't think albums will die completely, most of the damage was done by album itself. While many "concept" albums are worth it, most are just a collection of songs having little if any relationship to each other many were mediocre. Before we were stuck buying album for 1 good song, now we can just get the good song. If they wan to sell an album rather than a song give us a reason other than greed of record company.

21st Century pop music killed the album. Albums historically could contain several unifying songs, a collection of tracks the artist wanted to release together, or a collection of inferior tracks surrounding a hit. Even Beatle albums from the sixties exhibited this, as the English and American versions were often dissimilar.

In this era music companiesdon't grant the indulgences of producing albums when the modu operandi is tho release the latest pop concoction to captialize on a fickle public's taste.
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