Are albums relevant anymore?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Che_Guitarra, Feb 19, 2015.

  1. Che_Guitarra

    Che_Guitarra Member

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    It seems to me that albums (per-se) could be viewed as a wonderful solution that ever-so-neatly played to format restrictions of the era. So much so that albums are often described in terms of a singular body of work, as opposed to a collection of songs contained on the same format medium. So much so that releasing an album is just what you do as an artist - you don't question it - it's the cultural norm.... every X amount of months/years, release X amount of songs in a singular batch under the semantic guise of an album.

    But just how relevant is the concept and format of an album in 2015? An age where you can listen to any album or song ever released - anyplace, anytime (thanks to the magic plastic rectangle in your pocket). An age where magazines, newspapers and radio are increasingly irrelevant information portals - where the instantaneousness information supply of the internet is all encompassing and almighty. And an age where there is no cost/time benefit/restriction as to releasing an album as opposed to single after single as each song is created.

    What is the future of the album? In an age where single sales have come to dominate the musical landscape, is the album a relevant concept anymore?
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2015
  2. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    There were albums in Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra days but I think early Rock and Roll and early Beatles were very single orientated and then Brian Wilson and the Beatles extended their musical vision out to the album format with Pet Sounds and the Beatles with Sgt Pepper, and then bands like Floyd and Led Zep were using an album concept format influenced by the Beatles but singles were still going strong in the pop world, but that album concept stuff is so over that it means hardly anything today.
     
  3. TravisE

    TravisE Supporting Member

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    Good question. A question which I don't know if there's a definitive answer. Not if you truly asked the folks that are buying music. I know, we all love music and buy it but I'm talking teens, tweens, early 20's. I'm 35 and I still adore the idea of listening to an album. I freakin' hate that every time I get in the car, my wife puts whichever of our devices on 'shuffle'.

    That said, I'll bet the answer that you would get from the primary music buying community (again, the yungins) would be different.

    I think, if I have to give an answer, that the relevance of the "album" will depend a lot on the genre of music. The latest pop or hip hop tunes will likely do better in single format whiile the new record by whatever throwback rock band will do better as an album. I'll put my magic 8 ball away now.
     
  4. JPF

    JPF Member

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    Album releases were events back in the day. They were how you found out what your favorite musicians and groups were thinking, what their life experiences were and how they changed their outlook, and how their musical rules are evolving. Granted, we had the occasional Rolling Stone article or interview to fill the gaps, but albums (or at least, those from musicians with something to say...) were oftentimes statements that broached big picture issues for many of us coming of age.

    I don't see how a blizzard of Facebook likes and a gaggle of pilfered YouTube moments can stack up to those heady days, but then I suppose I'm getting long in the tooth and somewhat nostalgic...
     
  5. Ferret

    Ferret Supporting Member

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    Relevant to who? The OP suggested that they may no longer be relevant to the audience. To singles-oriented folk in the 50s to 80s (roughly) they weren't relevant back then. There was the occasional album track you might want which you taped or you made an exception and bought the album. Some vintage soul collectors are 'singles only' folk.

    It was really only in the 70s that bands consistently started thinking mainly (or only) in terms of albums. Jazz and classical music were different—there was no singles market to speak of and, for classical music in particular, even albums weren't long enough to allow for uninterrupted listening to many single works.

    Albums (of some sort) will continue to be important to artists with more to say than singles can conveniently contain. If you, and many others, like a band enough to want to hear more than just the occasional song, there must be a medium that accommodates you. Surely, too, there will be bands with more to say than singles permit. Jazz, presumably, will continue to be marketed in bigger chunks. So those fans and bands will just do whatever jazz folk are doing.

    Maybe there will be more variety in the length of longer works. Works ranging from EPs through extended EPs to old LP length on up to 80 minute blockbusters could all be marketed and priced appropriately in some medium or another.

    Perhaps pop artists will no longer release LPs or longer works of any kind and perhaps the 'greatest hits' collections will no longer be needed. But, for everyone else except for the most casual and callow consumers, something about the length of an old LP will still be the most satisfying way to release and consume new music. If fans still go to concerts, then surely they will want something like concert length presentation of their favourite band's music.
     
  6. Phletch

    Phletch Member

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    I have albums. They're relevant to me. Whether or not albums are relevant to anybody else or the muzik bizniss in general...probably not. Can't say that I care either.
     
  7. dmr34

    dmr34 Member

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    good question. i have a teenager. the notion of buying/downloading an album would not occur to her. its all about the songs.
     
  8. taez555

    taez555 Member

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    Are 3 hour long movies still relevant now that we have 22 minute TV shows?
     
  9. JPF

    JPF Member

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    In the age of entitlement, having to get up and flip an LP over to hear the second half of the musical unit is all but unthinkable....
     
  10. s2y

    s2y Member

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    I'm perfectly fine with ordering entire albums if I like a majority of it. If not, I get to pick and choose. I finally picked up the first 2 Johnny A. albums and there was no question that I was ordering the full album and listening to the full album. :dude
     
  11. Che_Guitarra

    Che_Guitarra Member

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    I guess a comparable analogy would be do you remember the Superbowl, or do you remember the ads in between... the ads being the catchy singles, the Superbowl being the whole album. I'm not trying to insinuate there's a right and a wrong way, but first and foremost an artist needs to service their fan base (for maximum return), and the digital era has dissipated all the boundaries and rules held as standard for the last 50 years. So how long until we see the cultural norm of 'album' dissipate also? There are no rules when it comes to art, only the ones we subscribe to.

    By that rationale, why don't we don't respond to threads/topics like this via typewriters, envelopes and letterbox mail. Where do we draw the line between format nostalgia and musical evolution?

    In terms of entitlement, well, that's a topic for another thread. Life experience tells me entitled parents spawn entitled children. It's a learned behaviour, not a pandemic behaviour. But let's keep things on track, i'm curious what the TGP forecast of the traditional album format is.
     
  12. 8raw

    8raw Member

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    Interesting thought process.

    This is like the debate about the artist versus the money. Is an album a complete thought, or is it just a collection of singles? There are both kinds.

    I think people will want more than just a 4 minute song, for music or musicians that matter to them. For people that just listen to music during spin class or as background music, well, they are probably using Pandora anyway. Plus, an album is sort of like hearing a set performed by the artist. A well crafted album has the necessary components of a good set. One song is just a catchy little jingle, in comparison. Although having said that, I used to play the Miller beer jingle right before our break. "When it's time to relax, one beer stands clear...." but hey I played it like I meant it.
     
  13. NorCal_Val

    NorCal_Val Member

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    Do I want a sketch by an artist, or a full work?
     
  14. Bunky

    Bunky Member

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    i usually only buy an album if i think the entire album is going to be good.

    I don't buy new music. hahahah
     
  15. xrleroyx

    xrleroyx Member

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    I was wondering when the token millennial basher would post here.

    Albums are very relevant to certain styled of music as have been stated here.

    LP sales are the highest they've been in 2 decades. I buy LPs because I like physical media. They come with cool stuff and I like the album artwork. You usually get a digital download code with it.
     
  16. s2y

    s2y Member

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    I wonder how much non-millennials are spending on music these days.
     
  17. EricPeterson

    EricPeterson Member

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    lol, okay, you are welcome for your social security check and medicare ;)
     
  18. tiktok

    tiktok Supporting Member

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    Listening to just singles is like living on a diet of cupcakes. You can do it, and everyone likes cupcakes, but...
     
  19. Jerrod

    Jerrod Silver Supporting Member

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    hahahah
     
  20. splatt

    splatt david torn / splattercell Gold Supporting Member

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    as far "albums" offering the goal of being an integrated piece of work, it's definitely maintained its relevance for me.
    i'm not usually offering random, un-themed collections of 3-4-minute-long songs, though, nor do i tend to purchase those products as albums.
     

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