Is the age of the album at an end?

You Tube focuses on making single songs available. To a lesser extent, other streaming services do that as well - I think you can play an album on Spotify - but it doesn’t happen without a more specific request. I’m not sure this is a good development for music. Albums often have the individual songs put in a specific order with great care to create a flow, or possibly even tell a story. That flow is lost when the tracks are only listened to individually. The other thing about albums is the “deep cuts” songs that don’t jump out at you the first time you hear them, but as you play the album over again to hear the songs that initially drew you in, you appreciate those deep cuts more. As a song writer, if I think folks are going to listen to my entire album, I’m not tempted to try to squeeze too much into any one song. What do others think - is there an upside to the streaming singles approach to music listening I haven’t considered? (By the way, I still release my songs in CD format (10 - 14 songs each) even though fewer people have a CD player in their car. Besides, without an actual CD where do you put the liner notes!)

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I think the only logical answer is to use a single to draw people to your album.
You need to identify one of your trademark compositions as a part of a complete work to draw interest.
We have to face the fact that we are Muzak to most people; what we consider as art is a way to get through 8 hours of drudgery for most people. If you have a cohesive idea for a full collection of compositions the first thing you present has to capture the idea of the entire work. Even then, you are presenting filet mignon to a hamburger audience that has their choice of thousands of hamburger variants.
Emphasize your main idea in your first release and hope for the best.

I have to think about this.
You might be right, artists are going for their best sellers nowadays.
Bit I think, giving the supporters the best deal still is the way to go.

You can buy songs on youtube? Or are you referring to youtube premium? I have not heard of releasing a single for purchase on youtube, unless I missed something. Youtube is a blackbox for musicians currently. It helps in building a casual fanbase, but to monetize your songs on youtube is very hard for new musicians.

In a general sense a lot of artists are going the EP route.
Though I still like CDs and like to have a bigger collection (14-20) compositions before I release an album, and as you mentioned, I like to have them in a particular order. Though only CDs I have sold were at events, weddings, and dance studios. I collaborated with some Yoga and dance studios and sold quite a few CDs there. It was doing quite well till covid ended the streak.

I still think there is an upside to releasing EPs and Albums over singles.

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The Single vs. Album strategy has been around a long time, obviously. I remember buying 45 RPM phonograph Single’s (small) phonograph records as a kid. Later, I got into AOR (album-oriented Rock) and deeper appreciation of specific artists’ deep cuts rather than radio-centric hit songs.

I think it depends on what kind of music you are making, and how your audience is likely to consume it. I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “squeeze too much into any one song”, as each song should stand on its’ own shouldn’t it? Historically, the decision on the hit Single(s) usually fell at the end of the album cycle close to - or after - the release of the album. Stage One is write a bunch of songs and start recording them; Stage Two is gravitating to the songs with the most promise in the recording process and saving/weeding the others (if you have excess); Stage Three is finalizing recording/mixing and then see what you have - what will make the album and what hit Singles there might be. This is just one approach, of course, based on the music industry some decades ago.

Then there’s the album ordering of songs, as you talked about. I think there’s an art to that, and some of my favorite albums are those where all the songs are good and flow from one to the other nicely. With the advent of iPod’s and playlists though, the listeners can do all this themselves based on their tastes.

Bandcamp comes to mind, where you can post your songs in the album order, and IIRC, sell single MP3’s of songs or the whole album of MP3’s for download. So people can listen and buy in the same place.

Depending on whether your goal is to get people to listen to your music mostly (for ego gratification), or to concentrate more on sales, should drive some of this decision making IMO. What do you want … what do your listeners want … and then what helps bring the two together? :thinking:

As to the thread Title question, which I probably didn’t answer because I don’t know :slightly_smiling_face:, I think the age of the album has changed over time, but probably hasn’t completely died out. And keep in mind that new generations are discovering the old (and best) music and buying that still, last I checked. It gave me hope that young people were learning and playing songs from the 70’s and 80’s. Whether they’re buying that mainly by digital downloads, or CD’s, or vinyl, I don’t know.

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This is why I like listening to EP. More thematic than most full length albums being put out today.

I’ll just say “I hope not.” I grew up listening to entire albums of material. Recently I thought about it and realized that I was missing the experience because I was cherry-picking the songs I wanted to hear at the moment. Mindlessly skipping from one familiar track to the next. After thinking about it for a minute I realized that I hadn’t listened to an entire album or CD in quite a while. I had three new CD’s sitting on my desk: Haken - The Mountain, Khemmis - Deceiver, and Borknagar - True North. I made it a point to listen to each of them from start to finish that weekend and each told a story and created a mood.

Sometimes the ‘deep cuts’ are fantastic… sometimes not… but you get a better understanding about what you like or dislike about an artist listening to a whole album (or at least an EP). Does the artist speak to you on a deeper level… or is it just one track that you really connect with? I’ll still do some cherry-picking, but I’m making it a point to listen to entire albums more often.

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Sometimes songs just work better in context with other ones. They might never work in the minute playtime of a hit song played on the radio, but worked in with other pieces you might notice a more nuanced emotion in the mix.

Of course I also like to listen to bands play a concert too, because sometimes a song got beaten to death on the album, or was just okay for the pressing, but the band got a different feel for it when playing live.

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Well Taylor Swift just released an album and she talks about it as an album. In fact she released two different versions of the album because she had different intentions for each. So clearly not dead yet.

I didn’t explain this well – I am thinking of overuse of devices a song writer can use such as:

• second time through the chorus adding a harmony, or shifting the vocal up an octave;
• going up a semi-tone after the first or second verse
• starting the song with a dry vocal, then adding reverb and echo for the chorus vocal
• setting the bridge in the related minor key (e.g. song in key of G, bridge in E minor)
• or the all time favourite – starting the song (typically a ballad) with just a guitar or piano and vocal, then adding bass and drums, then a string quartet, more strings … and by the end of the song you have the Vienna Philharmonic, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Gabriel’s trumpets all playing.
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Good point - I’d be curious to know of the money she earns from the songs how much comes from sales of the album (physical CD and download) compared with sales of singles (downloads). I am thinking her fans are devoted enough to want the whole album.

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Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for the clarification. Kind of like dumping out the whole toolbox when you only need the hammer and screwdriver?

I love the 70s concept albums.

Listening to “good musicianship” and being taken for a journey in your mind’s eye is a wonderful experience.

If you release a scope of work and tied it all together thematically, the term concept album would definitely prompt me to listen to it and purchase it for my private collection.

You would be in good company too with Alan Parsons, Yes, Genesis, and the Pinkest of Floyds!


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My understanding is that she is re-doing a bunch of her albums and I think it has something to do with the labels and ownership of the songs?

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Ownership of the master recordings.

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As it happens, Salem UK’s new album seems to be heading down the concept route. We didn’t plan it that way; it’s just developed as a seemingly natural progression.

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That’s right! I knew someone here would know :slight_smile: