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The Death of the Album

Roger misses the magic and Paul soothes the savage beast

 

Roger:  It kind of seems like we’re witnessing the demise of the album.  Over time, as more and more of the ability for personalized playlists become available, you know – you can get like 40k songs for .08¢!   With that kind of thing happening, it is harder to promote a record.  Even when you put 10 songs together, you still have to promote them all individually because it seems like people don’t take the time or have the time to sit and dig all the way into a list, it’s automatic gratification – hit play on one song and say ‘that’s cool’ and download it, then throw it onto a playlist on your iPod, or phone – whatever the case may be. 

It’s hard to say what the outcome will be because if you put 10 or more songs on a list, it seems like people never get to the end of the list so they don’t really get that old curiosity.  In the past, you promoted a single, sometimes 2 or 3, to get people interested in what you’re working on and they would go in and dig into the old school B side.  That would create conversation, you know people would say, ‘Hey did you listen to this song?’ Then after those song(s) get, hopefully, more and more popular, you would release that as a single and it would kind of keep things in motion.

Now, the question is do you still produce full albums knowing that whatever you put towards the end of the list will probably never get any attention, so do you release 3 at a time? 5 at a time? The conundrum with that is when you are working on a record, as you write the first few songs and you start developing it, it creates a sound for that album, a direction.  If you are only going to release half the record at a time, you ‘re no longer really get that cohesion. 

What’s kind of humorous to me is that people will go on and download 10 singles in mp3 format and say, ‘Hey I got the record and it didn’t cost as much’, and in the end it still cost as much as it would for the physical product, but it’s not going to have that finality that a finished album does, or that bigger sound an album has since the internet compresses the music.  It’s like the convenience of it has taken away some of the magic.  You kind of want to hope that people will start coming back around and get tired of the insanity of endless compilations of different material, and instead have that relaxing time to just sit down and listen to a whole album, experience the whole thing start to finish.

 

Paul:  Was there ever a record, an LP if you will, that you had to listen to from side A to side B, where all the songs related to each other, and there was a flow of consciousness? Then came the cassette where you could flip it over and hear all the songs in order, and finally the CD where you just pop it in and all the songs are represented in the order the artist wanted them to be to create the experience. That was an album to me, and it is rapidly becoming a lost art.

Streaming and individual downloads have now taken over giving the listener the power of how they want to experience song play lists and mix tapes created on home burnt cd’s, that hand the audience the canvas and brushes to create their own works of art.

It’s a digital world we live in. It gives the power to the consumer, and I guess it was inevitable that this would happen. We can now choose who we listen to with a couple of keystrokes, when we watch a show or movie on multiple platforms, just about all entertainment can be watched or listened to on hand held devices, at our own leisure. The genie is out of the bottle, and there’s no going back.

But still there are those audiophiles who want to experience the work in its original form, so the album is not dead. Perhaps it is a bit corrupted sometimes, but then beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I can’t blame the public for wanting to have this power, I only hope they are not in some way hacking in and stealing the works that so many musicians put their heart and soul into.

Over the last few years some artists are even returning to vinyl for those of us who still have a turntable to play them on, bravo, but the process has become costlier. Technology has given us convenience. I don’t have a problem with that at all. I enjoy having my iPhone connected by Bluetooth to my sound system in my car. I can make play lists that suit my tastes, something nice about being able to jump from miles Davis to Robert Johnson, so in a sense I’m as guilty as the next guy for not just playing the uploaded albums in my library in their entirety.

Enjoy music my friends, it will soothe the savage beast in us all.