MUSIC FEATURE: Death of The Album?

There is a massive problem happening at the moment in the world of music and it is artists such as Ariana Grande that are leading the revolution. Radio stations are starting to have a problem as to what to play on their music rotation because artists are releasing more singles within a shorter timeframe – sometimes even once a week.

For example, the other week in America R’n’B artist Cardi B had three singles in the top three as well as a collaboration with Bruno Mars in the charts meaning it was difficult for Radio Stations to choose what songs to play and spread out the artists songs evenly. Is the saturation of single releases ruining the world of music and leading albums to disappear?

This is a strong debate that is happening at the moment in the music industry and if you look at online streaming services such as Spotify you will notice in the playlists that are all about new weekly releases, that there are a lot of singles by the same artists.

2019 seems to be the year that is shifting the world of Music into a new era with the classic album potentially being at threat.  Due to the increase and demand that the world of digital is creating, it is starting to impact the consumer and is leading us to be more impatient and hungry for new content quicker.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stones magazine Nathan Graham, a programme Director of the Philadelphia Radio Station WTDY explained that it used to be the case that they would have one single by an artist for three months but now artists like Ariana are releasing a new single every Thursday and revolutionizing the world of pop radio and causing a problem.

In a 2016 Music Biz consumer report, it states that Playlists have now ‘surpassed albums as a format’  with a higher percentage of people listening to either playlists or single tracks. Only 22% of people choose to listen to albums over these new formats.

However if you look at the music industry there are many artists that now do not just make an album but also call it something else to either attract fans or to get more of a following. For example, Beyonce created a visual album which was like a long film / music video and artists such as Drake now release playlists instead of using the term album.

Whilst albums may bring musical limitations of only being confined to maybe 10 or 12 songs this shouldn’t be looked at as a bad thing instead, if you look at the world that we live in today, the album is a place where an artists really can release their creativity and lock onto something genius and different .

The music industry is adapting to the new ways that we listen to music, and there are still artists that believe albums have a reason to exist and still deserve a place in the market.

Josh Ramsay, Singer and songwriter of the Canadian band Marianas Trench recently stated:

“I think we are going to see more artists releasing singles and not really doing albums anymore…but that doesn’t really inspire me.”

You only need to look at Marianas Trench latest album to really understand the benefits of having an album release instead of just singles. The one thing that is great about this band is that, as I have said time and time again on this site, listening to their album is not just like listening to songs in a row, it is more like a cinematic experience that takes you on a journey.

For example in their newest album Phantoms which was released digitally this year (and on album in the UK on the 19th April) you need to listen to the album in whole to really feel captivated by the self-contained universe that has been produced about a house possessed by the spirit of lingering loss and inhabited by somebody who has been driven to madness by the ghost of a former love. If you just listen to the songs separately the narrative that has been formed is totally lost and loses the magic of what this album has created.

If there was not an album for  all of these creative ideas to be produced then the narrative of the songs would be lost in single releases and surely that ideology would lose the sense of what music can do?

When I go onto media streaming services and I see that a band is releasing single by single, I see it as a sign that an album is on it’s way and when I find that out for certain, I refuse (as hard as it is) to listen to any of the songs they are releasing on these playlists until it is part of an actual album. I feel that the music experience is damaged if you do not listen to the whole album in it’s entirety the first time you listen to a song.

Growing up, my favourite thing to do was to go to the record store and buy a new album and then get lost that Saturday in my headphones listening to all the songs.I will never forget the first Simple Plan album I bought – I had no idea who they were, all I knew was that Mark Hoppus from Blink-182 was on one of the songs and bought it.

I didn’t have internet at home when I was a kid so I completely did this on a whim because of Mark Hoppus. I put so much trust in it having one song with a member of Blink-182 and I remember my excitement of listening to Simple Plan for the first time and the magic of waiting to hear what the next song was going to be. From then on I promised to listen to albums in their entirety even if i had not heard of the band as you get a much better perspective of the as an artist.

Whilst the world of singles and mass track releases are taking over the world of music, I do not believe that it is going to kill the album. Whilst the single is a good way for new listeners to find new music, I personally feel that is does not give you a true perspective of a band, it does not allow you into their world.

What do you think? Let us Know! 

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