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The Album May Be in Trouble

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Nov 14, 2018.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Tim Ingham, writing at Rolling Stone, makes the argument that the LP as we know it, is in trouble:

    Sure, hits on streaming services make a lot of people a lot of money. But as the death knell rings for the album — and the music industry returns to the pre-Beatles era of track-led consumption — are fans being encouraged to develop a less-committed relationship with new artists? […]

    The music industry is facing a bit of an existential crisis, then: How can something (streaming) be considered the “equivalent” of something else (an album sale) when, by your own measure, the former now completely dominates the latter?

    In 2018, “streaming-equivalent albums” seems like daft phrasing. It is e-mail-equivalent faxes. It is car-equivalent steeds. It is Netflix-equivalent Betamax.

  2. irthesteve

    formerly irthesteve Prestigious

  3. Piercalicious

    Regular Supporter

    I think this article sort of side-steps the why of these equivalent-album calculations. I agree that they don't make sense in today's market in an abstract sense, but the reason there has been such an emphasis on getting streaming calculations to correlate to album sales is because there are thousands of industry agreements negotiated during the album sales era which have benchmarks that are pegged to those album sale numbers. The transaction cost involved in re-negotiating each of those agreements with all of the various parties involved is far too high compared to the fix they came up with, which was to negotiate a streaming-equivalent calculation that maps to all of those existing agreements.
  4. Phil507

    Trusted Supporter

    We've been having think pieces like this for 15 + years at this point. Even with the increase in streaming, tossing off random songs will add to the clutter. Albums add some organization to new releases and also allow for a higher level of excitement from true fans. The big songs will still be streemed just as much.
  5. Ska Senanake


    Doubt it
    Raku likes this.
  6. CyberInferno

    Line below my username Supporter

    I agree with this. It's like saying the dollar no longer has value because it's not backed by a gold standard anymore. We still call it a dollar. It's still viewed the same way.

    My other issue with this article is they're only looking at mega-stars who have huge "radio" (including Pandora and the like) hits. Yeah, those artists are going to see a huge inflation of their plays come from their hits. But what about the majority of the bands that are featured on this site? I know I'm probably atypical of the normal music streamer in 2018, but when a new album comes out that I've been anticipating, I stream that on a loop for a little while until my squirrel mind jumps on something else. If a single song is released, I listen to it a few times then wait until something more is released. I undoubtedly listen to a full album more times than I would individual tracks which means I'm streaming more of the artist's music.
  7. torres


    If every other artist in the world gives up on putting out albums, I'll still put one out!
    teebs41, Raku and bradsonemanband like this.
  8. I'd love to see a world where "albums" became a storytelling vehicle, instead of the gold standard. So they can be exactly as long as you need them to be to tell the story you're trying to tell. Then again, that mostly speaks to the kind of songwriter I am personally and I in no way shape or form expect everyone to agree with that take.
  9. AllenRicketts


    I still buy music and that's the hill I'll die on.
  10. heymattrick

    Denver, CO

    Nothing beats listening to an album front to back. I feel like most of my favorite artists continue to put out (and value putting out) a cohesive body of work, vs. just a batch of songs. I’m grateful for that, because albums mean a lot to me.
  11. josh-

    Twitter: @joshcaraballin

    This will never happen in the rock world. The rap world sure.
    heymattrick and Davjs like this.
  12. Davjs


    I knew this was coming at some point, but I'll still support it for as long as it exists.
  13. KyleK

    Let's get these people moving faster! Supporter

    Seconded. I get that plenty of other people listen to music differently, but I almost exclusively listen to albums still, aside from when I make themed party playlists.
  14. Phil507

    Trusted Supporter

    I do too but I understand that's not the way the majority consume music these days. For example, while running errands the other weekend, I listened to RHCP's entire Stadium Arcadium double album (2 hours). Not many people have that sort of patience or interest level these days.
  15. rock music is dead too
    Jason Tate and heymattrick like this.
  16. Phil507

    Trusted Supporter

    If you're defining "rock" as music driven by distored guitar with bass and drums then...yes.
  17. Ska Senanake


  18. Davjs


    mercury likes this.
  19. slickdtc

    Regular Supporter

    This was actually my thought too. Maybe that keeps rock in a distant 2nd, 3rd, 500th, whatever “place” they are in the genre popularity rankings. But I’ve heard too many artists/bands create a story or some cohesive thought that binds a collection of songs together to think an album will just disappear.

    The dollar not backed up by gold was a decent analogy. Maybe an album won’t mean the same thing as it did growing up, but I don’t see it ever completely losing its value. Not because of this current era of streaming. Maybe because of some distant technology, not Spotify.
  20. The most “cohesive” album released this year was a hip-hop album. :-/
    Mr. Serotonin likes this.
  21. CyberInferno

    Line below my username Supporter

    I'm also a fan of when albums tell a story or stick to a common narrative. I'm not sure if I'd like it on every album, but it's definitely fun when it's done right. Silverstein's This Is How The Wind Shifts was one that had a really interesting take on it with the songs and titles pairing up if you split the album in the middle (14 tracks, 1 & 8 pair, 2 & 9 pair, etc.).
  22. KyleK

    Let's get these people moving faster! Supporter

    I thought that comment was more with respect to the fact that "rock" singles struggle to chart or have the popularity they once did, so focusing on singles doesn't have the same value. While hip-hop has the mainstream popularity and ability to chart highly that would maybe encourage some artists to focus on that format.

    But if as you said he was implying that hip-hop albums don't tend to be as cohesive or tell a story, that's totally off-base.
    Contender and slickdtc like this.
  23. slickdtc

    Regular Supporter

    Oh yeah, no disrespect to non-rock music. You’re spot on with your assessment, it just seems artists outside of rock are pushing the playlist/singles over albums. I don’t know if that’s actually the case or just what I’m seeing in my experience. I don’t think any one genre is superior to another.
  24. Matt Chylak

    I can always be better, so I'll always try. Supporter

    The album isn't going anywhere. It's too advantageous of a branding tool.