Albums Still Matter As Usual
In the current landscape of hacks, instant gratification, and collective forgetting, it might be tempting to question the album’s relevance and place in music and pop culture. It can be especially tempting for bands to count albums because they have costs and time to produce. Why spend a lot of money to release an album when you can simply spread the promotion and an endless stream of singles? It’s a fair question, but the truth is that the 2017 albums are more important than ever and that your band will lose a significant amount of momentum by streaming their music in songs rather than through an album.
Albums always count because they tell the unique story of who a band is at a given time that one or two singles just can’t make. Imagine if Nick drake’s Pink Moon songs or The Beatles ‘ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band were released individually over the course of a year. Yes, the songs would still be incredible, but the significance of these extremely important albums would be much less impactful. Whether it’s a concept album or not, good albums contain some kind of story or larger narrative, whether in text or instrumentation. Simply can not tell the stories that albums can.
This does not mean that singles have no place and purpose in music. Simple ones are a great way to present your music to a large group of people. Getting someone who doesn’t know your music to discover your new album is a tough sell, but most listeners are happy to discover a new single or two. But while singles are important, nothing can replace the importance of releasing songs together over an album.
Albums don’t have to be profound, meaningful, or political for the world to recognize this. Instead of being a grandiose artistic statement, sometimes it’s as simple as a music listener thinking, “Hey, a band I love has just released ten songs.”You get a lot more mileage from releasing your music through albums than you will if you stream your song-by-song versions, regardless of the type of music you’re doing.
If you’re a new band, you don’t feel like you have to drop everything and record an album right away. There are tons of examples of bands that have been very successful in releasing demos, EPS and singles before making albums. But despite decades of unpredictability and rapid change, the album’s artistic form remains the most common way of releasing, distributing and consuming music. As listeners, the albums released by our favorite artists have so much meaning that they often serve as markers of time. If you dig Radiohead, listening In Rainbows could take you back to your college days or a previous relationship. Again, singles are great, but they don’t usually give the kind of punch you often get when listening to a great album. The albums are a bit like a good meal. They often take a long time to do, but they are worth waiting for when the boss knows what they are doing.