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Guess Who's a Mess, my third album. 10 tracks, instant downloads.

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As I was plodding along working on my album today I wound up reading a lot of posts about the death of the album (1, 2, 3).

I thought the album was dead when I started putting my music on the net years ago. I didn’t even bother releasing an album until a few years later (“people just want to download mp3s!”) but I was totally wrong.

I don’t have much artistic or romantic attachment to albums but I do think there’s a practical aspect to them. Assuming it’s not one good song plus eleven songs of filler, I’d rather have 45 minutes of entertainment from an artist I enjoy than 3 minutes. It’s the difference between watching one episode of a series versus the whole season.

But I don’t see why it has to be exclusively albums or singles, it’s the future now, they can co-exist! I think as budgets shrink, artists become more independent and audiences diversify and fragment, it’s harder to decide or define what a worthy “single” is. That’s what the filtration of the Internet is for, that’s why file-sharing is awesome. The hits will bubble to the top.

Do you want each song to be focus-grouped before you get to hear it? An album’s still a pretty good vehicle for putting out a batch of songs and seeing what spreads.

Posted on - February 21, 2007 [at] 11:30 pm by Brad
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9 Comments on this post

Ryjek on Is the album dead?
February 22, 2007 at 5:20 am

I love albums, I love being able to tap into the artists’ mind that way because an album provides way more context than separate songs.

JMG on Is the album dead?
February 22, 2007 at 6:52 am

Separated songs are nice. But albums… when they are thought as a whole, are far better. That way you stick to the artist’s universe. I dislike going from one song to another random one, and so on in endless playlists.

That may be the very reason why I don’t listen to the radio (even good webradios), I just hear it from a distance. Whenever I put digital music, I just load full albums, I hit play and then I listen to the songs (not always, not everything, but I do most of the time). I’m not just hearing them.

What if albums were books? Will we start reading a chapter from one book then skip to another chapter in another book, then skip to yet another chapter in yet another book, and so on? How silly ;)

Albums are not dead (at least I hope so).

Eric Dawson on Is the album dead?
February 22, 2007 at 11:15 am

When I started collecting Vinyl, there was a definite distinction between the “singles” and the “albums”. I much preferred the albums (albums that should be played as albums), but ya gotta love the singles.

In this new age, is it all about the single? Not a chance. Maybe we’ll change the nomenclature, but a project is a project. a song is a song.

As an artist, I think it’s all about the project. If you want to explore something musically, you’ll create alot of music and ideas as you explore it. Maybe a single will emerge. Maybe not. But there is a continuity, consistency and connection between all of the songs and ideas.

How can you talk about the songs without the larger body of music that surrounds it?

In this day and age, I might even suggest that this entire body of work is becoming important.
ideas, jams, practices, live shows, early recordings, albums, songs and singles…

Personally I want to hear it all.

Elijah on Is the album dead?
February 22, 2007 at 12:20 pm

One side effect of the file-sharing phenomenon is that it spurs talk exactly like this, where the media and most pundits seem to think that the mass availability of single songs/episodes/books will destroy the need for albums/TV/collections, where I see it benefiting both.

While it’s great to be able to get that one “hit” and enjoy it by its lonesome, it makes me interested in finding out what else the artist has done, in their context. So I buy the whole shebang, and usually find that’s it better with company than without ;)

thegreathal on Is the album dead?
February 22, 2007 at 4:39 pm

They definitely begin to coexist, as sure as Apple undoes DRM. Albums becoming signposts for artists, especially one like Brad Sucks, right? We digg and /. our songs now, or will.

Rob on Is the album dead?
February 23, 2007 at 8:00 am

I don’t think the album is dead. I really hope not.

A friend and I just made a list of our 10 favourite albums each, and each one on my list was a complete album, not a soundtrack or greatest hits album, and not just a couple of songs and some fillers.

This comes about from finding an artist who has two or three songs that you like, then taking a chance and buying the album. Sometimes this works, sometimes not.

So for those 10 favourite albums I was able to pick, I have a cupboard full of tapes and CDs that I bought as a teenager where I still only listen to a couple of songs off of it.

I’d be surprised if kids these days knew what albums were.

c.layne on Is the album dead?
February 23, 2007 at 7:40 pm

i’m seriously questioning whether the guy who wrote that first article actually likes music.
the album is great, and it is a very rare occasion that i purchase a greatest hits collection.
i don’t put a song on my ipod unless i have the album to accompany it.
sometimes listening to music takes time, and even effort, to really enjoy. a really good album is way more valuable that a really good one-off, 2min50sec single any day.

thehipcola on Is the album dead?
February 24, 2007 at 1:32 pm

Where are all the single’s peeps? Everyone here seems to be album supporters, which is awesome. An album is the most efficient and easily distributed “installation” of an artist’s vision. Vive l’album! I think the fragmenting of music into individual tracks will always work for top 10 pop type music, where the bulk of it is built specifically for that type of buying public, but for true music lovers, the album will never die, and hopefully it will become the mark of the music lover – owning complete albums, getting inside your favoured artists head-space. Provided there is one to get into.

wkriski on Is the album dead?
August 28, 2007 at 9:09 pm

I’m into singles. I’m releasing a new free tune every week or so, and I think people like to get songs quickly rather than wait for entire album to be created and engineering. I know of albums that were ‘leaked’ before they were released, because I think fans really want to get new material quickly. I’m also creating songs of different styles and they may not fit into a single concept or project. Also, some of my songs use creative commons content and so I’m not able to sell them individually or on a cd.

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