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The end of album-centric music?

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The end of album-centric music?

Postby theJudeAbides » Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:57 pm

I was recently listening to Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and started thinking about the state of modern music, how it is written, released, and purchased. It seems today that new music is written to be downloaded individually as an MP3 and not to be integrated into a whole album. It seems musicians (or perhaps the recording studios) are more interested in releasing a list of singles than they are in releasing a cohesive album that flows smoothly from one song to the next. I mean, when I listen to Dark Side of the Moon, it almost feels like one giant song rather than several individual hits.

But I have to think that this isn't necessarily the recording industries fault. We were the ones who used various download services to illegally download music, which inevitably led to the whole iTunes model of purchasing music, which led to the situation we find ourselves in now.

Personally, I miss the old album-centric model of music as opposed to the mp3-single model. What do you think?
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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby Teekay » Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:08 pm

I agree with you 100%. I know I'm one of "those kids" that the whole "single centered music" is aimed for, but I'm different from the other kids my age. I don't listen to the music they do. You'll know this immediately when I say my favorite artist is John Denver.

But back on topic, yes, I think this is the end of album-centric music. Apple has taken over the music world, and I don't think that there is much we can do about it. I personally like it when music is centered around an album. It just seems to flow better. There's my thoughts.

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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby Solo » Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:11 pm

MP3s set ups as album centric collections can be downloaded just as easily as a list of singles so I hardly feel the medium switch is to blame. I think more important is the perception (true or otherwise) that the world's collective attention has shrank and no one will focus on music for more than a song or two.

Personally, I can't listen to any track from Discovery without wanting to hear the whole album - but that may be in fault of Interstella 5555.
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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby BigBenKenobi » Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:50 pm

Well, I also differ from most of my friends on the topic of music. I listen to a lot of classic rock such as The Beatles, The Who, Boston, Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, Eric Clapton, and Chuck Berry as well as more modern rock such as Weezer. And to the dismay of my friends even more, I don't really listen to rap, although I do like some of the old school rap which actually carries a message IMO. Anyways, I have always purchased my music as CDs, and do not download songs from I-tunes, Limewire, or anything like that. I even have some old vinal records which are awesome. I don't know why, but I just like it better when I have a hard copy of my music for some reason. And, yes, I do agree that the music industry has been more recently centered around downloading songs, rather than producing hard copies such as CDs thus entering us in a post album-centric model of music.
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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby Teekay » Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:54 pm

Solo wrote:I think more important is the perception (true or otherwise) that the world's collective attention has shrank and no one will focus on music for more than a song or two.


You know, not that I think of that, it makes sense. I notice people with iPods listen to vastly different music back to back. I could never do that. I need music of the same album or at least genre back to back. I just guess I can't make that transition.

I think that all of us bothans are in the minority group of non-shrinking attention spans. Obviously we still have the attention to build giant UCS sets, and also to work on long term MOCs. Don has opened a whole new insight for me into the current (and unfortunately my) generation. (I'm in 7th grade)

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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby Veers » Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:02 pm

I'm very big on downloading songs from iTunes. Although for me, it's because when I hear a song I want, I want that song, not particularly all of the album. I do occasionally buy CDs, but usually that's only when iTunes doesn't carry it. (AC/DC anyone?)
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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby BigBenKenobi » Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:06 pm

Yes, you can make the transition...I did two years ago. Although all my music is of a hard copy of some kind, when I listen to my I-pod, I like to make playlists of songs according to my mood. For example, I have one playlist dedicated to my "Pump up music" before going to whatever sporting event with my friends, lifting and getting big (I still have a long way to go ;) ), and other stuff. Also, it's great being able to cycle through hundreds or even thousands of songs with ease...and it's all there in your I-pod or whatever mp3 you might have. It's great IMO.
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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby SkwerlJones » Tue Feb 17, 2009 9:07 pm

Well, if you ask the average 13 year-old (at least in my school) to name one song on the Nirvana album, Nevermind, 98% will say Smells Like Teen Spirit. If you ask them to name another one, most will be unable to think of a title. I don't really think this is a huge issue, because you can buy whole albums on iTunes. I'm with BBK here. Ipods are not a big problem that are plaguing teenagers, they are an easy way to store thousands of songs and play them at any time.

I do admit that I usually jump from song to song. I don't know why but Imagine really hits the spot after listening to AC/DC and Led Zeppelin.

Oh, if any one cares, some of my favorite bands/singers are The Beatles, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Van Halen, Chuck Berry (He is so Goode), Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Police, Nirvana, the Kinks, and Black Sabbath.


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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby Daniel Yuhas » Tue Feb 17, 2009 9:44 pm

I think about this a lot, being a musician, and a big music fan.

I agree with Don that it has a lot to do with attention span of the listeners, and their patience. And that is affected by the insane amount of music available to people nowadays. It's easier to record and release music now, which I love, but it means that there's a lot more music out there. It's also easier to get. Rather than having to go to a record store, kids can just sit at their computer and buy songs off of itunes or bands' websites, or download them for free (legally and illegally), or just listen to the music on myspace or whatever. This makes people, not just kids, less patient with music. Back in the old days, when someone would get an album, they probably didn't have a very large collection of music, and they'd spend time with an album, even if they didn't really love it at first. And I know from experience that even if you don't like something at first, it's very possible it will grow on you.

Another factor is the ability to skip songs on an album. Sure you could do that with cassettes and records, but with CD's and mp3's, it's just the press of a button. When people aren't being patient, they skip a song. I've been listening to music with friends of mine, and they'll skip songs like crazy. They may never even hear all the songs on an album because they never gave them a chance, but they'll hear the singles or hits because they're played everywhere, which makes you give them a chance whether you like them or not. That's why many people know Smells Like Teen Spirit and not about other songs on Nevermind, even if they own the album.

I personally love albums. I love sitting down for anywhere between 30 and 80 minutes just doing nothing but listening to an album, on headphones, listening to all the details of the music. Most people don't really spend time with albums like that anymore, but I love it. There are things I love about it, like the flow of an album, the feeling that the songs all work together as opposed to being separate songs that have nothing to do with each other all thrown together. Many bands are realizing now that making albums isn't really worth it, that they could just release singles. So many bands that I like have announced recently that they probably won't be making any more albums, but instead releasing singles. That way, they can release music more often, and it caters to people's short attention spans. I don't know how I feel about this, because I really love albums.

What I'd like to see start happening though is bands releasing singles, more often, but with "b-sides". That way it would be like a mini album, just 2 to 4 songs or something, with one being the "hit". But it would be like a mini album in that it would all flow nicely. It would cater to short attention spans, and there would still be the hit single, and bands wouldn't be spending so long working on albums. They could release a bunch of these single mini albums in the time it takes to make one full length album. Releasing singles that aren't on any albums is nothing new, it was happening decades ago, but they were usually just slapped with some b-sides that didn't necessarily go with the single. So I would just like to see bands take the best characteristics of singles and mix with with some of the characteristics of albums, creating these mini albums that flow nicely.
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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby onions » Tue Feb 17, 2009 11:56 pm

i think another obvious reason for this is the amount of CRAP that is out there. does the term "one hit wonder" ring a bell? why waste good money an entire album when all you want is one song? back when single song downloads weren't available, people had to risk spending a lot of money on a whole album when they know one or two songs were good and were in the dark about the others. before you can say "they should just get the single", well, not every song was available as a single.
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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby meeotch » Wed Feb 18, 2009 1:01 am

I've always found this to be an interesting topic, as I am myself a musician. I favor electronic music (of pretty much all forms).

It's interesting because a lot of "dance" electronic music (what many people group under techno, but may be trance, house, drum and bass, or any of their millions of sub-genres) get released pretty much strictly as singles, so there isn't quite the same "album" mentality as there was with the old masters like Pink Floyd. On the flip side of this, often, these singles include multiple remixes, so you still get what ends up being like 30 minutes of different takes on a particular theme. Even though they're remixes, half the time, you can't even tell except for the track's title. (Check out Rabbit in the Moon's FloorI.D.A. for one of the best examples of this).

One major notable exception to this seems to be in the realm of psytrance. Typipcally, an artist will release a full album that is very thematically related, and often includes those interludes between tracks, such that the music never ends.

And then, of course, there are the multitudes of dj mixsets out there, where the music REALLY never stops, and it's practically impossible NOT to listen to it all the way through, even if it's 2 hours non-stop.

I think that's part of why I like electronic music so much: no matter what I'm in the mood for, there's something completely different that I can find that will blow me away.
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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby Daniel Yuhas » Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:14 am

Ace brings up a good point. I don't think the single mentality as opposed to album mentality is anything new at all. Really not that many bands make albums like the ones we're talking about, where the album is one piece of work that flows from beginning to end. It's been happening for decades where many bands and musicians will have a couple of songs intended to be hit singles while the rest of the album is made up of what is generally referred to as "filler". Of course, people are pretty loose with that term, as a lot of what other people tend to refer to filler is often stuff that I find to be more interesting and better than the singles, but that's besides the point. A lot of albums out there are comprised mostly of filler, and that's why people get their hands on the singles instead of the whole album. And in that case, it's not the music fan's fault, but the fault of the musicians for not treating their own albums as a complete work.

And (restating what Ace said) whereas people used to still have to get the whole album to get the songs they wanted, and get the filler songs along with it, they can now easily get the individual songs they want. While that is an effect of a change in format, the original problem existed way before the development of new formats, of musicians making albums that only had a few good songs on them.

I also think most singles are now filled with filler. Rather than having some good b-sides that were usually basically just songs that didn't make it onto the album because they interfered with the flow, now they're just slapping on bad remixes as b-sides so they have something to sell with the hit single. While remixes can be really cool, who wants to buy a bunch of different versions of the same song? They're just going to buy the one version of the song without all the filler.

I also think it doesn't have to just do with the quality of the albums, but maybe the song you like on the album is nothing like the rest of the album. I know this is true with me. While I like a lot of complete albums, there are various songs I really like, and have checked out the rest of the album and didn't like it. So I have plenty of individual songs in my music collection without the rest of the albums they belong to.

All that said though, I don't think albums are on the way out. Not any time soon anyway. Many music listeners still love albums, and so do a lot of musicians. There are plenty of them that aren't going to quit making great albums.
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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby bigospedros » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:41 am

There are two issues here ... firstly there are albums. I think we've covered that in that they way people buy and listen to music these days is not that conjusive to listening to albums as a whole. I do find that for the majority of the time I listen to my ipod on random, but more often that not, I'm finding that I will listen to albums as a whole, as they were intended to be listened to. It's a much more rewarding process.

Secondly, there are singles. I'm not sure what it's like in other geographies, but here in the UK, the chart rules have been distorted over a number of years to basically kill off the single. In the early 90s, you could release a single with an "a-side" and up to 3 b-sides and it was still eligable for the charts. You could release 3 formats of a single (usually 2 x CD and 1 x 7") and their sales would be added up for charting purposes.

During the late 90s, they decided there was too much pressure on bands to make singles like this (WTF?!) and therefore they reduced the number of b-sides to 2. Then a while later they decided singles were too expensive and made 2 different formats for CD singles - 1 2 track CD to cost no more than £2 and a Maxi CD (up to 3 tracks or 20 minutes if tracks were remixes of the a-side) which was supposed to be £3 ish. You could still release 3 formats and have them all eligable for the charts.

Then the decided to include downloads in the charts, which made a complete farce of the charts and making physical sales almost meaningless.

Sure, you can see why the record industry would prefer these rules ... afterall, the cost of making a download is far less than the cost of making a physical release, meaning margins are better on downloads. However, to the music fan, it's a rough deal, in my opinion.

Whether it be single or album ... I want physical releases. I want to see them, touch them, feel them. I want to flick through the pages of the artwork. I want to smell the plastic. I want the special packaging that some albums come in. You can't get that in digital formats and that is a shame.

Call me anachronistic if you want, but I don't want the record industry to abandon physical formats and I don't want bands to stop making albums as entities. I think it depends on the bands you like ... most rock bands (my preferred genre) still make albums and still have physical releases. Some rock bands even take pride in their b-sides and put effort into them - Feeder, my fave band, for example, are particular good at this. Always have been ... always will be, but that's mostly because the songwriter is quite prolific.

Some bands that I like are changing though ... Ash aren't making albums anymore, preferring to release a series of EPs.

I get that the industry has to change a little to cope with downloads and what not, but some things should remain. I always think about vinyl. I remember when the cassette single came out and everyone said it would be the death of vinyl. The same when CDs came out. And yet vinyls are still going strong. So there's hope for music fans like me! *crosses fingers*
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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby liquidcross » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:50 am

I listen to prog rock. Album-centric music has always been the order of the day, and will never disappear. :)
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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby thepatient » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:32 pm

I miss record albums. I would sit and check out the Album cover while I listened to the record, and sometimes the inner sleeve would have the lyrics and you could read along as you listened. I like to listen to the music really loud. So I don't miss when the record would skip on a particularly big boom or bass beat. I always liked the sound quality of CDs better, but I felt cheated when the art work was reduced from 12" down to 5" or 6". When I was a kid you didn't buy the single; you bought the 45.

I've seen the 8-track come and go. I've seen reel to reel tape fall by the way side. I witnessed the death of the cassette tape too. When I graduated from high school back in 1988, records took up most of the space in the record store (which has pretty muched died too- I miss TOWER records). CDs were a small section in the corner. By the end of that summer, CDs took up most of the space and the records ended up in the corner. It switched over night it seemed.

I still don't own any kind of MP3 player. Without the art work it just isn't the same. I would rather have an excuse and go out and buy music, not sit at home to download it. I've watched too many mediums come and go, I'm tired of having to buy all of my music again to "keep up with the times." I have a 25 disc CD player. That's all of the shuffling that I need. I'm sure in the next few years you'll be able to buy every song ever done and you'll listen to it from your keychain. I still won't get it. Downloading music seems to have really killed radio too. The Buggles were wrong when they sang "Video Killed the Radio Star." It was downloading, but they couldn't have guessed that all those years ago.
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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby AlternativeRadio » Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:58 pm

Teekay wrote:Don has opened a whole new insight for me into the current (and unfortunately my) generation. (I'm in 7th grade)

~Sam (Teekay)

I'm older than you, but not old enough to be considered a different generation, and I'm not ashamed to say I'm a part of it. It's not bad that kids these days use iPods and download music instead of buying it, it's just the evolution of music. That's just the way it goes. I also think that the end of the album-centric music doesn't have to do with this generation. I think that back in the '70's, if we told that generation they could download (almost) any song they wanted, and carry it on a convienent portable device, they would've jumped at the chance. Those rascally kids aren't doing anything wrong, it's nothing to be frowned upon, it's just the natural order of things. It's not even just the kids, adults do the same thing, because of the convenience.

And I haven't actually heard a whole album be fused together like Pink Floyd's in a while. Most of the artists today have seperate individual songs, which also has its pros. I bought Weezer's Red Album last summer and it had a lot of experimental sounds to it. I think had it been set up like Pink Floyd's, it would've sounded a lot weirder.

Oh, and as for the artwork, you can actually put the album artwork on your iPod, thepatient. It's at an even more reduced size and you can only view that one picture instead of the whole little booklet that comes with cds, so it might not appeal to you, but it's still there.
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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby dWhisper » Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:58 am

It really depends where you're looking for the flow of an album. If you're talking pop or rock, then yes, they long ago succumbed to the whole "make singles" mentality, and were later consumed by consumers looking for that. However, that being said, singles have been on the decline over the years. It used to be that you bought albums as singles, and maybe later got the full thing. It was far easier to find 45s with a song and a couple of b-sides than to get the full album. That died away somewhat going to tapes, and further on CDs, as costs settled to being the same for each type (while a single 45 takes less wax than a full 33, a single CD is the same as a full album).

What happened in the industry is focusing more on the hit or hook that gets some sucker to buy an album, instead of producing a full album of material that could be popular. Even the best disc only produces 3-4 radio hits, typically (a few exceptions to this mold, like Linkin Park or Foo Fighters, exist... seriously, go back and listen to Hybrid Theory... every gorram song was on the radio), and it's more expensive to produce an album now than it used to be.

But there are still many artists that produce a coherent "album." Recent examples that come to mind are things like American Idiot by Green Day, Fight With Tools by the Flobots, and pretty much anything by Outkast. Yes, iTunes (and Napster before it) changed things, but that's just what consumers wanted. Mp3s, consumer electronics, and even computers made it possible to mix and match what you wanted, something that was only possible with the crappy mix tapes us old farts used to make for girls in middle school.

That being said, record albums still exist. Some of us even collect them. ;)
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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby bigospedros » Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:31 am

dWhisper wrote:
That being said, record albums still exist. Some of us even collect them. ;)


indeed we do ... 5000+ and counting :D
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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby Jettbacca » Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:24 am

Unlike the majority in my Grade, my favorite bands are Led Zeppelin, Rush, and Nirvana. The majority in my class like Rihanna and Flo Rida. Most of my albums my mum bought like 20 years ago, and when I get new music, I sometimes use I Tunes and I sometimes get the Album. If it's for my I Pod, I Tunes, for my CD player, CD. I prefer albums and more often put on stuff like Led Zeppelin IV and Nevermind, but,

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Re: The end of album-centric music?

Postby Daniel Yuhas » Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:44 am

Jettbacca, I think you might have missed the point of this thread. We aren't just stating what bands or formats we like, but discussing whether or not there will be an end to album-centric music and whether or not we're seeing signs of the end of album-centric music, and what those signs are.
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