I had a similar discussion with a friend much older than I (75) a few months ago and he raised an interesting alternative point. The album, at a time, was a very new concept to the music scene (he cited Sgt Pepper). It changed music, no doubt, and gave artists a new canvas to display their depth and skill. In terms of the digital media and iTunes generation, he saw a lot of the positives and viewed it as a similar shift in music as an art form. If the album was going the way of extinction as a consequence, then that's unfortunate, but still a side effect.
Is there any incentive to buy a full album on iTunes?
Buddy J wrote:
I not only buy full albums but also listen to the albums in their entirety.
oh hell, all of it.
Then again, it's not usually contemporary music. Part of it you hit on the head - many artists just don't make albums that are meant to be consumed in total. A lot of them are just 10 sketchy songs with hopefully 3 radio hits, no front-to-back experience. Some still do - but many just don't inspire an hour's dedication.
Now then, if there's music that's worth the full album experience, I gladly buy the full album. Fact of the matter is most mainstream record labels don't produce albums that are worth having the full experience (cuz half the music on the album sucks). Of course, that said, there are artists that put out albums worth the full experience and even if I buy them in digital form I will sit down and enjoy the full experience... Green Day's latest 2 albums fall into that category as do The Smashing Pumpkins and many others. I hope Billy Corgan reconsiders his position because I do enjoy the experience of listening to a well balanced full album. For the real full album experience though, I've gotta find it in vinyl, sit on the floor between my two homebuilt speakers and listen to it played on a turntable though.
And I agree with Cliff, Snark, prime- today's artists are being churned out without regard to quality. It's a quick hit, one single, then on to the next band.
I have roughly 20LP's sitting in my vinyl travel case at my parents, I need to get my turntable moved here so I can enjoy those again. I have a 311 45 also. lots of bands are releasing on vinyl still. more aimed at the TRUE music lovers.
I thought his argument was interesting.
Personally, I mostly listen to classic rock. Im 25 so I really only access the stuff that survived the test of time - and they were some pretty amazing albums. For artists of today that are capable of the same, hopefully they will find a new venue to showcase those skills (maybe focused in live concerts).
Complete albums generally waste three things: My time, my money and my drive space. I cherry-pick what I like and move on; whether or not that means singles is up to the artist's alignments with my taste in music.
Don't mistake what I'm saying: If I find a great track, you bet I'll give the rest of the album a listen, but to date I remain completely unconvinced by more than a small handful of artists.
I won't pay the list price if every dollar isn't well-spent, and that goes for everything in my life, not just albums.
//edit: The value of the album experience is overstated when you couldn't care less if half the tracks on the album were never made.
I also think is ironic that first album that caught my eye in the picture is AEnima by Tool, which is in the CD player in my car right now.
While I must admit I'm a big Smashing Pumpkins fan, I have to disagree with Billy on this one. Releasing only singles destroys the idea of the concept album or the rock opera. Look at Tommy by The Who or The Wall by Pink Floyd or even some newer stuff, like Broken Bride by Ludo or Lateralus by Tool. All of these albums have a central theme or story that ties all the songs together. If you just disregard the whole idea behind an album, then your not letting the artist tell his whole story.
I'll generally only buy a CD if I've had the chance to listen to the whole thing. The only exception is if there was a song that I really, REALLY liked then I would just buy the CD and hope the others songs would be ok.
I love buying the physical CD, unwrapping it, opening the CD player, putting the CD in, closing the CD player, and pressing play.
The majority of my CD collection is stuff that isn't played on the radio(any more or never has) because to me, most mainstream music now, especially what's played on the radio, doesn't seem worth spending money on. Be it $.99 or $10 - 15.
Most of the stuff I've been listening to lately, the CDs are good front to back. The music I'm listening to (funk and metal) don't get as much air play as the pop groups and as a rule, the CDs as a whole are stronger. Yeah, Black Clouds & Silver Linings only has 6 songs on it, but each of those songs is really good.
This is what I was thinking as mas0n and I were discussing this in the car. The album is what it is because of the media it was recorded on. An LP, a CD, a whatever holds x number of minutes. What can you do with that time? It is stored in this case and the cover looks like this. A few artists went outside that box occasionally, but it's usually just minor variations on the same idea. 60 minutes of music on a disc in a case. Digital is a completely new media with endless unexplored conceptual possibilities. I welcome artists who are game to explore how they can express themselves in the unconfined time frame of digital media.
Merce Cunningham just died and it's been a reminder to think outside the beat.
It's always entertaining to watch others' disbelief when I claim to be unfamiliar with certain musicians. ("Metallica? Never heard 'em.")
Of course, my choice of music isn't major label acts most of the time. I like artists like Sufjan Stevens who are devoted to the artform of Making an Album, where the art, music, liner notes, packaging, and even disc color create not just sound but an experience.
I disagree with Cliff. Digital isn't killing the full album experience. It's lazy artists and big money record labels. What digital is doing is giving the artists that care a new way to share and connect with their audience. It's the new medium that adds to the full album experience if only artists will embrace it. And they are ... Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Ryan Adams, The Flaming Lips ... they're all doing it.
Also, Billy Corgan's reputation as a total dickwad far exceeds his reputation in the industry as a talented musician. He is no longer relevant.
Outside of Icrontic, I know few that still do.
I buy albums every single time. I have bought one song on iTunes, and I doubt I'll ever use it again. I buy physical CDs, I never fully got on the digital bandwagon (with games, either). I buy CDs because I do the majority of listening in my vehicle. I'm not the type to output an MP3 player to a stereo in my truck to listen to 16 GB of music, I'd rather put in a CD and listen to the story the artist tells.
In fact, the only MP3 player I own is a 2GB generic used primarily for exercising.
Artists tell stories with their albums. Some artists take this further than others. My favorite band, Dream Theater, takes album storytelling to an astonishing level. You wouldn't buy a chapter or two from a film on DVD, so why only buy sections of an album?
I absolutely adore music, and I love the album. I'll always be an album man, and I hope things never change in that respect.