Are Albums a Thing of the Past?
Updated: Jun 2, 2022
I Never Really Thought So, but ...
I've reached an age which I now freely admit makes me a Geezer, so I am well accustomed to Musicians and Bands releasing their music in the form of an ALBUM.
Naturally, after exposure to the ALBUM music format, I tend to think of my own songs in terms of how well they would fit together with other ones to form an album. But now, after observing the world around me and doing a little research, I have the sneaking suspicion that this no longer makes any sense. I think that albums are doomed.
ALBUMS are DOOMED:
Streaming Services like SPOTIFY are Killing the Album.
Not just Spotify. Amazon Music, Apple Music and other smaller wanna-be's, are all using subtle marketing techniques which include forms of Orwellian New Speak ... designed to erase our desire to buy music.
"What's Trending..." "Play Free"
"Discover New Music" "3 Months of Free Premium"
(Free Premium ?? What does that even mean?)
Through these and other ploys, they are methodically removing the concept of an "Album" from the mind of an entire generation. Not just albums, but any form of music that you can actually Purchase, Own and Take Home with you. The way that they are doing this is complicated, but the reason is simple and obvious, and can be summed up in eight words.
They can only sell you an album once
(unless you get divorced, dumped by your Significant Other or your car gets stolen)
The thing is, once you have bought music and brought it home, you then have the power to make as many copies of it as you want and you can share it with all your friends, never having to give Big Brother another red cent. Well, apparently that is just unacceptable.
With the advent of Music Streaming, you now get to pay them over and over again for the same song. Forever... or until you go deaf from wearing earbuds 24-7 or get killed wandering out into traffic while wearing them, whichever comes first.
So, what is it about albums that is worth saving ?
I don't know about you, but the albums that really stick in my mind are the ones that were most able to successfully develop a single idea or concept. The ones that were able to present that concept when taken as a whole, Yet when taken individually, many of the songs were strong enough to stand alone.
"An album is a story and songs are the paragraphs that develop it"
When we buy an album we expect some sort of connection of concept, or common theme among the songs that were included. I think that is an important part of what defines a "Good Album".
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is a good example of a “Let’s all get wasted and then lie down and listen to this with the speakers close to our heads…”. type of album.
Obviously a great idea at the time.
Then there were other albums that exemplified the "Let's all get wasted and jump in the car and drive really fast" type of album, like Steppenwolf Live That one really got your motor runnin' ...
So beyond just spreading the word about "getting wasted", the conclusion can be drawn that a Good Album is one where the Artists have used a group of their songs to express a larger idea.
But, like one of my run-on sentences ... the challenge in putting together an album is in trying to find a Good way to develop the concept without “beating a dead horse” by writing the same thing over and over ( and over and over and over ).
You have to be careful, with songwriting... It is largely dependent on inspirations that occur unpredictably. Sometimes you think you have a new song idea that you spend a whole day or even longer developing, and then later on you start to get this sinking feeling ... you kind of remember having already written pretty much the same thing ... it was two years ago but you never finished it because you got side tracked.
SO... SPEAKING OF SIDETRACKED
LET'S GET BACK TO THE POINT: The PLAYLIST is the NEW ALBUM
I'm not sure why, but it occurred to me recently that the “Album” is being replaced by the “Playlist”, and a playlist is a fluid, living, breathing thing that is reshaped and redefined at the whim of the “Playlist Owners” (aka the record companies).
Same as it ever was …
But, even if you make your own playlist on your own iPod, and you download my album
(or even, God forbid, someone else’s …) hitting that RANDOM play button will totally dissolve the album into its component parts.
For a while in the early days of digital music, successful bands like R.E.M. and Fish started kicking the record companies’ ass and make bunches of money by using their own, well-deserved and hard-earned fame to sell their own music at their own concerts or from their own websites. As a result, music consumers were carrying hundreds or even thousands of songs around in their smartphone or 'iPod”. But apparently, due to diligent marketing efforts by "the record companies" , that has become old fashioned now too.
Now, most of the world has started using streaming "services" like Spotify and others, and now people don’t even have to bother to download songs any more. In fact, as it turns out, they don’t even have to bother to choose the songs they listen to any more. They just pay their $9.99 monthly fee to the song-mongers and then listen to whatever someone picks for them… (sounds a lot like broadcast radio to me. At least that was free)
Any way I look at it, it seems that the ALBUM is dead ...
STREAMiNG The Innovative "Music Delivery System”
I'm not changing the subject again. Trust me...
Did you know that cigarettes contain an additive which acts similarly to Albuterol. It opens and relaxes your airways. This is so you can get a good healthy dose of nicotine with each puff. In the the tobacco industry internal correspondence, the cigarette itself is referred to as the Nicotine Delivery System.
Patterned after the tobacco companies, the answer to the music industry's problems was in designing a way to deliver their own addictive substance so that you have to keep on paying them for it.
That is what Spotify is. It sprang from the criminally fertile minds of the Music Industry marketing people as a result of the failure of the convoluted “COPY PROTECTION” schemes that they tried to implement when music first went digital and they discovered you could effectively CLONE their products and prevent them from stealing the very Profits that THEY had been stealing from Musicians since the invention of recording by way of their convoluted Record Deals.
Spotify, Apple and Amazon (and others) represent the modern day equivalent of the elusive, “Record Deal”. That golden Pot at the End of the Rainbow that bands sold their souls for. These streaming services are the latest way that the music industry has managed to convince unsuspecting creative people to be grateful for the opportunity to be robbed. ( Same as it ever was …)
The Streaming Industry has spawned thriving side industries that feed on musicians’ desire to be heard. They sell musicians the “tools” to “get their music heard by the right people” and “get their songs placed on the best playlists” and supposedly make tons of money. In fact, it is they who make tons of money, not the musicians.
Then, there are the Music Distributors. Another layer between the musician and the money. Spotify doesn’t let a musician put his own music up there for people to stream. NO… You have to pay a music distributor to do it for you. I won’t even bother mentioning how much these vampires charge to smooth talk you into signing away your hard work.
Saving the Worst for Last: Every Spotify artist has paid for a “music distributor”, paid for an artist account and paid Spotify from $9.95-34.95 to get their song on there. Now they can finally expect the checks to start arriving, right? Uh, uh... Apparently, lots and lots of people need to stream that song before they get even a penny. In fact, that song would need to be streamed roughly 400,000 times in a month for that artist to earn minimum wage.
Okay Bobby... enough! Who reallly cares about musicians anyway?
Do you see a bunch of record company fan magazines in the rack. NO.
Do they do feature stories with secret footage of which Spotify executive is having an affair with what Apple Music executive on Extra TV? NO.
Those are how we get to have a glimpse of our Rock Star and movie idols. I rest my case.
Let's Cut to the Chase
If you want to use Spotify it will cost you $120 a year
unless you don’t mind listening to advertisements on the Free version.
10 bucks a month is pretty cheap and you get access to 35 million songs!
When you do a little research you find out that the artists who created that music had to pay Spotify a minimum of $9.95 for each one of those songs in order to get it listed on Spotify
WTF … so in other words, Spotify already got paid by the people who make the product.
I'd love to take a look at their Profit and Loss Statement
It would show the cost of their product at $(348,250,000.00 )
How do you even calculate Net Profit when the
Cost Of Goods Sold is a Negative number??
So my point is … Why are you adding to their already bloated bottom line?
If you want to spend $10 a month to listen to music, why not BUY MUSIC from the people who actually create it??
Go back to the FREE membership. Then when you hear a song that you really like...
Go out and BUY IT from the ARTIST
I’m hoping that you will help me spread the word about this.
And Now A Shameless Plug:
Thank You for reading my Food and Music Blog...
Here's a Full Length FREEview of the title track of my latest album.
“Falling In Love Again” is quite possibly the last Bobby Faria album release… I’m seriously considering not bothering to construct any more albums in the future.
Don’t get your hopes up, though… I’m not taking my ball and going home.
I’ll still be writing music, but instead of "packaging" albums like this, I’ll be releasing it as the digital equivalent of a Good Old Fashioned Single with 2 songs for the price of 1.
Until the Next Time ... So Long from Bob's Diner
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