Rolling Stone: The Album is in Trouble


A pretty interesting read:

Of course we’re already aware of this issue. Perhaps our little community still listens (mostly) to albums, but this is concerning in general. I still believe in and listen to albums almost exclusively; the only time I jump track to track is if I’m looking for what artist/album to settle on for the drive to/from work or when I’m painting.

Aside from the general public not caring as much (so it seems) about albums, the other driving issue is probably the quality of these albums just isn’t as good as what albums used to be, subjective as that may be.

What do we think?


I think the “music industry” is corporate so I don’t really care if it tanks. Good musicians who can make quality albums will. Flavor of the day will stream singles. I like both but prefer albums.


I like the album format.

Two sides, or groupings of songs… contained in one package with artwork, lyrics, production and song order all contributing to create a unified feeling or theme.

At lease a lot of albums I like seem to work this way.

I’m not much for just listening to one song by an artist. If it is something I’m going to want to keep, I’ll almost always want to hear more in that vein.


I like and buy physical albums and I cannot remember a time when I didn’t.
Things can get busy at work so I tend to buy one or two new albums a week and play them at the weekend. For example, this week I purchased new albums by Bill Ryder-Jones and J Mascis and I am unashamedly really looking forward to playing them.

I get that I am not going to be your average music consumer but the real loss, if you are an average consumer is missing out on an artists best work, which more often than not sits outside of the so called ‘hits’.



The “single” is just the teaser to the feast, which more often than not contains a more savory treat.

The album is the context that the songs fit into.



I don’t listen to pop music and rarely buy anything put out by any major labels. What they do or don’t do would be unlikely to affect my record buying.

The independent labels will keep doing what they are doing, I believe.


Yeah, I feel the same way as you and @DougoBlue have said; the album is the main event for me, and the single is the teaser. Most of the time, my favorite songs end up being something other than the singles. Additionally, if I don’t like the album, I won’t even listen to the individual songs from the album that I do like most of the time – maybe every once in a while on YouTube, but they won’t earn a spot in my (iTunes-managed) collection.

Also, I’ve noticed the trend in the past 5 years or so of releasing so many singles prior to the album, which really hurts the album experience on that first listen, which I look forward to. Of course we can police ourselves, which is what I do – I’ll allow a listen or two prior to the album release, but nothing more – I guess I just miss the emphasis on albums. It’s all in the name of catching everyone’s aggressively shortened attention span these days I suppose.


I have always really enjoyed going to the record store, buying something I have not heard any thing from, and putting it on for a listen.


You are correct.
I think the shortened attention span in general sums it up and is probably doing more to kill the album than anything else.

Let’s face it, if folk make voting decisions based upon a snappy tweet or a bus slogan, we shouldn’t be all that surprised if there is little desire to take the time out and listen to an album.


See, that sounds nice, but I just don’t have the budget to buy something that I’m basically taking a chance on if I’ll like it or not. I readily admit I download a ton of music for free, but when I find something I like, I will buy it on vinyl if available or CD. And a lot of bands I end up going to a show down the road. So for starting out by downloading a bands album for free, it may end up in me spending 30-40 bucks on them in the end.



Well, sadly I don’t get to the record store as often as I used to, but most of my recent purchases have been without hearing the music. I’ll end up purchasing music from the merch booth at concerts from bands I wasn’t that familiar with their music. I also pre-ordered the John Prine record before I heard anything from it.


There’s some musicians/bands where I’ll buy their album without hearing it first, and that’s usually because I’m already a big fan of their stuff. When trying out “new” artists, I’ll track it down on YouTube or Amazon Music, and listen to it while I work or what not and see if it gets my attention. From there, I’ll end up buying it.


There are times when I go to the record store to buy an album and support a band that I’ve heard some of their music on the college radio station I listen to.

Nathanial Ratliff and the Night Sweats are a band that I’ve heard a handful of songs by that I have liked every one. Next time I go to the record store I may pick up a vinyl copy of their newest one if I see it and it isn’t an outrageous price.


I know… I’m old.

But I just like having the thing in my hand (not that thing).