Death of the Album


I have seen several pieces on the death of the CD recently such as this one here on The Register; whilst this is all very interesting I am more worried about the real tragedy here – the Death of the Album!

Why is this important I detect you thinking? Well read on and find out!

So we don’t have any more CDs – what do we lose?

With the death of the CD artists (who increasingly make money from touring and merchandise) have less of a publishing event behind them and will not need to find enough material at any one time to fill an album (or try to). I think we will lose:

  • The power of the album cover
  • The iconic drivers of success
  • The chance for all members of the band to contribute.

Album Covers

We love the album covers – where would any great album be without its cover? (pick from any of 1000s of examples). We like to rip CDs and embed the covers so we can recognise albums we wish to listen to. Bands will move towards random ‘this is us’ picture maybe updated around every tour.

Iconic Drivers

There is meaning to listening to Dark Side of the Moon on headphones in students digs, a passion to Never Mind the Bollocks, high art to Tubular Bells, the event that was Sergeant Pepper, the frisson of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway! The album is the art!
Will we all just listen to ‘my favourite few tracks by the Ting-Tings? Play-lists will become limp compared to the album driven experience!

Band Contribution

If bands release ‘here are a few decent tracks, please buy so you can sing-along on tour’ then we get more  of this big festival/short set experience. How will we get the minor players to write the one track each not by the main players in the band (look at a Police album; how many tracks did Ringo write?). This leads to lack of artistic credibility amongst members and less variation in product.
Fine not all these tracks are much good but they act as the ingredients of a rounded meal that let you appreciate the high points.

Does that matter?

I clearly think it does. Maybe the future is all random play lists, genre and year (or number of letters in the title) but I feel we lose something when we lose the concept of the album (including concept albums themselves!)

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About Tony Jones
Big Finish writer, reviewer and blogger, I'm interested in science fiction and Doctor Who. I review for CultBox, The Doctor Who Companion and others. I am also Audio Drama editor for Starburst Magazine, and write the occasional piece for Vortex, the BSFA critical magazine.

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