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Radiohead Sets Another Example by Saying Good Riddance to the Album

Okay, so the traditional album is dead - Get over it. The album died when the physical product of a CD, cassette, etc. lost prominence and importance amongst the average consumer. This may make the true music fanatic question the artistic integrity of a musician - Singles? I want a body of work. But what does this really mean?  The album, for all practical matters, is just a figment of our imagination - created by the limited amount of storage space on a CD and an industry standard set by hegemonic major labels. Most albums contain a few hits and the rest acts as almost a filler. There are definitely albums that can be considered an entire piece of work, take Dark Side of the Moon for example, but these albums are few and far between. Today, consumers seek out something from artists that couldn’t be produced at such scale before the advent of the internet: content and lots of it.  

 The move towards singels and EP’s reflects this shift in music consumption away from a physical body of work to creating unique, high quality content across multiple online and physical channels.  In many ways this puts more pressure on the artist to crank out high quality tracks each and every time.   The album no longer masks the shitty filler tracks of the past. Instead,  artists can release a single online and allow people to digest that one track (whether they fall in love with it and can’t get it out of their head, or absolutely hate it) leaving them wanting more or wondering what else they can expect from the artist.  This is what the traditional radio has done for artists in the past, except now the distribution platform is the internet, which has an incredible reach, and is open to anyone to publish whatever they like.  

Releasing content gradually helps stimulate demand and leaves people coming back for more, which is especially true amongst Gen Y-ers and an incredibly short attention span.   In the past a band would release a CD, then tour for a few years, and fans would be stuck listening to the same album for at least 2 years before the artist had fresh tracks.  Today an artist can distribute music whenever and however they might want.  If music consumption patterns continue to trend in the way that they are, the bands  that will have the most success will be those who consistently and constantly create good content (music & video especially.)   Through exclusive content, they can create a consistent following who will frequently visit their website, social media profiles, and concerts always expecting and receiving something new and fresh -  (hmm sounds almost like a blogging strategy.)  Once that community is created, artists can utilize it as a direct channel to sell merchandise, concert tickets, premium packages etc. (Things people are willing to pay for). So cheers to you Radiohead for taking another step toward a bright future in the music industry.


Reader Comments (2)

Yes. The album is dead. Get over it. Singles rule, whether us artists like it or not. I happen to be a literate music artist who develops thematic albums. Yet, I've seen the handwriting on the wall and have been developing a new singles-release strategy. I think of it as serialization, the same kind that Mark Twain and many other authors have practiced. In the long run, these singles can, ultimately, be collected into album form. I'll be looking with great interest at what Thom Yorke and the heads come up with. We'll see. BTW, just posted on this myself.

August 24 | Unregistered CommenterAllen Shadow

LMFAO. Yeah, everyone will proclaim the death of the album up until the Dixie Chicks post up a 1 million opening week and then the flock will change direction. It's always something.

The music business is...diversifying. There are now multiple strategies and platforms for artists to play with. We can keep portraying it as The Death Of XYZ, or the ______ Revolution, but meanwhile artists have to make money. This manifesto has been written before, artists need information more than cheerleading.

That's what Moms are for. MTT is something more.

August 24 | Unregistered CommenterJustin Boland

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