Opinion: Music albums have changed

Ah, the album. That collection of songs crafted and arranged by artists and producers and sold to the public as one unit. Too bad it’s dying. Or is it?

In college, listening to music is a regular activity. Whether studying for a test, commuting to campus or relaxing on the weekend in the dorms, music is often involved. And for most college students, streaming services and on-demand music have replaced the tradition album
as the media of choice.

Streaming services like Spotify, iTunes, YouTube and more have revolutionized the music industry and allowed people everywhere to listen to a variety of music more cheaply and conveniently than ever before, but do they abolish the demand for music
published in an album?

The album is not dead; it is evolving to offer more freedom to artists and consumers.

According to an article by Tilly Pearce in The Sun, Ed Sheeran’s fourth album probably will not be released for another few years to give Sheeran more time to work. However, the increasingly popular Irish singer said he “might put other stuff out before then, just to have something out.” Sheeran said he might also collaborate with other artists this year.

Kanye West takes a different approach to releasing his music, according to Business Insider. With only seven songs comprising its 23 minutes, many consider “Ye” an EP rather than an album. 

The alternative band Twenty One Pilots released four singles for their new album over the course of the summer. Twenty One Pilots’ website lists their singles “Jumpsuit,” “Nico and the Niners,” “Levitate” and “My Blood” to promote their new album, “Trench,” which will release Oct. 5, three years after their
last album. 

Sheeran, West and Twenty One Pilots are only a few of many artists who have begun releasing more music outside the confines of an album. According to Elias Leight of Rolling Stone, both newer artists like Camila Cabello and established artists like Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake have begun releasing several singles before their albums instead of the
traditional one or two. 

In his article, Leight points to social media and music streaming to explain this phenomenon. He quotes Robbie Snow, SVP of Global Marketing Records for Hollywood Studios, who said that “in this day and age, we try to keep things flowing so artists almost never go away. Fans want to be engaged constantly with artists
that they like.”

Although this could look like the beginning of the end for the album, it could be a pioneering, shrewd business strategy that will end up promoting albums and benefitting artists and listeners. 

Since listeners will most likely be able to listen to a new album for free anyway once it is released, artists have begun giving them more music sooner as an advertising tactic. That way, in theory, listeners can have a better gauge on whether they like an album. If they do, they will be more likely to buy it when it comes out. 

Consumers obviously have the benefit of being able to listen to more music before the album
is released. 

The album is not dead. Artists have adapted with the times to find the best way to market their product and to keep the album alive for a long time to come.

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