Opinion: Music albums are not dead
This summer you probably jammed out to a lot of new music. Whether you were burning up to the Jonas Brothers’s new album, dancing through a tropical vacation with Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes or cruising down your hometown roads with Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus, there were plenty of songs for you to choose from.
There were also plenty of ways to listen to these artists and more for free.
In September of 2018, I wrote an article arguing that — although media like YouTube, Spotify and iTunes have forced the music industry to evolve — the album stands strong as the primary way for artists to release new music.
I argued that even though free music streaming services would seem to hurt artists trying to release a traditional album, innovative artists were able to roll with the times and use modern media to make the album stronger than ever.
According to the article by Elias Leight in the Rolling Stones that I cited in my previous article, artists utilized free music streaming services to steadily release multiple singles before their album dropped as proof that the new album would be well worth listening to — and maybe purchasing.
This summer’s onslaught of singles and new albums continues to prove my point.
Just as Taylor Swift released four singles before releasing “Reputation,” she released four singles — ”Me!”, “You Need to Calm Down” “Lover” and “Archer” — before her new album “Lover.”
The four singles met with very different reactions.
“Me!”, a collaboration with Panic! At the Disco’s Brendon Urie, left most of the Taylor Swift fans I know disappointed, and “You Need to Calm Down” sparked controversy, according to a USA Today article.
On the other hand, “Lover” and “The Archer” are both softer, uncontroversial and seemingly enjoyed by everyone.
According to an article by Billboard, the album received overall positive reviews from critics and fans alike, so the controversy surrounding the first two singles obviously did not hurt the album.
In fact, whether she planned it or not, releasing questionable singles first probably ended up drawing more attention to the coming album and made the more popular singles appear even better.
The Jonas Brothers also made waves with the release of their new album and beginning of their tour. “Happiness Begins,” released June 7, was preceded by only two singles, “Sucker” and “Cool.”
Although this would seem to break the trend of trickling out a small handful of singles before dropping an album, the hype surrounding the Jonas Brothers’ comeback spilled into the social media of ecstatic fans. In its own way, this free press fit the new method of album marketing.
In my last article I also talked about artists doing collaborations as a way of getting music out while still developing a new album. An article by Tilly Pearce in the Sun that I cited in my previous music article said that Ed Sheeran was planning on doing several collaborations before he dropped and album. This summer, Justin Bieber and Sheeran released the single “I Don’t Care” together.
Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes also collaborated to create “Señorita,” which has rotated through the Billboard top 100 throughout the summer.
Collaborations like these give all the artists involved in creating a song attention and the ability to put new music out while developing a traditional album.
Whether singles, new albums or collaborations, the top pop artists provided plenty of summertime music for fans to enjoy.