It’s been seventy years since the album as we know it was born, and BBC Music have organised the first ever National Album Day to celebrate – with events happening throughout the week including pitch-black playbacks, in-store performances and special radio programming. 

It’s got us thinking about the significance and relevance of a format that’s now existing beyond the restrictive physical properties that led to its creation. Here at Outpost, we’re constantly adapting to the shifts in technology and consumption trends in order to promote new music effectively and develop meaningful PR campaigns for our clients. 

We’ve opened up the discussion with a number of labels, managers and distributors from the UK and across Europe who have shared their thoughts on the topic below. Enjoy these insights, and check out more from our Outsight Report series here.

100% RECORDS

Ed Macdonald


“It’s undoubtedly true that parts of the music industry are experiencing some growing pains with the contrasting opportunities that both the vinyl revival and streaming era represent. However, it’s also true that the album format is the only game in town for an artist who wants to produce a cohesive body of work which represents their vision at that time in their history. We Are Scientists are a perfect example of this – we’ve put out their most recent three albums. All three stand on their own merits and show  sonic progression from one project to the next (even if the band do insist that albums must always have precisely ten tracks!)”

WHOLE ENTERTAINMENT

Ross Patel


“The music landscape is ever changing. There has never been such a vast amount of music to listen to and such a large number of ways by which to consume it. In my opinion, the album format holds just as much relevance and significance (albeit a different kind of relevance) to singles and EPs. It’s an important step for artists to take in their careers. It allows them to expand and reach out beyond existing fan bases by offering a body of work that reflects their broader creativity. In February 2019, Elder Island will release their debut album following two previously released five track EPs and two singles. The record was written and produced for the optimum vinyl listening experience but will of course work digitally. The track listing will take the listener on a journey that simply would not be possible in an EP or run of singles. The record will be peppered with interludes and ideas that would only make sense in an album format. Elder Island’s ‘The Omnitone Collection’ is a thing of beauty – to be heard and appreciated in its entirety.”

SECRETLY GROUP

Suzy Moosa


“I grew up on playlists and making my own compilation CDs, however the resurgence of vinyl has definitely helped me personally to connect with albums. Vinyl has definitely helped preserve the album and also spike the interest of an audience who were never anchored to albums initially. It goes without saying that the paradigm shift in music consumption over the past couple of decades has immensely impacted the album as a concept. There seems to be more desire for singles in today’s climate and it has been argued that if albums contained more tracks that were targeted as singles then this could help rejuvenate album clout.”

BELIEVE ITALY

Corrado Dierna


“For us, putting an album out on CD and vinyl is very important, and even though some of our releases are clearly directed at customers that only consume music digitally, we know that most artists (especially the ones that have been round for quite a while) are keen to offer complete albums to their loyal fan bases. Especially as the vinyl market continues to exist, the album remains to be a vital format.”

No3 Records

Kristoffer Bang


“The uprising of streaming may be increasing our capability to access and discover new music and artists, but the concept of the album as a full body of work that communicates a narrative or an artist’s creative vision at a particular moment in time, remains as important and inspiring as ever.”

UNIVERSAL MUSIC

Claire Morel

“We tend to release more and more LPs – which is great –  but there are not enough vinyl plants to cover this appetite for wax – which is problematic! So you really have to think twice: is the format really appropriate? If yes, how will production deadlines affect your campaign? I think it really helps putting a project into perspective. Some releases make sense on LPs as it’s part of the project aesthetic and storytelling. Some others are only made for the dematerialised world and immediate consumption.”

BE THE MEDIA MGMT

Chris Butler


“The past two years have seen a great shift in the adoption of streaming. Now that it’s become generally accepted that a song is added to all DSPs simultaneously when its serviced to press and radio, I believe that it makes sense to release at least two singles before making the entire album available. In fact, with some new artists (and dependent on the type of music) it makes sense to me for an album to be made available in its entirety far later in the campaign. Possibly even at the end, i.e. release the whole album incrementally as individual tracks (as I am currently doing with Because Music on a new artist I manage called Mind Enterprises). The truth is though, that there is no “right or wrong” way to do it now. 

I think you have to really consider the method for each artist, and it may vary according to a number of factors – are they touring, are they a dance artist so getting club plays etc, do they already have an audience waiting for an album? But I would say that for any artist, the most important thing now is creating a campaign that maintains attention, and once a whole album is available on streaming services that is a great deal harder to do. So (with some exceptions), it’s more now about individual ‘tracks’ and less about albums or traditional ‘singles’ and more about keeping people interested and focused upon an artist.”

Podcasts

TAPE NOTES

Album therapy for artists and producers


If you’re looking for more insight into how much importance is placed on the art and craft of creating an album, look no further than the Tape Notes Podcast by In The Woods. Hosted by John Kennedy, each episode reunites an artist and producer to talk about the highlights of their collaboration in the studio. Their conversations lift the lid on every stage of the creative process, from kindling the first spark of a song idea, through decisions on style and instrumentation, to finessing the final product – and it’s full of fascinating anecdotes and unique insights. 

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