iTunes: Killer of full length albums
Remember a time when an album was a piece of art? When the order of the songs on album mattered? When people actually bought and LISTENED to entire albums? I feel like those days are sadly long gone, and I primarily blame iTunes.
When iTunes launched in the spring of 2003, it allowed for something that had never really happened before: purchasing a single song from an album. Album singles were not a new concept, usually containing a radio single, and a b-side tune. Being able to purchase ANY single song digitally, you no longer needed to expose yourself to anything other than what is already packaged for you on the radio, because you were no longer forced to pay for it all.
When music went digital, the playlist was born. While on the surface, it was merely an extension of the mix tape, the cost of blank tapes/cds was no longer in the equation. People could simply drag and drop their favorite songs into a list to listen to on their player of choice, and easily email those lists to anyone they wanted to.
Streaming is all the rage these days. Services like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Radio are pulling people even further away from listening to a full album, as now you don’t need to purchase ANYTHING. All you have to do is sign up for or subscribe to a service, and start picking out songs you like. This leaves artists with very little motivation to put he time and passion into a full album’s worth of material like they used to.
When I hear a single song from albums like Dark Side of the Moon, Tommy, or American Idiot, I immediately want to listen to these albums front to back. These types of concept albums have always been the exception, but at the same time, they are some of the most creative albums a band can put out. With the current state of the music industry, I just don’t see albums like these being created anymore. Maybe I’m just stuck in the past. This seems like a major loss to me though.