Is the album format really over?
The old way of spending half a year recording an album, then going on a marketing/promotion tour before its release, so you could have massive first week sales just doesn’t work anymore.
Protest The Hero were in my face for six months, with their “Pacific Myth” Subscription via Bandcamp. One song was released each month. It was brilliant. We (the fans) focused on each song for a month. We talked about each song and then when the conversation was over, we got hit with another one.
On top of that, we also got a video each month that covered the “Volition” fan funded album cycle. Further to that, we got drum through videos, food cooking videos and guitar tabs for the songs.
The band should keep at it. Not stop. Release a jam cover song here and there, write a stock standard metal song in the vein of Metallica’s “Black” album, put some demo’s out there of a work in progress, release a live recording and so forth. The band could be doing all of the above, while they now promote the vinyl/EP release of “Pacific Myth”.
Which brings me to the album.
I am really forming the view that the album is purely for the record label. It’s the only way the labels know, how to get an artist to sign away their copyrights to them, so the label could reap the benefits for hundreds of years after. In other words its a pure cash grab for the label.
The new way is to be making new music constantly and releasing it. But it wont happen because there is always a view that each release needs to be monetized to maximum.
But for an artist, how does the album cycle work.
They will release the album. It might even chart. A month later no one apart from the hard-core fans care about it. We move on. And that year the artist spent refining those twelve tracks, only got them four weeks’ worth of attention.
So what now.
They might go on tour and the album might come back into the conversation.
Is anyone talking about the new album from Three Doors Down, four weeks after it was released?
The answer is NO.
But people are still talking about Five Finger Death Punch. “Got Your Six” is still selling units and it’s getting streamed. “Dystopia” from Megadeth is still in the conversation, four months after it was released. “Immortalized” from Disturbed is still selling on the back of “The Sound Of Silence”.
For some bands, the album works and for others it doesn’t.
But, what is clear, is the game has changed.
Artists need to be making music constantly. Artists are musician’s first, business people next.
So what is the purpose of the album?
The album is for the hard-core fans. If an artist doesn’t have a track that converts people, they will need to go back and keep on writing. Because for an artist to survive, they must always be gaining new fans while they keep their existing fans.
And the MTV world of global superstars is gone. Over.
No one dominates like the times of old. Chaos is the world we have right now. Previously magazines like Hit Parader, Circus, RIP, Metal Edge, Faces would tell us what was important. Then those magazines sold their pages to PR companies controlled by the labels and the fans ignored them.
Now we are overwhelmed with content and there is no worldwide ranking to tell us what to tune in or out off. Hell, I don’t even know when new music is coming out from my favourite artists, until it hits my Spotify new releases. And that’s not always on release date. Tremonti is a perfect example. The new album “Dust” has been out since April 29, however it is being withheld from Spotify.
I pay my monthly fee and for some reason, I’m being punished for it by the artists I’m trying to support. Talk about treating fans like shit.
But YouTube who pays much less has fan uploads of the album and pirate sites who pay nothing have a torrent up.
So chances of getting traction are slimmer. It’s a level playing field.
Good is no longer good enough, not if you want to get ahead.
Remember when Dokken broke up and we had Lynch Mob and Don Dokken albums. They were good and it’s debatable if they were great, because great is such a subjective word. But in the end, the albums of both bands had a lot of crap in them.
Which brings me to the question?
10 to 12 tracks packaged in an album every 2 years vs 4 songs in an EP every 3 months.