The Death of the Album

The onset of the internet has been beneficial in billions of different aspects of human life. It's hard writing an article that complains about one specific damaging effect that the internet causes when it's made human life so much easier and way more productive. Despite it's many positives, the internet is crucially destroying the art form known as the album.

Previous popular mediums of recorded music listening were vinyl records, tapes, and CD. Each medium would contain a set number of songs by the musical artist in order to express an overall musical idea. The album was one complete piece of music, broken up into separate tracks. Though the tracks deviated from one another, they were still considered one entity. The album was the big picture, whereas the tracks were the minute details. Single tracks still garnered popular success through radio and television, yet to obtain the music you enjoyed, it was common practice to purchase the album.

When you would pick up the album from a record store, there was a closer bond with the music.  Typically you would open the physical copy and sit in the floor with a lyrics sheet while you would play your brand new album endlessly.  Everywhere you went, you would blare the album.  Sometimes you'd even take it over to friends houses to let them experience it as well.

The album was subsequently broken down after the popular explosion of the internet. People quickly learned to burn CD's to their computers and post the individual tracks on peer-to-peer file sharing servers on the web. Albums were released digitally onto the internet, and a person can download a single MP3 track at a time from online music stores such as iTunes or Amazon.

This may seem like a harmless process, to simply be able to go online and purchase the song you heard on the radio that's stuck in your head without shelling out fifteen dollars, yet in thousands of cases, it ruins the artistic statement. In many circumstances, the album is the main idea and it is constructed in a specific way for a reason. If you were to go on iTunes and only purchase Money from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, you are ruining the original intent of the piece of artwork. In this specific circumstance, the album is deemed a concept album, meaning that it is unified by an overall theme. By only listening to one song from the concept album, you are taking away a majority of the intended substance. Many albums that are not considered "concept albums" are still one whole conjoined artwork, linked together by the tracks, expressing common themes, musical styles, and specifically for a reason.

To rip out one song from the album and only listening to that track specifically, is comparable to viewing only a small section of a visual artwork. If you were to only view Mona Lisa's smile and not see the rest of the painting, you wouldn't appreciate the overall work. By pulling one track and only viewing that, you are ignoring the entire artistic piece. By listening to an album as opposed to only selected tracks, you will have a clearer vision and more appreciation for the musical work.

The traditional album is almost dead. Artists are now going about different ways at releasing music, many of which are releasing songs in different methods. Artists such as Kanye West and The Smashing Pumpkins are releasing individual tracks online for free MP3 download. This method of dishing out music is one result of the traditional album's deterioration. As classic albums are sectioned off and broken up in online music stores, modern musicians can gather insight from that. The traditional album isn't worth the effort anymore and new ways must be used in order to share music.