Tag Archives: album

Albums Still Matter

I just read an article from a 2013 issue of Variety that practically said that the album is rapidly dying. Want to make a concept album? Go ahead, but know that it’s not going to reach a large amount of people. Like the dinosaurs, the album is becoming extinct, yet artists still stick to the format. Contrary to the article that Variety published, “physical formats still account for over half of all global revenues (IFPI, 2014)” (Brown and Knox, 2016). But what exactly is an album? Most of us would think of a physical copy of music, whether it be a CD or vinyl record. But it’s much bigger than that.

In tutorial the other week, we were bouncing around ideas about the term ‘album’ and I really liked concept of it as a cultural unifier. Clichéd as it sounds it brings people together. For example, I have Childish Gambino’s 2013 album Because the Internet (which you should all take a listen to). That album alone has a multitude of websites, forums, and entire Tumblr accounts dedicated to it. By having that album, I am now submerged into the culture of the Boy and roscoe’s wetsuit. I have invested countless hours surfing the web reading about the theories and meticulous analyses of each track from BTI. By reading these articles, there’s this invisible bond between all of us avid Gambino listeners.

But if people really think that the album is dying, why do people like me get so excited when they buy a physical copy of their favorite artist(s) work? There’s something about sitting down and listening to an album straight through and digesting the lyrics, instrumentals, and concepts/ideas that the artist raises. According to a study done by North and Oishi (2006)—which focused on why young adults from Japan and the U.K. purchase CDs—found that there were five factors into buying an album:

  1. Friendship- those who “borrowed [an album] from a friend”, “listen[ed] at a friend’s house”, or “liked listening [to it] with a friend” (pg. 3054)
  1. Need to control and be involved with music- those who “liked singing along to the music” or “listening to the music whenever [they] wanted” (pg. 3055)
  1. Music industry- those who “heard it in the record shop”, “favorite artist(s) recommended it”, or they liked “the picture/design of the CD cover/booklet” (pg. 3055)
  1. Need to re-experience the music- “reminder of good times”, “heard it in a film”, or “like listening to different types of music in different situations” (pg. 3055)
  1. Interaction with (particularly visual) media-“the picture/design of the CD cover/booklet” (Pg. 3055)

I can attest to these factors. I’ve definitely mixed and mingled those factors when purchasing an album. But it may be the generation that which you grew up in, the answer to if the album is dying, may differ. Baby boomers might not see the physical album dying, as that’s what they’ve grown up with. “The idea of downloaded ‘product’…was seen to be a more detached, modernist item, having less symbolically ‘magical’ and shared elements than vinyl artifacts…”(McIntyre, 2011 pg.145). Millennias and those of Gen Z might argue that it is and that they only digitally download/stream/pirate their music.

So for my research report, I think that I am going to focus on how cyberculture has affected the way in which music is being distributed. I’m still working out the details, but I’m thinking of breaking my report into sections. Maybe first looking at the vinyl/CD and the importance of the tracklist, the mixtape/playlist relationship, and then possibly end with digital distribution and how some artists will no longer be selling physical copies of their work  *cough, cough…Kanye*


Kanye tweets-stop selling phsyical CDs  copy
Via Twitter




Brown, S.C. and Knox, D., 2016. Why buy an album? The motivations behind recorded music purchases. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain26(1), p.79-86.

McIntyre, C., 2011. News from somewhere: The poetics of Baby Boomer and Generation Y music consumers in tracking a retail revolution. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services18(2), pp.141-151.

North, A.C. and Oishi, A., 2006. Music CD purchase decisions. Journal of Applied Social Psychology36(12), pp.3043-3084.



Let’s Talk About the CD

November 13, 2015. That was the last time I bought a physical copy of an album. I know it’s not that long ago, but considering the world that we live in today, buying a physical copy is something of the past. But when did it become the norm to stop buying CDs and to start digitally download or stream music? And why do artists still stick with the format of the album?

On August 17, 1982, the first compact disc was manufactured in a Philips factory in Germany. Philips soon joined forces with Sony to develop and perfect the compact disc. Later in the year, the first CDs and CD players were introduced to the masses in Japan with great interest. Two years later, the disc took Europe by storm, with roughly 25 million CDs being produced (“History of the CD” n.d.). With this new musical technology now open to the public, the vinyl was replaced placed on the back burner.

We all know what the CD looks like (or I hope we all do).It’s a polycarbonate plastic disc with a transparent layer only 1.2mm thick. And on that disc there is 80 minutes of playing time (Crawford n.d.). Think about it: with 80 minutes on a CD, that’s about an average of 12 songs per album. And it’s not like artists are releasing albums every six months. It takes time to write, create, and produce. So once an album does get released, loyal fans and consumers want to listen to it right away. The thought of having to go to the store to buy the album barely crosses our minds, especially those of Millennia and Generation Z. Why waste the energy of buying a physical copy when you could be digitally downloading the album and have it in seconds?

My focus is to research how our culture has shaped and re-shaped the way that the consumer has access to music. I will look into the affect the “album” has on not only the listener, but the artist as well. More specifically, I will dig into the digital distribution of music, the importance (or insignificance) of the track list, and the mixtape/playlist relationship. Who knows, maybe the CD will find a way to climb back up the charts with artists like Tyler the Creator and Kendrick Lamar perfecting the album-dependent listening experience.


Crawford, Awyn. “The Rise of the Compact Disc.” Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences. Web. 13 Mar. 2016<http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/the80sareback/2011/02/the-rise-of-the-compact-disc/&gt;.

“History of the CD.” Philips Research. Web. 13 Mar. 2016<http://www.research.philips.com/technologies/projects/cd/&gt;.