In a recent interview with the Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune, Billy Corgan stated that The Smashing Pumpkins would no longer make albums in order to concentrate their attentions on singles, “The listening patterns have changed, so why are we killing ourselves to do albums, to create balance, and do the arty track to set up the single? It's done."
As CD sales plummet year after year, I keep hearing that ‘the Album is dead.’ However, just because more people are getting their music digitally, does that mean that a solid collection of tunes no longer has value? I mean, you can download the whole album just as easily as you can a single track… so why the shift? Maybe it’s because the iPod age has made ‘shuffling’ easier than ever and so having a bunch of good songs from many different artist at you fingertips is far easier than it used to be; you don’t even have to make a mix CD, you just point, click and drag it into your playlist.
But does that make a group of songs that work together as a collective whole any less valuable? In fact, some of my favorite releases of the past year are albums where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts: Viva La Vida, 808 and Heartbreak, Chinese Democracy….
Is there any reason why singles and albums can’t co-exist separately as they once did in the 60s? If anything, I think the reason that albums haven’t been doing as well is because fewer artist are trying to make really good albums; they’re all concentrating on the single. Personally, I think that if you make a solid album, people will listen. That’s not to say that the more casual music fan still won’t prefer the single but the single has always been the preferred format for the casual music fan. The only difference is that, now, it’s easier (and more economically sound) than ever for them to avoid buying the whole album just to get the song (s) they want.
Thoughts on this?