How digital music is killing my idea of the album

May 14, 2008

I haven’t gotten into digital music.  I don’t have an iPod and I don’t want one.

I know.  You are stunned.

How can it be that the girl who so loves technology can be so behind the times in this arena?

Here’s why:

I like the album as a concept.  I like the idea of musicians creating a complete piece of art.  Where one song leads to another and the songs together tell a bigger story.  I was never one to listen to just the “hit” song on an album.  I buy CD’s and if I want, I can copy them to my computer or my PDA.

If all we do in the future is sell individual songs, what motivation is there to create the art that is an album?  I find that sad.  I know that things change.  I know that what I want doesn’t matter and I try not to complain about it.

One thing I particularly love is cover art.  I like having a visual connection to my music.  In the world of the single song, album cover art becomes irrelevant, and that makes me sad, too.

I found an article today by an author who feels my pain but offers hope for the future.

Is Album Art Dying?

The music industry has undergone more drastic changes in the past 25 years then the previous 125 years before. In 1982, the compact disc was introduced to the public and replaced the need for LP’s and cassette tapes. With the introduction of Napster in 1999, music downloading has steadily become the recommended way to obtain music. Consumers no longer have to go to their local record store and buy music; it is now just a mouse click away. Moreover, there is no need to purchase an entire recording as you can now only purchase the tracks you want to listen to.

According to an article posted on Seeking Alpha in January of 2007, digital sales are showing a steady increase while album sales continue to decline. As this digital trend maintains momentum, will the need for album covers eventually be phased out like records were? Is visual art in music packaging dying?

Album art has long been just as important as the music on the record. Can you imagine a different cover for Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or Nirvana’s Nevermind? The album cover evokes what is inside and you can almost hear the music simply by looking at it.

Read the rest of the article here.

I don’t see how a one inch square photo can give me the same thrill as a big LP did, but I will try to keep up with the times so that you all don’t call me an old fart.

The technology I do like is satellite radio.  We have Click! cable at the salon, I have Sirius in my car and the husband has XM in his.  I like not having commercials, and I like having someone else mix the music.  Not knowing what is coming is interesting to me.


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