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...because it's really hard to put together a cohesive bunch of music that's consistent, hangs together, and flows. It's so much easier just to pop a single out there, and call it good.

I'm in the final stages of mastering my album, and every day, I listen to it while taking a walk and take notes on any tweaks that need to be made. I want it to sound like a band that played together for a few days and made an album, not pieced together over months by a guy sitting in a home studio. I want the levels of the instruments to be consistent, and have mostly the same sound.

For example, in the first song I did for the album, I used one company's drum module. It sounded fine. For the next song, I tried a different one, and it fit the music better so I used it for the remaining songs. But when I listened to the entire album, having that one song with a different drum sound just didn't sound right. So I did a "drum transplant," and it made a difference.

Vocals are tough, too. After cutting a few songs I realized I needed to cut the vocals at pretty much the same time during the day. Now, you might think "this is dumb, what's wrong with a little variety?" Well, musically it didn't really matter, but it terms of making an album that sounded like an album, it did matter.

These days with 5 people writing a song, 26 producers working on it, and session musicians phoning in parts from all over the world...that's just not going to sound like a cohesive musical statement, the way albums used to feel.

Is this crazy talk, or am I on to something?

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To further complicate matters in this "post record label" age genres are not the sieve they once were.

I am having enormous difficulty coming up with templates that make any sense. When I was in a pop band, there were parameters of style. Metal band, same thing. Fusion band, boundaries.

With no boundaries I'm spinning my wheels in a morass of an Uncanny Valley of styles that fight each other from an audio engineering standpoint. Stylistically I can move between things, but then making the sound itself work with it is an unexpected chore. It's like a buffet with no concept, with lo mein, enchiladas and Korean sushi on your plate with vanilla ice cream melting on top. Glop.

No, that's a bad analogy. Having one song that has a thinned-out arrangement because of the density against a sparse but thick sound creates havoc. With everything on the table it's hard to remove things. So - I think things have to be "steered" towards a DAW template, but one that is limiting somewhat stylistically. Which is the trick.


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An additional part of the problem with albums is that there aren't many people any more who get excited about an album and don't want to listen for a half hour or more of hung-together music. It's not like when I was in college and when someone bought a new album, it was cause for a listening party with friends. I don't think they do that any more other than on Facebook or YouTube where they can exchange comments with thousands of friends they've never met.

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I love albums - I love listening to them and I like making them. I usually conceive of music that way, either in albums or in projects.

The algorithms of the streaming services, trying to stay relevant to journalists and fans, and the short attention spans of listeners make it less and less likely that I will release full albums again (never mind the boxes of unsold CDs in my house). Something I learned in watching the release strategy for the Brazilian artist Cézar Mendes was that if you split the release schedule up, you can convince media outlets to cover you; if you get buzz around the first single, all the people who ignored you might cover you for the second or third single. If you release the album in one shot, you only have one window to get publicity, reviews, etc.

The next project is definitely going to be a series of singles over the course of months. I don't see any benefit to releasing a full album, especially when I can't tour.


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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
An additional part of the problem with albums is that there aren't many people any more who get excited about an album and don't want to listen for a half hour or more of hung-together music.

This is very true. Fortunately I'm not doing my album projects for the money, so I don't have to worry about what would lead to commercial success. As to who will listen to it, the people who like my stuff will listen to it, and the people who don't, won't. I have noticed that when I broke my albums out into singles, the albums got far more clicks on YouTube than the singles. I'd like to think that's because I really do try to create something that's more like a sonic movie than a collection of songs, and why I put so much work into coming up with videos for the songs that also help to hold a project together.

Interesting, I did a collection of singles for my 2019 project, and it has fewer clicks by far than the "album" projects. Of course, since all my projects are different, another possibility is that people didn't like the music as much so they didn't share the link with friends or whatever.

Ultimately, I make the albums for myself because it's the kind of music I want to hear. Fortunately, there are other people who want to hear it too, but I'd make the albums even if no one else listened to them. And I still like the idea of having a cohesive musical experience rather than just doing playlists.

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Another issue - people don't consume music the same way the used to, nor do many have convenient ways to play back hard media any more. Not even computers have CD drives any more. The car is pretty much the last home of a CD player, along with those whose video gaming system is plugged into their home entertainment system.

I'm becoing more and more convinced people are less likely to listen to albums when the streaming/playlist option exists.

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People still make albums, but only a few songs get popular and are well-known. It's not a time where people are like "Yeah, I'm gonna go get that new [insert artist here] album", or "[insert artist]'s new album is great!". It's more like "Hey, did you hear that new [insert artist] song?". Albums are released, but the emphasis is on singles.


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The majority of my purchases on Bandcamp have been whole albums, not individual tracks.

I bought a bunch of them last Friday in fact as part of the latest Bandcamp Friday event.

A lot of artists on Bandcamp also offer a physical option, such as vinyl disc. However, half the time it seems by the time I decide to buy the album, the physical vinyl is already sold out.

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Warning: includes boomer reminisences.

We bought 45s when I was 10, 11. That's '64, '65. You don't have "reasons" at that age, you just do what other kids do, what's at hand. Adults had albums they played on those giant wooden stereo consoles. Seemed a waste to me - the adults had that nice gear, but hardly listented to their collection - The Music Man, a Bizet opera, Bing Crosby Christmas, Sing Along With Mitch, the soundtrack to A Summer Place, and Al Hirt, Kate Smith, The Four Lads.

We had The Beatles, The Byrds, The Animals, The Beach Boys, Booker T and the MGs, Wilson Pickett, Aretha, Deep Purple, The Rascals, The Stones. etc..we played all their 45s on a plastic record player, sneaking our records onto the big Living Room Stereo and cranking it up when the parents were out. Dad was always sure our 45s would ruin the needle on his big showcase/furniture piece stereo.

So it was Revolver and Pet Sounds, basically, that got us started buying albums. A sort of golden age of The Album had commenced (of course, this leaves out classical music lovers, jazz hounds, etc.) By '68, albums were the only thing people talked much about. 45s were for little kids - Alvin and the Chipmunks and whatnot.

But people have changed - it's pretty universally remarked on. Too busy, too ADHD, too many phones and other distractions. I'm amazed the LP format has lasted as long as it has.

I still have Sunday afternoons where I block out 3-4 hours to just listen to music...and at least once a week I do some deep listening to classical or jazz or ambient or whatever hopefullly merits the close attention. I buy music scores of classical stuff and follow the sheet music while the music plays. It's just food and drink for the soul for me. But I feel like a holdover from some other era...some other time and place with different interests, a different pace, a different idea of what things are both challenging and entertaining at the same time.

How long has it been since you've been to someone's house and they make a point of showing off the stereo system, and place you in the "listening chair" set up in the sweet spot, hoping to see your eyes light up and a big smile cross your face?

nat

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Originally Posted by Nowarezman
How long has it been since you've been to someone's house and they make a point of showing off the stereo system, and place you in the "listening chair" set up in the sweet spot, hoping to see your eyes light up and a big smile cross your face?

nat

Last time for me was around 2011 or 2012. This was after vinyl became cool again thanks to college kids getting excited about hitting up record stores and Record Store Day events. Ironically, older people started calling them hipsters for seeking out and buying vinyl records.

The record played was either by Zola Jesus or Sigur Ros - I forgot.

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When asked what my style is, I falter and mumble "Uh, eclectic?" I loved full-side prog epics in about the same way I loved collections of unrelated, odd things. Early 'sampler' albums that showed off 10 different artists were a favorite and no less so decades later. EG Records had a sampler that was like a day-long concert of its own in variety. I have some basic personal approaches that I prefer, but I also get wild hairs that lead to marimba-centric explorations or some strange choral venture. I leap about because I get bored easily if I plod along in one style for too long. Whether I am restless or insane is outside the point of the thread.

My own attention span has suffered from our tidal waves of socio-cultural crap. I just bought a safety backup for my TV remote because I'm smudging the MUTE button clean on the current one. OTOH, little pleases me as much as taking in an entire new Tom Waits album for the first time. You interrupt that, I will CUT you. Don't try me. Todd may be Godd, but Tom sweeps up and keeps the fuse box healthy. I call myself fortunate to be able to drink in the form at hand as it presents itself.

I suppose I must submit to the world's single-track consumption habits somewhat, but I'm on the right path. Back in the more prominent cassette age, I had a casual friend tell me that my current 'album' was "like a travelogue that ended far too soon." Aside from "Here's your check, sir," can you really ask to hear anything better?


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Originally Posted by Nowarezman
I'm amazed the LP format has lasted as long as it has.

Any media always seems to find a niche in its afterlife. I have no illusions that doing "albums" isn't swimming upstream, but I don't care. I think there's still room for something where you can lie down for 20 minutes or so, put on headphones, and get lost in a sonic world. (Or in my case, watch a 20 minute movie where more attention is paid to the soundtrack than usual smile )

Any artist makes art for themselves first, and their audience second. Sometimes their tastes align...sometimes they don't. As long as people leave comments on my YouTube channel about how much they like the music, that's all that matters to me. The only difference between 1,800 streams and 18,000,000 streams is whether i can make any money from it!

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It's been a long time since I've bought an album, and when I do, it's usually a CD to support an artist friend. I might play it often, I might play it once or twice. But then, (to most readers here) my music isn't your music. I appreciated The Beatles and how creative their recording projects were, but their music, in general, never moved me in any way other than technical or creative-for-creative's sake, not great meaningful lyrics or melodies. You can't dance to most of it.

What impresses me these days is a fiddle player who isn't just re-creating a tune recorded 90 years ago, but is using the elements of those tunes and songs, and, with a traditional playing style, creates new material in the spirit and essence of the old music, and which will - at least some of the output, as they tend to be far more prolific than the Fiddling John Carson recordings that we can hear today - be preserved by future artists to retain the style, and built on to create new music.

So don't think I hate music. I just get bored with so much of what's coming out today - and I won't fault you for not appreciating new music played on a home made gourd banjo.

What I do listen to a lot when I'd doing something else and just sort of absorbing music that sometimes catches my ear and makes me stop what I'm doing for a couple of minutes (and thanks for that) is radio programs. Almost any time of the day or night I can tune in WWOZ and not get turned off by what the DJ is playing. There are certain shows on WEVL and WWOZ, KBCS, and WETA (including Bluegrass Country) that keep me fed. But if you ask me what I heard ten minutes ago, I probably couldn't tell you.

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I am certainly not an average music consumer. I don't recall ever downloading music from the web, just for one. Not against the delivery system, I just don't "consume" much music of any kind on any format.

Once or twice a week at the most, I will listen to some recorded music on purpose. It could be anything, my tastes are pretty broad.
Like most listeners, I tend to go through phases where I will listen to an artist, a style, an album or a song a few times and absorb the flavors.

I"ve noticed that often if I really like something immediately it doesn't hold up for long term replay. And the other side of the coin, something I am not sure I like may become a favorite after a few listens.

I'm not sure how much affect it has on the market but there is always a HUGE random selection of CDs at thrift stores - priced from ten cents to 2 dollars.
I went into a thrift store a few years back and they were overstocked so CDs were 10 for $1. I bought things I might pass on, just to see what would happen.

I still hate the Grateful Dead. I suspect that is eternal and hopeless. I grabbed about sixty cents worth of their albums and could only stand a few random minutes of different discs. I just donated them to some other thrift store, I hope somebody enjoys them. I never will.


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Some interesting stats from Bandcamp:

https://bandcamp.com/

"Fans have paid artists $615 million using Bandcamp, and $17.6 million in the last 30 days alone."

Who is "not making albums"? wink

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Pop has been a singles game for a LONG time. It's really hard to make 10 "hits" and put them together in a way that links them. I think relatively few musicians are targeting "Top40" kinds of accolades.

But that isn't very much related to making a cohesive statement (ie. art). In the sweep of an album, each piece has context, and serve a role within that context. An album is the equivalent of a gallery show for a painter or photographer. It takes a lot of work to make a larger body of work. It is a bigger statement. It is a different statement of maturity as an artist. It still has meaning and always will. Not every one understands this or appreciates it. But musicians do. Fellow artists do. Those who care do. It still matters.

When I stumble across a great track on Spotify, I am always hoping it is from an album. I will immediately switch and listen to the whole album. It is disappointing when its just a "track".

But, in the "preaching to the choir" category, I've sat and listened to whole albums since early teen years. That hasn't changed and isn't likely to.

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I work with a lot of people in their 20s and 30s (as well as kids, for that matter). They know a lot of music from yesteryear, probably more than most people here give them credit for.

However, they don't seem to listen to albums very much. And much of it is the way that they listen to music. Whether it's Spotify playlists or shuffle mode or whatever it is, they know songs but not albums typically.

And I think this is that sort of dog-chasing-its-tail sort of scenario. Much of it is the way music is presented now. People don't walk in to a store and buy an album. They listen to streaming stuff. In turn, this is the way they prefer to listen to music.

And artists, realizing that people don't listen to albums, often release their songs whenever they darn well please, keeping their audiences engaged. Or if they love something and want to get out out there fast, they can do that too.

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Everything I bought Bandcamp last Friday is a recently released EP or LP length album.

No singles.

Here are some:

Curve - Blindfold EP (Alan Moulder mixes)
https://curve.bandcamp.com/album/blindfold-ep

Anthony Pirog (Messthetics guitarist) - Pocket Poem
https://cuneiformrecords.bandcamp.com/album/pocket-poem-2

We Are King - We Are King
https://wearekingmusic.bandcamp.com/album/we-are-king

Ok, the last was actually released in 2016, not 2020.

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Originally Posted by KenElevenShadows
I work with a lot of people in their 20s and 30s (as well as kids, for that matter). They know a lot of music from yesteryear, probably more than most people here give them credit for.

Hmmm...actually, I think one of the comments that often happens around these parts is how "the younger generation" listens to rock from before their time, in direct contradistinction to previous generations that rejected music from their previous generations. I think a lot of the fetishism regarding tubes, tape, vintage gear, etc. actually comes from people who did not grow up with those technologies, because they want "that sound." Of course, those weren't what made for "that sound." But that's another topic...

Quote
And artists, realizing that people don't listen to albums, often release their songs whenever they darn well please, keeping their audiences engaged.

I know that's what I'm supposed to do, but I don't. If people assemble my songs in a playlist, I want them to hang together.

Then again, I'm an anomaly. I see what I do as a morphing of a short-form movie and a book, with songs as the vehicle. All the albums I've done have a narrative, and each song is like a chapter. It would be weird to me to write a book, release a chapter, then a month later release another chapter, etc.

I'm definitely NOT saying my mindset is correct or desirable! It's my chosen art form, like some choose watercolors or oils, and some choose prog rock. I'm happy that people like my music. It's fine if other people aren't interested in it, it's not like they don't have plenty of choices of how to get their joy smile

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Originally Posted by Anderton
Originally Posted by KenElevenShadows
I work with a lot of people in their 20s and 30s (as well as kids, for that matter). They know a lot of music from yesteryear, probably more than most people here give them credit for.

Hmmm...actually, I think one of the comments that often happens around these parts is how "the younger generation" listens to rock from before their time, in direct contradistinction to previous generations that rejected music from their previous generations. I think a lot of the fetishism regarding tubes, tape, vintage gear, etc. actually comes from people who did not grow up with those technologies, because they want "that sound." Of course, those weren't what made for "that sound." But that's another topic...

So true about the younger generation (of a couple of generations ago) not listening to the music that their parents loved. Back in the 1970s and '80s, kids who wanted to learn the older blues or string band music went to their grandparents. Those who rejected their parents' music listened to the radio or records, and some of them did a really good job of evolving a new way to play older music. The young Cajun and zydeco bands today have some serious roots in their music, and you can dance to it.

These people make and sell albums, but most of them sell their music it the old fashioned way - by playing live gigs. I don't know how this will affect the music for the next couple of years but I think it will continue to survive another generation as a result of recordings from this generation of musicians.

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Originally Posted by Anderton
Then again, I'm an anomaly.

No, you're not. Lots of new albums on Bandcamp.

Put up an album there. It'll probably sell.

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Originally Posted by GovernorSilver
Originally Posted by Anderton
Then again, I'm an anomaly.

No, you're not. Lots of new albums on Bandcamp.

Well the anomalous aspect was the video+audio element, but I see that there's a Bandcamp "pro" option where you can put up videos. So...

Quote
Put up an album there. It'll probably sell.

I'll give it a shot and see what happens!

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It's curious to figure out if things are outliers on the long tail or not. Bandcamp seems to be in an uncanny valley.


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If artists truly collected over $600 million in just the last 30 days from fans on Bandcamp, I say let's see if our man Anderton can get his slice of that pie.

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That averages out to $1,700 per artist...not bad.

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Originally Posted by GovernorSilver
If artists truly collected over $600 million in just the last 30 days from fans on Bandcamp, I say let's see if our man Anderton can get his slice of that pie.

Well actually...that figure is over the lifetime of Bandcamp. In the last 30 days, it's $17 MM. They claim "hundreds of thousands of artists" so if we assume 350K, that's $47 for last month. In other words, 4,600% more than you would have gotten from Spotify smile

I'm gonna check it out anyway, that $47 a month could keep me in guitar strings. Nuthin' wrong with that!


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