Beyond the numerous hit singles, the exciting videos, the magical performances that characterize the careers of successful artists, the great albums that these artists create form part of their career highlights. For instance, it is almost impossible to detail Wande Coal’s career without a mention of the success of the Mushin 2 Mo’Hits album. Likewise, Tuface’s illustrious career would be made light without a testament to the impact of the Grass to Grace album. It is a lore: great artists have great albums to show in their catalogue.
This long-existing belief is increasingly being reassessed in the scheme of things today, as the music industry continues to experience a technology-driven evolution which has changed the pattern of music consumption on a global scale. The heightened speed of things – music creation and consumption – in today’s industry, has affected the culture of album releases such that musicians are having to choose between the option of putting out albums or maintaining a pattern of releasing singles to meet the demand from the fans. This is a slight shift from the position of the music community in the past, where singles and albums had their respective places in the plans of artists.
The big task for artists in the intensely competitive music industry of today is how to earn and sustain the listening ear of the fans. The bid to meet this goal causes artists to decide on which roll-out strategy works best – a single-focused approach or a plan which includes album releases. General Manager and Executive Vice President of Commerce & Marketing for Warner Bros, Larry Mattera said, “in the past, it was about vying for fans’ dollars.” “Now it’s about vying for fans’ time – time spent consuming our repertoire, rather than our competitors’ repertoire.”
Nigeria artists like Reekado Banks have voiced similar opinions. The pop singer, in a tweet published on December 15, 2017, confirmed that there is a change of approach towards music albums. His tweet reads, “we don’t appreciate albums anymore! Can’t waste my hard work! One by one una go hear am.” Pop star, Tekno, communicates same with his action. The singer has rejected the industry standard that necessitates the release of albums for established acts. The pop star, despite hitting a run of form in 2016, with chart-topping songs like “Pana” and “Duro”, which were expected to serve as precedents to his debut album, continues to demonstrate his preference for serving his music as singles.
The argument against the impact of music albums in today’s music industry focuses on the consumption pattern of the music audience, which is increasingly adjusting to the internet revolution by turning to streaming platforms for music supplies. Larry Mattera admitted that music practitioners are “experimenting across board.” She revealed the nature of the questions that are raised in boardrooms. “Is a singles-focused approach better, with songs stacked at appropriate times? Should it be a smaller body of work [like an EP]? Is this fanbase actually looking for an album at this time?“ she asked.
Famous songwriter, Eskeerdo emphasized on how the consumption habit of fans affects the way music is being served. The composer said “people’s attention spans (today) are the size of a period.” “All your music is entirely consumed in a week – if you’re lucky,” he adds. This echoes the controversial point of Reekado Banks who implied that he would not be putting out 12 or 15 songs at once on a full-length project due to the reduced reward which might mean revenue from sales or project shelf-life.
Every now and then, artists sit with their team on round tables to map out plans on how to deliver their product to the fans in the most effective way and this often leads to conversations on the need for an album. While this is usually discussed with regard to factors like timing, budget, projected income, more practitioners are beginning to see less need for a full-length album, and looking at alternatives like the Extended Playlists and singles, to get the best from our portable music society today where music streaming is the in-thing.