Fast Company's Kit Eaton, declared that the concept of albums is still alive and simply evolving. Part of that evolution is Apple's Cocktail interactive album effort. He argues that albums maintain their purpose to communicate musical themes, "the same way that a curated collection of a painter's works does". Nevertheless, it may be that in some cases, the album will thrive for the exact opposite reasons.Radiohead's frontman Thom Yorke announced that the band will no longer release full-length studio albums and instead focus on downloadable singles. In response,
While Radiohead's "In Rainbows" was an amazing success both as an album and as a new sliding scale revenue model, Yorke and band mates are poised to focus on singles, and for them this is great. Radiohead has a loyal fan base, enough money to survive, and the freedom to negotiate independent licensing and distribution deals. Basically, Radiohead can do whatever Radiohead wants to do. But perhaps more importantly, the band has the creative freedom to experiment - in fact, their fans expect it.
With the cost of professional music production and audio engineers, few bands have the luxury to put out experimental singles on major labels. Labels simply won't put marketing dollars into something they aren't sure is commercially viable. Albums are the perfect place to sandwich those sweetheart orphan tracks that artists love and labels simply can't classify. In the past, an album's B-side was a place where musicians could debut new styles and place less-commercial tracks. However, as music downloads outnumber physical disc sales, and singles outsell albums, the margin for risk taking gets smaller everyday.
For this reason, whether wrapped in interactive material or not, it's likely that a number of musicians will insist on producing albums simply to leverage marketing efforts and challenge their fans.
Photo Credit: Taken from Radiohead's Dead Air Space