Everything you need to know about albums in music, from how they’re created to how they help artists share their work with the world.
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What is an album in music?
An album is a collection of songs by an artist. It can be released as a physical album on CD or vinyl, or as a digital album that can be downloaded from the Internet. An album may contain anywhere from two to dozens of songs, and they are typically released together as a unit.
Albums are usually produced by record labels, which sign artists and release their albums. An artist may release several albums over the course of their career, each with its own unique style and sound. Some artists release live albums, which are recordings of concerts, or compilations, which are collections of previously released tracks.
The history of the album
It would be impossible to overstate the importance of the album in music. For better or for worse, the album has served as the primary format for artists to release their work for most of recorded history. Albums are how we measure an artist’s output, and how we determine their place in musical history.
The origins of the album can be traced back to the early days of recorded music. The first albums were simply collections of 78 RPM records, grouped together in a book-like format. These records were generally sold as “albums” because they were too fragile to be sold individually.
It wasn’t until the 1950s that the term “album” began to be used to refer to a collection of songs by a single artist. This format was popularized by singers like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, who released multiple albums of their greatest hits. The album became the standard format for music release, and remains so to this day.
The format of the album has changed over time, from vinyl records to cassette tapes to CDs and now digital downloads, but the concept remains the same: a collection of songs released together as a single unit.
The album format
An album is a collection of recorded music, typically featuring several tracks (songs) with a common theme. Albums are released by recording artists and typically contain original music, although compilations and reissues of previously recorded material may also be included.
The word “album” derives from the Latin word for book, which is related to the term “bibliotheca” (a reference to the collection of scrolls in ancient libraries). The first use of the term “album” in the musical sense was in 1579, when Italian composer Francesco Landini referred to his collection of madrigals as his “libro d’ de madrigali.”
The format soon became popular among printer-publishers of sheet music, who began releasing collections of arias, dances, and other pieces as albums. The popularity of the format led to the release of “album-length” recordings by classical artists such as conductor Arturo Toscanini and pianist Vladimir Horowitz.
The LP (long-playing) record album was introduced by Columbia Records in 1948. The format helped to revolutionize the music industry by allowing artists to release more than one song on a single disc. LPs were originally released in mono, but stereo versions quickly became available.
The compact disc (CD) format was introduced in 1982 and quickly replaced LPs as the preferred medium for album releases. CDs offer higher audio quality than LPs and are much more resistant to damage. They can also hold considerably more information than LPs, making them ideal for releasing “deluxe” editions of albums that include bonus tracks or additional multimedia content.
The album as art
The album has long been considered a work of art in its own right, with many artists putting immense care and detail into the design and packaging as well as the music itself. A great album can provide a complete listening experience, with a cohesive song selection and sequence that takes the listener on a journey.
While the single is still the format of choice for most people, for true music fans, the album is king.
The album in the digital age
An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), vinyl, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded music were developed in the early 20th century as individual 78-rpm records collected in a bound book resembling a photograph album; this format evolved after 1948 into single vinyl LP records played at 33 1⁄3 rpm. Vinyl LPs are still issued, though album sales in the 21st-century have mostly focused on CD and MP3 formats.
The audio cassette was a format used alongside vinyl from the 1970s into the first decade of the 2000s. An album may be recorded in a recording studio (fixed or mobile), in a concert venue, at home, in the field, or a mix of places. The time frame for completely recording an album varies between a few hours and several years. This process usually requires several takes with different parts recorded separately, and then brought or “mixed” together. Recordings that are done in one take without overdubbing are termed “live”, even when done in a studio. Studios are built to absorb sound, eliminating reverberation, so as to assist in mixing different takes; other locations help to give distinct sounds to different songs. Reverb wizard Phil Spector employed this technique to produce snaps, crackles and pops on his famous “Wall of Sound” recordings
The future of the album
Though the future of the album is unclear, it remains an important part of the music industry, both for artists and consumers. For artists, albums provide a format to release a collection of songs that are intended to be heard together. For consumers, albums offer a way to purchase a group of songs by a particular artist or band that they can enjoy on their own time. Though streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music have changed the way people consume music, the album still has a place in the industry.
The album in popular culture
An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), vinyl, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded music were developed in the early 20th century as individual 78-rpm records collected in a bound book resembling a photograph album; this format evolved after 1948 into single vinyl LP records played at 33⅓ rpm. Vinyl LPs are still issued, though album sales in the 21st-century have mostly focused on CD and MP3 formats.
The audio cassette was a format used alongside vinyl from the 1970s into the first decade of the 2000s. An album may be recorded in a recording studio (fixed or mobile), in a concert venue, at home, or in the field simultaneously. Recording devices vary widely and include reel-to-reel tape decks, all sizes of cassette decks including Portastudios and four-track recorders, MD recorder, hard disk recorder, digital multitrack recorders such as ADATs and RADARs, session musicians use playback singers can lip synch their parts.
Album covers and liner notes are used, and sometimes additional information is provided, such as analysis of the recording, and lyrics or librettos. Historically, the term “album” was applied to a collection of various items housed in a book format. In musical usage the word was used for collections of short pieces of printed music from the early nineteenth century onwards. Later, collections of related 78rpm records were bundled in book-like albums (one side of shellac disc could hold about 3 minutes of sound). When long-playing records were introduced in 1948 their playing time was about double that of78rpm discs; therefore one side of an LP could hold up to over twenty minutes
An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a record album on compact disc (CD), vinyl record, audio tape or another medium. Albums consist primarily of tracks, which are songs that are grouped together to form an artistic work. An album may be recorded in studio settings (fixed or mobile), at live concerts or at home simultaneously by more than one performer using multitrack recording devices.
Historically, the term “album” referred to bound collections physical media such as 78 RPM phonograph discs or books containing Emile Zola’s novels; it has since been expanded to include other media such as Compact Discs (CDs). The first audio Compact Disc (CD) albums were started being sold commercially in 1982; however they did not gain widespread popularity until 1984 when CD players became available for purchase by consumers. Starting in 2001 with the advent iPods and MP3 players becoming popular household items worldwide; digital sales for albums have become commonplace with many different retail outlets selling them such as Amazon MP3
The album in the music industry
The album began as a collection of 78 rpm record discs packaged in a book resembling a photograph album. A vinyl LP on a turntable. The LP (from “long playing” or “long play”) is an analog sound storage medium, a phonograph record format characterized by a speed of 33 1⁄3 rpm, a 12- or 10-inch (30 or 25 cm) diameter, and use of the “microgroove” groove specification. Introduced by Columbia in 1948, it was soon adopted as a new standard by the entire record industry. Apart from relatively minor refinements and the important later addition of stereophonic sound capability, it has remained the standard format for vinyl albums.
The term “album” was extended to other recording media such as Compact disc (CD), MiniDisc, Compact audio cassette (Cassette), and digital albums, as they were introduced. An album is denoted by the first release of tracks from that album. For example, Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon was released on March 24th 1973 in the United Kingdom, and February 1st in the United States; Pink Floyd would not release another album until 1975’s Wish You Were Here.”
In music, an album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), vinyl, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded music were developed in the early 20th century as individual 78-rpm records collected in a bound book resembling a photograph album; this format evolved after 1948 into single vinyl LP records played at 33 1⁄3 rpm. Vinyl LPs are still issued, though album sales in general have focused increasingly on compact disc (CD) and MP3 formats. CDs typically have several pieces of different music recordings (which might include some unity and continuity) that aren’t related musically (“tracks”), conceptually because they are generally recorded together intended to be listened to simultaneously; they usually have different instrumental or vocal sonic character and style (“texture”), which could be easily recognized even if each recording is abstracted from its neighbors sonically by silence or noise between tracks; each recording may be created using slightly different studio techniques (“production”) that add to their disparate sonic character; and each piece may utilize vastly different musical form and structure (“composition”).
The album as a marketing tool
Over the past few decades, the music industry has undergone a massive transformation. In the age of digital music and streaming services, the concept of the “album” has evolved significantly.
Traditionally, an album was a collection of songs released together on physical media (usually vinyl or cassette). In the digital age, an album can be anything from a collection of MP3 files to a playlist on Spotify. For artists and labels, the album is still an important marketing tool. It’s a way to package and release new music, promote tours, and generate revenue.
The album format also allows artists to tell a story with their music. A well-crafted album can feel like one cohesive work, rather than a bunch of individual songs. This can make it more engaging and compelling for listeners.
Despite the changes in the music industry, the album is still an important part of many artists’ careers. In some cases, it’s the only way to experience an artist’s full vision for their music.
The album as a work of art
An album is a collection of songs, usually recorded in studio with professional production values and released together on either vinyl LP, cassette tape, compact disc (CD), or digital format. Over the years, the definition of “album” has changed considerably. In the early years of recording technology, an album was a set of grooved discs played on a turntable and recorded using a microphone connected to an amplifier. Later, when 78 RPM discs were replaced by 33? RPM LPs (Long Playing records), albums also became longer, with more songs per side.
Albums became increasingly popular in the 1950s and 1960s as artists such as Elvis Presley and The Beatles released multiple hit singles that were collected together on one LP. This format reached its height in the 1970s with the release of “concept albums” such as Pink Floyd’s The Wall and The Who’s Tommy. These works were intended to be heard as a complete piece, with each song contributing to a larger theme or story.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the music industry shifted away from releasing albums by individual artists and began to focus on releasing compilations of previously-released singles by various artists under one heading (e.g., Now That’s What I Call Music!). This trend continued into the 2000s with the increasing popularity of digital music formats such as MP3s and online streaming services such as Spotify. As a result, the album as a work of art has become less common, although some artists have continued to release critically acclaimed albums (e.g., Adele’s 21 and Beyoncé’s Lemonade).