STONER: Buy the book, not just a chapter
Recently I was looking for some management info for Keith Urban and while looking at the credits inside the CD cover of “Defying Gravity,” I noticed a statement from Keith to the listener that said “If you bought this record… you can get the cliff notes or you can get the whole story… THANK YOU for choosing the journey of the whole album… it means more to me than you know.”
Now I realize as I approach 40 here in a few months, that I’m not exactly the target demographic for record labels. Teenagers always have been and always will be the target demographic for popular music. However, this statement from Keith Urban got me thinking about how much young people miss by instantly downloading music to their iPod without ever knowing the story behind the songs, putting the message from multiple songs on an album together, and especially reading the album/CD jackets and inserts.
When artists write music for an album, they are going through a journey with similar topics and subjects. Sometimes the songs on an album fit together like a jigsaw puzzle or chapters in a book. Hearing just one song can give you a small glimpse of the overall picture but it certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. You’d never buy just one chapter of a book from Amazon for your Kindle — you’d buy the whole book. Amazon now lets you download a free chapter from a book as a teaser to get you to buy the whole book. Unfortunately, music buyers today don’t buy in the same manner so it doesn’t work this way.
Now, taken to the extreme, an album with interrelated songs is considered a concept album. In the ’80s the first concept album I listened to (when CDs were relatively new) was “Operation: Mindcrime,” by Queensryche. While I had heard quite a few singles on the radio such as “Eyes of a Stranger,” “I Don’t Believe in Love,” and “Revolution Calling,” it wasn’t until I listened to the whole CD from beginning to end that I realized how those pieces of the puzzle fit into the overall concept and storyline. Classic concept albums like Pink Floyd’s, “The Wall,” The Who’s, “Tommy,” and David Bowie’s, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust,” would make very little sense to those
who have only heard the handful of songs on the radio. But of course these albums came out when you had to buy the whole album and you wanted to listen to the whole thing.
The other part of the album concept I really miss is (I’m going to go wayyyy back now) having the inserts with the vinyl albums that you could take out and read about the band, the lyrics and see incredible full color photos of the band playing live. I grew up in a country music household, so my first memories of this were Alabama and Kenny Rogers records and I fondly remember reading every word from the inserts of “Mountain Music” and “The Gambler” and seeing pictures of Alabama in concert. And what rock and roll fan could forget those incredible pictures of KISS in their albums showing the explosions and a fire-breathing demon? I wonder how many teenagers saw those inserts and decided to sell everything they own to be able to go to KISS concert.
When I think about where music goes from here, I don’t really see why artists continue to take time to make a complete album if all they are going to sell is singles. With the recording technology today, an incredibly high quality recording can be made on the tour bus, uploaded to iTunes to sell to fans, and the song played live later that night at their concert. That may seem far-fetched but I don’t think we’re too far away from that right now. I know we can’t go back and the future is simply singles downloaded from iTunes, Amazon, and streamed from Pandora, but I sure hate seeing my boys miss out on the cool things they don’t know ever existed.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Jessica Martin-Cate on January 2, 2012 at 10:03 pm, and is filed under Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|