On the record: Why albums still matter in the music business

The UK music industry will unite later this year to celebrate the humble album, a music format once considered to be near extinction.

A few years back many in the business believed the rise of online streaming signalled the death of the album but the continued resilience of the format has forced a rethink.

In 2017, 135m albums were either purchased, downloaded or streamed in the UK, a rise of 9.5 per cent on the previous year. Of this number, 4.1m were on vinyl – the highest level since the start of the 1990s.

To honour the album’s continued cultural impact (five billion sold in the UK since 1948) the first ever National Album Day will be held on Saturday 13 October. This inaugural event, organised by the British Phonograph Industry (BPI) and the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), coincides with the 70th anniversary of the album.

In the lead up to National Album Day expect to see and hear more about the albums that changed the way we see the world and defined key moments in our history.

Paloma Faith, National Album Day ambassador, has kickstarted the conversation by sharing the works that influenced her early years: Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Bob Dylan’s Freewheelin and Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun.

“Although, if I had to pick one, the album that most inspired me was Tracy Chapman’s self-titled debut,” says Faith.

“It featured the incredibly powerful Why? – a song that has become a real anthem for me not least as it was the first to bring home the emotional power of lyrics. The way we engage with music may be changing, but for me the album remains the ultimate expression of the songwriter’s craft.”

Iain McNay, Chairman of Cherry Red Records, agrees. “Even in this era of the growing popularity of streaming, the majority of artists still think in terms of writing and recording albums rather than just tracks.

“National Album Day is a great reminder of the creative thought and brilliance that goes into the making of an album, and it is a way that we can all participate by listening to and remembering our favourite albums. The album is the King of music formats; long live the King!”

A few other album stats…

A recent ERA study also found:

  • Almost 60 per cent of respondents had listened to an album in full in the month prior to the online survey.
  • Younger fans are more likely to have listened to an album recently: over half (55%) of those polled aged 25 or below said they had listened to an album in the previous week, compared with 45 per cent of 45-54 year-olds and just 33 per cent of those aged 55 or above.
  • Four in ten (38%) female consumers having listened to an album in the week prior to the study, compared with 45 per cent of male respondents.

 

Website: nationalalbumday.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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