The Slow Death of the Album

Adele’s latest album, 25, sold 5.98m copies in its first month but was not available on major streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify. By comparison, Red Hot Chili Peppers' fifth studio album Blood Sugar Sex Magik sold 13m copies in 1991.

Yet musicians from all corners of the industry—mainstream, middle-tier, independent, up-and-coming—continue to create albums…  (and) Spotify suggests that albums are still worth artists’ while on a fiscal level, even though they pay rights holders a $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream.

We Are The City, a Vancouver-based progressive-rock trio, used live-streaming through their website to engage fans, and create momentum ahead of the release of their third album. The entire recording session was broadcast, over three and a half weeks. Everything that happened in the studio—the band playing their instruments, standing around, falling asleep—was accessible to their admirers via their website. Between five and 20 people watched the feed at any given time, with up to 100 viewers at one point.

Arcade Fire has been nominated for numerous Grammys, won a Grammy, racked up Brit awards and Juno awards, and performed in New York's Central Park with David Bowie and at huge festivals like Coachella: all benchmarks of critical success. Yet their top-selling album The Suburbs sold 765,000 copies in America and only 343,000 in Britain.

 - Abridged from the Feb. 15 online edition of The Economist


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