Since the 70s it’s been a dream of musicians to release an album. A deal with a major label and subsequent best-selling album release was the epitome of what we all worked for. Today the album is fast becoming a relic of the past and you need look no further than Drake’s Scorpion album as the perfect example.
The songs on the album have broken streaming records on both Apple Music and Spotify, yet the album itself has only sold 29,000 during its last chart week. To put that into perspective, an appearance on a musical segment of Saturday Night Live in the 80s and 90s would usually result in 5 times the number of sales the following week than Scorpion received. A million sales in a week even were reported from time to time back in the glory days of the business.
Yet here we are, the biggest release that the industry has ever seen in some ways, and there are only 29k sales!
That 29,000 tally represents approximately 0.0089% of the total US population of 326 million or less than one in every 10,000 people. In other words, 99.991% of the population didn’t buy it, and that’s for the #1 album in the country!
Now if you think that anyone in the recorded music industry is lamenting this fact, you’re wrong. The business is in what many consider to be a boom period with double digit growth, and it’s all coming from streaming. In case you haven’t noticed, streaming is all about the song and not the album.
Will the album go away as a result? No, it’s still a way to compile a set of songs together that can be useful to the artist and label, plus there are some people that still buy CDs or vinyl. But you’re going to see less emphasis on it in the future, with songs being released as they’re finished instead of waiting for the whole lot to be completed for the album.
And this is actually healthy for the industry. Get the songs out fast, give each one maximum exposure instead of being diluted in an album package, and promote them on their merits, just like back in the 50s.