Does having playlists of mp3s in random order mask the “full album” experience that we used to have a not so long time ago? Back in the tape days, I would have complete albums which I would play and get used to – discovering more songs, hearing the artists’ (or music label’s) version of what they value and in what order.
Anyone who has heard albums like “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd would probably feel unhappy when they meet people who have only heard an individual song from that album. Unless one has experienced the continuity of the entire album, the heart-beats and voices in between songs, one can not fully appreciate why it was one of the longest running albums of all times (It was on US Billboard Top 200 for 741 weeks).
But today, more and more people are listening to only individual songs. I always felt like an old purist debating the sanctity of the complete album, but I just became aware of how our listening behavior can actually destroy the concept of an album altogether. This gentleman has explained how the science of economics will catch up with our listening experiences.
Maybe individual songs could be priced in such a way that it would be cheaper to download a complete album; that would be one incentive to make people still download all songs from an album. Or maybe people can use one of the subscription services from Yahoo or URGE. [I am working on a comparative review on Yahoo Music Unlimited 2 Go and URGE All Access To Go. I have used them both, but currently am siding with URGE for reasons I will explain in the review]. These services do allow complete album downloads and URGE seems like a savior since it really retains the flavor of the complete album; it even throws in an album review from All Music Guide in the mix.
I sincerely hope the album does not die. But I am not sure if I am simply resisting a good new-age trend or am concerned about the loss of an experience which is too valuable to forgo.