Are full-length albums DEAD?!

As I prepare to record my fifth album, I am faced with the usual question:

What’s the theme / concept? YOU MUST HAVE A THEME!!!

If you have any of my albums, you probably already know none of them have a “theme”. Each album is comprised of tunes I like to play. I have never done a tribute record (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but that isn’t to say I don’t put thought into each album. My thoughts are similar to how I order the tunes of a show. My albums are little self-contained performances and that’s how I have always liked it. In my mind, that is a theme in and of itself.

I think labels and marketeers want a theme or concept because they believe it will help get more press and sell more records. Maybe they’re right but I never quite understood that point of view because I’m not sure people buy entire records anymore except when they buy them directly from an artist at a performance, and then they don’t care if the record has a theme or not. This recent article in Variety reports that even Katy Perry’s new album didn’t sell very well in terms of people downloading the complete album.

So, if people don’t download an entire album, what is the point of a “theme”? And at the same time, if people don’t download entire albums, should all musicians just be releasing singles?

I love making an album. I love putting together the tunes and artwork and presenting it as a complete package. I love carrying them with me when I go on tour and signing them after a show (you can’t do that with singles). And I believe that Jazz fans want complete albums, but I want to hear from you! Tell me what you think as a consumer or musician (or both). Do you buy complete albums? Hard format or just as downloads? Do you prefer albums that are tribute albums, or have a direct theme?

And now for little shameless self-promotion: Venus Records has released a single track from my album “Sometimes I’m Happy” on its ’50 Jazz Tunes from Venus’ available on iTunes right now. Follow this link to hear it and download:

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2 Responses to Are full-length albums DEAD?!

  1. Roger says:

    I also only buy albums, it is just how I listen (at home, constantly). Just like a great club set, there needs to be appropriate pacing to hold it together and make it effective. Theme records can be that “glue,” but just like a good set it needs to well-constructed for it to work. The records I enjoy most either have a superb ambiance that carries through the record or has the best attributes of a great club set. The Johnny Hartman – John Coltrane album is an example of the former, as is Doris Day’s “Day Dream” album; most of the classic Blue Note records do the latter. An album takes the listener on a trip that a single cannot.


  2. DuLac says:

    I will always buy full albums even if they may include some tunes that I am not particularly keen of (Champian, this is not the case with yours, I promise!!). In my opinion an album is an entity whose appeal is defined by the sum of all its parts.
    Possibly this may not apply to pop music, smooth jazz, musak and the likes which, being for ultra fast consumption, may be totally different things altogether.


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