They say streaming has changed the value of the album but Billie Eilish has shown they still thrive when done right.
As the majority of music consumption now comes from music streaming people are listening differently. Playlists are the port of call for most people’s music discovery making singles far more valuable than they were when physical music made up the market.
Despite music streaming helping to boost music revenues worldwide after a nearly 20 year slump, some are critical of the new way of listening. Some critics have claimed that the album has lost its value as singles become prioritised. When you look at Drake’s recording breaking Scorpion album you can clearly see the effect that they’re talking about.
Drake’s album quickly became the most streamed album on Spotify but 60% of the streams were for just 3 songs, on his 25 track album! Albums are supposedly becoming longer to game the new method of streaming consumption, also evidenced by the ridiculous amount of tracks on his album. Lastly songs are becoming shorter on average so that they’re more likely to retain listeners on streaming services all the way through.
Whilst this is all true with some of the big label, pop artists it doesn’t necessarily reflect elsewhere. The people who are causing this change in approach were always inclined in this way but music lovers remain even if the platform ain’t the same. As Billie Eilish has proven with her dedicated fans and her new album.
Music Business Worldwide found that on the first day of her new album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, listeners listened to 36 separate minutes of music from the record. That means they weren’t from the same tracks being played over, and equates to 81% of the album’s length.
Oliver Schusser, the Apple Music boss, predicted the success of Eilish’s album doing away with the priority of singles. Eight of the album’s songs are currently in the Top 10 of Apple Music’s global chart proving that the whole album has been a hit with listeners.
The performance of her album is a culmination of having a presence where she actually connects with fans, promoting the album as a whole rather than totally prioritising the singles, and creating the music with the whole album in mind. As with Drake the tracks aren’t created to be a cohesive whole, they are created to space out a release. Eilish shows it’s still possible to create an actual LP.
It goes to show that whilst the music landscape is changing it also depends on artists’ approach to it. There’s nothing wrong with prioritising certain tracks over an album if that’s how you want to approach your music career. But if you put the time in to make a complete piece of music as an album and release something that listeners old and new can relate with and enjoy then the power of the album is still very much in existence.