Will Playlists Permanently Replace the Album?
There was an interesting editorial in The Atlantic this morning about the fall of the album and rise of the playlist, and how playlists are creating a chaotic atmosphere for musical organization on the web. It’s been true for years that the album lost relevancy over time, and not just because of piracy, but albums in general have become dumptrucks for collectible tracks wrapped in meaningless fluff. The EP serves more purpose these days mostly because the album is no longer a cohesive, autonomous artistic feat. Most bands live and die by a handful of tracks that range from solid to excellent, which paves the way for music fans to curate their own albums with their favorite music: the playlist.
As we all know, the rise of playlists largely has to do with the streaming sites replacing download sites, but we’d wait to crown the playlist for now. It’s not a certainty that streaming sites have a permanent home in the United States like it’s showing in western Europe (Spotify took a subscription dip in August), and as the article suggests, playlists don’t simplify anything and even clog your queue. The album is dead, but playlists aren’t much better than what blog curators can offer with socially ranked tracks.