ARTISTS RELEASING FEWER ALBUMS
Greg Tatum asks:
In the first few lectures you mentioned that older artists often released many albums; yet today it is an accomplishment to get more than a few out. Why is this the case? In our fast paced, media driven world it would seem that there are endless opportunities for musicians to reach even greater numbers of potential buyers by releasing more albums. Evidently this is not happening and I'm curious to hear what you think is going on.
There are a number of factors that have changed the volume of records released today. First, the public has grown more sophisticated in its ability to recognize a quality song. This makes it more difficult for artists to create an entire album's worth of material. Secondly, in the sixties and seventies fans were much more involved with their favorite artists and anticipated the pending release of new product. As the infrastructure of the postmodern record business increased in size, there was an artificial demand placed on the system to keep feeding it new product. This resulted in pressure by record companies to demand more albums. Record contracts were written in such a way as to compel artists to hurry the process. This resulted in a decline in quality that began an erosion of interest by the fan base. A formulaic method of producing records for the sake of having "product" rather than artists making albums when their material was ready, imposed an artificial time frame on the process. Today many of the artists are produced utilizing material they do not write themselves and records are released, for a variety of reasons. The release schedule has more to do with economics and competition in the pipe line. Touring schedules, and extension of sales programs for successful product often dictate premature deadlines. Artists who still write their own songs take longer between albums in order to ensure a higher quality. Thirdly, competition for radio airplay allows fewer artists access to radio promotion and this slows down the number of albums that get to compete.