‘Is the album dead?’ has been a tiresome hot-take that keeps getting reheated by thinkpiece-writers since the heyday of Apple’s iTunes Store. The current streaming dynamics are only making it pop up more often.
British industry bodies ERA and the BPI hope it isn’t dead though: they’ve teamed up with broadcaster the BBC for an event on 13 October called ‘National Album Day’ to mark the 70th anniversary of the album format, as well as to “enable a national conversation around the format”.
The bodies are hoping to turn the event into something a bit like Record Store Day, happening annually. Expect radio playbacks, online listening-parties and other live events.
The introductory press release said that the national conversation will be led by “the artists and producers who give expression to the album as a conceptual body of work, and help to define the format’s purpose and meaning” (i.e. not those who think the format is irrelevant) with Paloma Faith on board as one of its artist ambassadors.
ERA says its latest tracking research shows nearly 60% of respondents had listened to an album in full in the last month, including 55% of those aged 25 or below, so there’s at least something to talk about. The Guardian offers a more sceptical take on all this: “It’s all in honour of trying to do something about those declining sales figures,” it suggested.