Headbangers Brawl 6/24: Do People Still Care About The Full Album?

Posted by on June 24, 2011

Headbanger’s Brawl is a weekly column where Metal Insider’sBram and Zach take a moment to debate and analyze two opposing sides of a topical issue occurring in the world of metal and/or the music industry.

Guitarist Billy Howerdel had gotten our hopes up that A Perfect Circle could release new material in the near future. However, Howerdel revealed recently that though the recently reunited supergroup will be debuting a new song this Summer on the road, a new full length record is less likely to happen. When explaining why to The Pulse Of Radio, Howerdel said the following:

“I still like records. I have great memories of having anticipation of hearing a whole album and ingesting it slowly and drinking it all in. To me, I have desires of making a record, but it just doesn’t seem like people are interested. It just seems that everyone likes to digest things much quicker and have less patience.”

Howerdel’s reasoning got us thinking, so with this week’s Headbangers’ Brawl, Bram and Zach discuss whether the average music consumer still cares about the full length album and whether it’ll soon become a dying medium.

Zach: I still love albums. I still remember as a kid listening to Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All from start to finish constantly. A full album can separate good artists from crappy ones who lucked out with one single. That’s why it truly kills me to say that I agree with Howerdel. People’s interest in the full album is slowly dying. Need proof of this? Check out Metal By Numbers from the past few weeks. It’s considered an accomplishment nowadays when a band is able to sell half of what they sold two years ago, which would’ve been considered a flop not too long ago.

Maybe it isn’t fair to say that people don’t care about albums exactly. People, especially metal fans, will always look forward to hearing a full album at least once. However, I’d argue that people as consumers are losing interest in PAYING for full albums.

Bram: I think that iTunes really opened up the singles-based way of commerce. Of course the actual single has been around forever, but once individual tracks were made available for purchase, it changed everything. Suddenly people could pick and choose what songs they wanted instead of being stuck with a whole album. It’s an ADD world we live in where media is consumed faster than ever. Growing up, other than an album, you’d see a band’s videos on MTV (maybe), and the only other glimpse you’d get would be in magazines and in concert. Now you can (illegally) download a band’s entire catalogue or (legally) listen to whatever you want on YouTube.

I think Billy’s talking more about the general public than he is about metal fans. We’re purists. We want a full album, and for the most part, we want a physical version of it. It comes down to quality control though. Like that other band that APC’s singer is in, for example. They put out one album every five years, if that. If a band would work on their songs and create what they feel is a perfect album, I’m fine with it. More and more, a lot of albums have a few good songs , but more filler. If bands took the best five songs and left it at that, then that’s fine in my book.

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