Artists kill industry with unannounced albums

Screenshot from Apple’s Sept. 14, 2014 event, introducing U2’s automatic download of their album, “Songs of Innocence,” available in everyone’s iTunes music library.

Screenshot by Sarah Marasigan/The Skyline View

Screenshot from Apple’s Sept. 14, 2014 event, introducing U2’s automatic download of their album, “Songs of Innocence,” available in everyone’s iTunes music library.

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Musicians are attempting to resuscitate a dying industry with new ways of releasing their albums, instead of using traditional methods that have worked forever.

Is it working?

No, it isn’t. Not in a general sense, at least. It’s worked for some artists but not all.

People are no longer buying albums because they can pirate music at the click of a button. I thought musicians wanted their fans to buy their albums during the first week of its release?

If you wake up to find out your favorite musician released an album before your eyes open, how likely would you be to purchase it before you brushed your teeth?

Not very likely. Music fans, like me, want to know what kind of direction a musician is going with their new album.

How do we find that out? We listen to singles that are released several months in advance that are meant to create a buzz. Sure, a surprise album can break the internet but is that artist going to sell over 100,000 albums in their first week? Probably not.

In 2007, Radiohead did something so magical, something no other band of their stature had ever done before. The band surprised the world with details of their first album since 2003, and they did it ten days before its release.

What’s more fascinating than that is Radiohead allowed their fans to purchase the album for whatever price they wanted.

Essentially, you could have legally bought the album for free. This strategy will never be topped. Ever.

Back then, the music industry was alive and musicians were still releasing music traditionally. Since then, other musicians have tried to replicate Radiohead’s release and failed.

Even Thom Yorke is tired of unconventional album releases. According to an interview he did on BBC Radio 1, Yorke said, “Enough of that now. I’ve entirely had enough of that… Just put it out, man. No more fuss, just put it out… It takes away from things a bit.”

No disrespect but Frank Ocean, Kanye West, and U2 have utilized similar methods as of late to release their own music. Some worked well, some not so much.

Frank Ocean released his sophomore album, “Blonde,” in August and earned his first number one album on the Billboard 200 chart. Blonde sold the equivalent of 276,000 albums and was the third largest debut of 2016 behind Beyoncé and Drake.

I say equivalent because in the era of digital music, album and single streams are counted toward an artist’s sales.

Kanye West released “The Life of Pablo” and teased fans with multiple track lists over a month before its release. The initial release was pushed back because it wasn’t done. And the album still isn’t done. Or is it? I don’t know.

Kanye called his album a “living breathing changing creative expression.”

What’s that? It means West released “The Life of Pablo,” read what people were saying about it, and then made changes to certain songs. There were multiple edits of the album. Fans were pleased with the roll-out but I thought it was excessive. In fact, I’m a supporter of West and his music but the entire drop was lame.

In my opinion, the album was a half-ass attempt at making an album. The music wasn’t cooked with care. The album was made in a hurry because West felt rushed and then released an unfinished album. Why?

West never released a physical copy of “The Life of Pablo” either. As of June 2016, four months after the release, a new song was added. I hope “The Life of Pablo” is done living, breathing, and changing. Let’s not forget the circus U2 lead in 2014 with Apple.

What circus, you ask? If you were an Apple user in 2014, you might’ve noticed a U2 album on your computer that you didn’t download.

Five hundred million devices were affected by this “travesty” according to CNN. Meanwhile Bono wasn’t very apologetic during a Q&A with fans on Facebook. Bono apologized to a user saying, “Oops… I’m sorry about that… A touch of generosity, a dash of self-promotion, and deep fear that these songs that we poured our life into over the last few years might not be heard.”

Okay… Bono… You’re worried your band’s songs might not be heard so you force feed us your album? Don’t assume that we want listen to your album, because we don’t, and it’s going to make us hate your band.

We are living in a world where albums are no longer being purchased so why would an artist hurt their ability to push album sales? There aren’t many musicians that can sell a million albums in a week in 2016; a feat that was easily accomplished ten years ago. If your name isn’t Adele, Drake, or Taylor Swift, please go back to the drawing board and come up with a different strategy.