I'm more hopeful that it's their shitty business models(aka "making exceedingly rich people significantly richer") that are on life support, and that the album itself will be just fine. It's not like people aren't searching for, and readily finding, alternatives. There are still people running sustainable and profitable businesses selling albums.
I'm kind of glad to see radio industry and other media conglomerates on life support too. Redefine "the music industry" as people who are actually involved in making music(not strictly limited to musicians), rather than these holdouts(way too generous a term) stuck in the 1950's and 1980's with 2010's technology at hand and it all starts to look a bit brighter, really. Overall, people are starting to adapt to this century's models, 20 years in. Not that it isn't still a struggle, but the future's clearly not theirs. On the technology side, the gears are driving towards decentralization, whereas last century it was about making everything seem larger than life(which is true even before considering the more exploitative sides of it all)
This was always the case with albums. It was rare for people to like every song on an album, but would buy it nonetheless.. Sure, you could buy the single, but the medium singles came on (45's first, then cd singles) wasn't exactly equal. Often though, you might come to really like songs on the album that didn't get any airplay. There were a few exceptions where entire albums were beloved (think Thriller/Purple Rain).
Now, people can buy singles exclusively and have them in their digital collection to be played on their phone/tablet/computer.
This will be interesting in how it might or might not affect the album making process as that is typically what an artist sets out to make, rather than singles. I hope it never really goes away because we've had some truly great albums over the years.
Take Drake’s Scorpion, the biggest album in the U.S. market this year. In a clear bid to rack up as many streams possible (and break multiple records in the process), Scorpion is 25 tracks long. Yet, according to numbers I’ve obtained and crunched from Spotify-monitoring site Kworb, some 63 percent of global streams from Scorpion on Spotify since the album’s release in June have come from just three songs: “God’s Plan,” “In My Feelings” and “Nice for What.”
In fact, just six songs on the album (also including “Nonstop,” “Don’t Matter to Me” and “I’m Upset”) have claimed 82 percent of its total streams. The other 19 tracks get just 18 percent of the spoils between them — an average of less than 1 percent each.
I never was a real album fan. Like Joline said earlier in this thread, there are seldom albums where all the songs are good enough to listen to every now and then. Most albums I have heard completely have 3-4 great songs (very often they became the single releases), 3-4 are more or less interesting ones and the rest should be in the garbage bin, but the album has to be filled.
The theaters near me have evolved, including bigger seats, dine in service, and more special events. That's how businesses survive.They update the model when everyone predicts they are dying.
The album is still alive and well, it is the major labels that are struggling. Local/indie artists are selling a lot of albums at shows and online using Bandcamp and Pledgemusic and other platforms. Singles have always outsold albums. For some artists, ditching albums makes sense. Weird Al was locked into a 17-album contract, which for him meant that tracks couldn't always get released while the material was still current. But some artists and genres still work best in album format. The good news is that there are more options for artists now, and that many reduce the influence of legacy media companies on how music gets made.
Agree with Veritable. CD albums are steadily released by folk musicians and pipe organists. They’re generally professionally recorded and include cover art on a book of credits, lyrics, personal stories, and tune provance. They’re sold at concerts, in conferences, and on websites linked from Facebook, Soundcloud, Youtube, and other social media videos. There’s simply no middleman label contract sucking up all the monies.