The UK music industry has launched a new celebration of the album.
While the increase in the popularity of streaming shows no signs of slowing, the way people listen online doesn’t always reflect the power of a well-programmed, thought-through record, of the type associated with physical formats of the past and present, from the LP up until the CD.
‘National Album Day’ – to be held on October 13 - aims to address that, though signs that the format remains meaningful to a digital generation are in fact to be found. A survey in May by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) – joint organisers of the event with the UK record industry body, the BPI - showed that 55 per cent of those aged 25 or below said they had listened to an album in the previous week.
Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, said ‘Streaming may be broadening our ability to access and discover music, but the concept of the album as a body of work that expresses a narrative or an artist’s creative vision at a given moment, remains as relevant and inspiring as ever.’
The organisers cite the first album as Nathan Milstein’s recording of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, issued by Columbia in 1948 – thus National Album Day marks 70 years of the format. This was certainly the first 12-inch LP – a format which, in terms of length and looks, came to define what many think of as an album, and indeed one seeing something of a resurgence in recent years. (Incidentally, that Milstein record was reissued in June on vinyl by Sony and HMV in a limited run of 500). In the decades since, the BPI estimates that 5 billion albums have been sold in the UK.
The day will follow a week’s build-up of activities in shops, on social media and on radio - the BBC is the official broadcast partner, and radio stations including Radio 3 will be supporting the event - involving artists from all genres of music.
Then, at 3.33(r)pm on October 13, the British public are invited to play their favourite record. In whatever format, presumably, works best for you.