The Album Reloaded: Weighing up the pros and cons of 'franchising' music

The Album Reloaded: Weighing up the pros and cons of 'franchising' music

Everywhere you look, people are doubling down on musical creativity. The 1975 will soon follow up A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships with Notes On A Conditional Form to complete the Music For Cars ‘era’. Foals’ Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Pt 1 will be swiftly pursued by Pt 2. Even The Lumineers will release their third album, III, in three parts.

This may seem counter-intuitive: “People don’t buy albums anymore! So let’s release more of them!” But really it’s a reaction to the changing dynamics of music consumption in the streaming age.

New music keeps your monthly listeners total up, so it makes sense to spread it across the year. And now it’s almost impossible to get a single away after an album’s been released, the sales window on a long-player is shorter than ever.

 

Some artists think a constant flow of new music will enable year-round touring, but constant supply does not necessarily mean constant demand

 

But really it goes deeper than that. The biz is looking at Hollywood for inspiration, and this is nothing short of the franchising of music. You can’t see a blockbuster these days without there being a bunch of Easter eggs linking to other movies or teasers for future films, all designed to keep fans digging through the back catalogue and on alert for when the next project drops.

But there are also things to beware of. Some artists think a constant flow of new music will enable year-round touring, but constant supply does not necessarily mean constant demand. Even Star Wars – an under-exploited franchise in its pre-Disney days – has seen diminishing returns now the films come round every year.

So the key has to be engagement, not just attention. Look at Billie Eilish, building a cinematic universe to rival anything Marvel have created. That’s why sales for her When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? album don’t just point the way forward for streaming strategies, but for physical music ones too. Her teenage fans are hooked enough to literally buy into the project, not just stream it in the background.

In the meantime, see you next week for The Editorial II: This Time It’s Personal…

 

 

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