'The album is the king of music formats': Music industry unites for National Album Day

'The album is the king of music formats': Music industry unites for National Album Day

The music industry has united for the launch of National Album Day, which will take place on Saturday, October 13.

Coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the format, National Album Day will celebrate all aspects of the album – from the music to the sleeve art – and cover new releases and classic recordings in all genres.

The BPI estimates that five billion albums have been sold since 1948.

The initiative is being launched amid industry debate about the format in the streaming era. While CD and download sales of albums have fallen, the vinyl LP has enjoyed a resurgence and the streaming surge saw overall sales up 9.5% in 2017 to 135 million albums based on the AES metric. 

According to a new study by ERA, almost 60% of respondents had listened to an album in full in the month prior to the survey.

Planned activity in the run-up to National Album Day will include dedicated programming and editorial support from broadcast partner BBC Music, along with retail events, artist appearances, LP playbacks and online listening parties. A social media campaign (@AlbumDayUK/#NationalAlbumDay) will invite people to nominate and share the album that has most inspired them.

At 3.33pm on October 13, fans, stores, radio stations and public spaces will be invited to play their favourite album in full.

Paloma Faith has signed up as one of the first ambassadors for the event.

She said: “I vividly remember being excited by so many classic albums as I was growing up, like Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Dylan’s Freewheelin’, and Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun, although, if I had to pick one, the album that most inspired me was Tracy Chapman’s self-titled debut. It featured the incredibly powerful Why?, a song that has become a real anthem for me not least as it was the first to bring home the emotional power of lyrics. The way we engage with music may be changing, but for me the album remains the ultimate expression of the songwriter’s craft.”

BBC Music programming will be featured on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 1Xtra, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, and BBC Radio 6 Music, as well as BBC iPlayer and BBC Four.  

James Stirling, head of content commissioning, BBC Music, said: “BBC Music is proud to support the first National Album Day. The role of the album has evolved over 70 years – through vinyl and beautiful artwork to current streaming consumption – yet the story behind a great album remains an important part of British culture. We look forward to exploring the album in all its glory and telling these stories across the BBC.”

National Album Day is being organised jointly by ERA (Entertainment Retailers Association), representing music retailers and digital/streaming platforms, in partnership with the BPI. It also has the backing and input of the wider music community, including AIM, Classic Album Sundays, FAC (Featured Artist Coalition), MMF (Music Managers Forum), MPG (Music Producers Guild), Official Charts Company, PPL, United Talent Agency, and UK Music.

Iain McNay, chairman of Cherry Red Records and one of the instigators of National Album Day, said: “The format of the album is so important. Even in this era of the growing popularity of streaming, the majority of artists still think in terms of writing and recording albums rather than just tracks. National Album Day is a great reminder of the creative thought and brilliance that goes into the making of an album, and it is a way that we can all participate by listening to and remembering our favourite albums. The album is the King of music formats; long live the King!”   

It is an opportunity to throw the spotlight back on to long-form listening

Kim Bayley

Kim Bayley, chief executive ERA, said: “Individual tracks may have stolen the limelight over the past few years, but British music fans love albums as much as ever. National Album Day is an opportunity to throw the spotlight back on to long-form listening and we are delighted that the Record Store Day team will play a key role in establishing this first-time event working alongside our friends and colleagues at the BBC, the BPI and the wider music community.”

Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI & BRIT Awards, added: "It is fitting that, in this 70th anniversary year, we should look to create a special moment that celebrates the UK's love of the album and the huge role it plays at the heart of our popular culture. The album has underpinned the phenomenal success of recorded music the world over, providing artists with a compelling medium through which to express their creativity and fans the freedom to engage with all shades of music through the stories that it tells. 

“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.” 

"Our favourite albums become the soundtracks to our lives – they have the ability to take us back in time and leave us with lasting memories,” said Neil Warnock, global head of touring, United Talent Agency. “The album itself is a true art form and something we should absolutely celebrate. UTA is proud to support this initiative and all of our artists that have created timeless works of art.”  

The organisers plan to make National Album Day an annual event that can join Record Store Day as a regular fixture in the music industry calendar.

For full details on the scheme, plus exclusive interviews with Bayley, Taylor, McNay and ERA's Megan Page, don't miss this week's print edition of Music Week, out July 23. To subscribe and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

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