2.7 Singles vs Albums

In this module we will consider how to treat singles and albums differently.

Music has changed a great deal in the last 50 years. In the 70’s through to the 90’s, it was all about the full length album. Bands/Artists would enter production with as many as 40 finished songs to fill out a 10 song album. Therefore, each song on the album had a different piece of the overall story being told.

Producing Albums

The first thing we need to understand about producing an album is that the overall content is put together like individual pieces to a puzzle. We need to pay attention to these pieces and then ask, “What is the final puzzle meant to look like?”
The only way to find this out is to understand the core of the artist/band. As we have discussed in other modules, this means taking time to understand what they are about. What are they wanting to do differently with this record?

Great albums take you on a journey and tell a story from one song to the next. Once you have outlined the final image of the album, then it’s time to break down the individual pieces to create this journey.

Let’s take a rock album for example. It’s important to have a diverse range of songs. There needs to be songs that are hard hitting and ‘in your face,’ followed by a couple that are a bit softer. The reason for this variation is to give the listener a break from the more hard hitting songs and to maintain high listening interest at all times.

Therefore, the order of the album is imperative. Make sure to place those softer songs in a way that not only makes sense in the journey, but also lets the album breathe.

Singles

Singles are an entirely different beast because we need to pack the entire journey into one song. It needs to be straight to the point, hit the chorus early and be memorable on first listen.
As the producer, we need to ensure that both the song itself and the production doesn’t get too complicated. Keeping things simple will ensure that the lyrics all point to the main image of the song.

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