Put the bad songs at the end and all the good ones in the beginning?

The album format still misguides some artists. They make more songs just to meet the expected album format of 8-12 tracks, or at least 40 minutes.

But excess content actually degrades the album. Record labels think they can convince you to buy a whole album on the premise of the first 3-5 good songs. In reality, listeners are merely consuming singles, or not even buying at all.

Listeners today stream songs a la carte on YouTube, Spotify, or SoundCloud and merely add those songs to their playlist all without spending a dime. Listeners pay with attention, not money.

If the music is the marketing today to drive live shows and merchandise, then why would a band risk publishing one bad song?

Radiohead is the first band that comes to mind in producing holistic albums. Radiohead treats their albums like novels, with each song or chapter shaping the album from beginning to end. You can’t skip a track if you want to understand the ebb and flow of the entire story. 

For music albums, less is generally more. Enchancing the album with more songs doesn’t actually make the music better but worse.

Bands should consider the EP instead of the LP; create and publish their best 4-5 songs instead of 8-12. Unless you’re trying to tell a story through your music, it shouldn’t matter if your best tracks play in the beginning or at the end. All songs on the album should be fungible as they already will be on the listener’s playlist. 

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of and four books.