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An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on
compact disc The compact disc (CD) is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electronics Electronics compri ...

compact disc
(CD),
vinyl Vinyl may refer to: * Vinyl group In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior an ...
,
audio tape An audio tape recorder, also known as a tape deck, tape player or tape machine or simply a tape recorder, is a sound recording and reproduction device that records and plays back sounds usually using magnetic tape for storage. In its presen ...
, or another medium. Albums of recorded sound were developed in the early 20th century as individual
78-rpm records A phonograph disc record (also known as a gramophone disc record, especially in British English), or simply a phonograph record, gramophone record, disc record or record, is an analog signal, analog sound Recording medium, storage medium in the ...
collected in a bound book resembling a
photograph album A photographic album or photo album, is a series of photographic prints collected by an individual person or family in the form of a book. Some book-form photo albums have compartments which the photos may be slipped into; other albums have heavy ...
; this format evolved after 1948 into single vinyl
LP record The LP (from "long playing" or "long play") is an analog sound storage medium, a phonograph record format characterized by: a speed of  revolutions per minute, rpm; a 12- or 10-inch (30- or 25-cm) diameter; use of the "microgroove" gro ...
s played at  
rpm Revolutions per minute (abbreviated rpm, RPM, rev/min, r/min, or with the notation min−1) is the number of turns in one minute The minute is a unit Unit may refer to: Arts and entertainment * UNIT, a fictional military organization in the ...
. The album was the dominant form of recorded music expression and consumption from the mid-1960s to the early 21st century, a period known as the
album era The album era was a period in English-language popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people ...
. Vinyl LPs are still issued, though
album sales Record sales or music sales are activities related to selling music recordings (album An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on (CD), , , or another medium. Albums of recorded sound were developed in the earl ...
in the 21st-century have mostly focused on CD and
MP3 MP3 (formally MPEG-1 Audio Layer III or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III) is a coding format for digital audio Digital audio is a representation of sound recorded in, or converted into, Digital signal (signal processing), digital form. In digital a ...

MP3
formats. The
8-track tape The 8-track tape (formally Stereo 8; commonly called eight-track cartridge, eight-track tape, and eight-track) is a magnetic-tape sound recording technology that was popular from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, when the Compact Cassette ...
was the first tape format widely used alongside vinyl from 1965 until being phased out by 1983 and was gradually supplanted by the
compact cassette The Compact Cassette or Musicassette (MC), also commonly called the tape cassette, cassette tape, audio cassette, or simply tape or cassette, is an analog magnetic tape Magnetic tape is a medium for , made of a thin, magnetizable coating ...

compact cassette
during the 1970s and early 1980s; the popularity of the cassette reached its peak during the late 1980s, sharply declined during the 1990s and had largely disappeared during the first decade of the 2000s. Most albums are recorded in a
studio A studio is an artist An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional pow ...

studio
, although they may also be recorded in a concert venue, at home, in the field, or a mix of places. The time frame for completely recording an album varies between a few hours to several years. This process usually requires several
take A take is a single continuous recorded performance. The term is used in film and music to denote and track the stages of production. Film In cinematography Cinematography (from ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of t ...

take
s with different parts recorded separately, and then brought or " mixed" together. Recordings that are done in one take without
overdubbing Overdubbing (also known as layering) is a technique used in audio recording where a passage (typically musical) has been pre-recorded, and then during replay, another part is recorded to go along with the original. The overdub process can be repeat ...
are termed "live", even when done in a studio. Studios are built to absorb sound, eliminating
reverberation Reverberation (also known as reverb), in acoustics Acoustics is a branch of physics that deals with the study of mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including topics such as vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound. A scientist ...
, to assist in mixing different takes; other locations, such as concert venues and some "live rooms", have reverberation, which creates a "live" sound. Recordings, including live, may contain editing, sound effects, voice adjustments, etc. With
modern recording technology Modern may refer to: History *Modern history ** Early Modern period ** Modern age, Late Modern period *** 18th century *** 19th century *** 20th century ** Contemporary history * Moderns, a faction of Freemasonry that existed in the 18th century ...
, artists can be recorded in separate rooms or at separate times while listening to the other parts using
headphones Headphones are a pair of small loudspeaker drivers worn on or around the head over a user's ears. They are electroacousticElectroacoustic or Electroacoustics may refer to: * Electroacoustics (acoustical engineering), a branch of acoustical ...

headphones
; with each part recorded as a separate track.
Album cover An album cover is the front of the packaging Packaging is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), organizes knowledge in t ...
s and
liner notes Liner notes (also sleeve notes or album notes) are the writings found on the sleeves of LP record The LP (from "long playing" or "long play") is an analog sound storage medium, a phonograph record format characterized by: a speed of &nbs ...
are used, and sometimes additional information is provided, such as analysis of the recording, and
lyrics Lyrics are word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many lang ...
or
libretto A libretto (Italian for "booklet") is the text used in, or intended for, an extended musical work such as an opera Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, u ...
s. Historically, the term "album" was applied to a collection of various items housed in a
book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, data are a set of v ...

book
format. In musical usage the word was used for collections of short pieces of
printed music Sheet music is a handwritten or printed form of musical notation Music notation or musical notation is any system used to visually represent aurally perceived music played with instrument (music), instruments or singing, sung by the hum ...
from the early nineteenth century. Later, collections of related
78rpm record A phonograph disc record (also known as a gramophone disc record, especially in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language va ...
s were bundled in book-like albumsCross, Alan (15 July 2012
Life After the Album Is Going to Get Weird
alancross.ca
(one side of a
78 rpm record A phonograph disc record (also known as a gramophone disc record, especially in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language va ...
could hold only about 3.5 minutes of sound). When
long-playing record The LP (from "long playing" or "long play") is an analog sound storage medium Data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, data are a set of values of qual ...
s were introduced, a collection of pieces or songs on a single record was called an "album"; the word was extended to other recording media such as
compact disc The compact disc (CD) is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electronics Electronics compri ...

compact disc
,
MiniDisc MiniDisc (MD) is a Magneto-optical drive, magneto-optical disc-based data storage device, data storage format offering a capacity of 60, 74, and later, 80 minutes of digitized sound, audio. Sony brand audio players went on the market in Sep ...

MiniDisc
,
Compact audio cassette The Compact Cassette or Musicassette (MC), also commonly called the tape cassette, cassette tape, audio cassette, or simply tape or cassette, is an analog audio, analog magnetic tape recording format for Sound recording and reproduction, audio ...
,
8-track tape The 8-track tape (formally Stereo 8; commonly called eight-track cartridge, eight-track tape, and eight-track) is a magnetic-tape sound recording technology that was popular from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, when the Compact Cassette ...
and digital albums as they were introduced.


History

An ''
album An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), Phonograph record, vinyl, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded sound were developed in the early 20th century as individual Phonograph rec ...
'' (Latin ''albus'', white), in ancient Rome, was a board chalked or painted white, on which decrees, edicts, and other public notices were inscribed in black. It was from this that in medieval and modern times album came to denote a book of blank pages in which verses, autographs, sketches, photographs and the like are collected. This in turn led to the modern meaning of an album as a collection of audio recordings issued as a single item. In the early nineteenth century "album" was occasionally used in the titles of some classical music sets, such as
Schumann Robert Schumann (; 8 June 181029 July 1856) was a German composer, pianist, and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an ar ...

Schumann
's ''
Album for the Young ''Album for the Young'' ('), Op. 68, was composed by Robert Schumann in 1848 for his three daughters. The album consists of a collection of 43 short works. Unlike the ', they are suitable to be played by children or beginners. The second part, sta ...
'' Opus 68, a set of 43 short pieces. With the advent of
78rpm record A phonograph disc record (also known as a gramophone disc record, especially in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language va ...
s in the early 1900s, the typical 10-inch disc could only hold about three minutes of sound per side, so almost all popular recordings were limited to around three minutes in length. Classical-music and spoken-word items generally were released on the longer 12-inch 78s, playing around 4–5 minutes per side. For example, in 1924,
George Gershwin George Gershwin (; born Jacob Gershwine; September 26, 1898 – July 11, 1937) was an American pianist and composer, whose compositions spanned both popular and classical genres. Among his best-known works are the orchestral compositions ' ...

George Gershwin
recorded a drastically shortened version of his new seventeen-minute composition ''
Rhapsody in Blue ''Rhapsody in Blue'' is a 1924 musical composition written by George Gershwin George Gershwin (; born Jacob Gershwine; September 26, 1898 – July 11, 1937) was an American pianist and composer, whose compositions spanned both popula ...

Rhapsody in Blue
'' with
Paul Whiteman Paul Samuel 'Pops' Whiteman (March 28, 1890 – December 29, 1967) was an American bandleader A bandleader is the leader of a music group such as a rock or pop band or jazz quartet In music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time ...

Paul Whiteman
and His Orchestra. The recording was issued on both sides of a single record, Victor 55225 and ran for 8m 59s. By 1910, though some European record companies had issued albums of complete operas and other works, the practice of issuing albums was not widely taken up by American record companies until the 1920s. By about 1910, bound collections of empty sleeves with a
paperboard Paperboard is a thick paper Paper is a thin sheet material Material is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with ...
or
leather Leather is a strong, flexible and durable material obtained from the tanning Tanning may refer to: *Tanning (leather), treating animal skins to produce leather *Sun tanning, using the sun to darken pale skin **Indoor tanning, the use of arti ...

leather
cover, similar to a photograph album, were sold as record albums that customers could use to store their records (the term "record album" was printed on some covers). These albums came in both 10-inch and 12-inch sizes. The covers of these bound books were wider and taller than the records inside, allowing the record album to be placed on a shelf upright, like a book, suspending the fragile records above the shelf and protecting them. In the 1930s, record companies began issuing collections of 78 rpm records by one performer or of one type of music in specially assembled albums, typically with artwork on the front cover and liner notes on the back or inside cover. Most albums included three or four records, with two sides each, making six or eight compositions per album. The 10-inch and 12-inch
LP record The LP (from "long playing" or "long play") is an analog sound storage medium, a phonograph record format characterized by: a speed of  revolutions per minute, rpm; a 12- or 10-inch (30- or 25-cm) diameter; use of the "microgroove" gro ...
(long play), or  
rpm Revolutions per minute (abbreviated rpm, RPM, rev/min, r/min, or with the notation min−1) is the number of turns in one minute The minute is a unit Unit may refer to: Arts and entertainment * UNIT, a fictional military organization in the ...
microgroove
vinyl Vinyl may refer to: * Vinyl group In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior an ...
record, is a
gramophone record A phonograph disc record (also known as a gramophone disc record, especially in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language va ...
format introduced by
Columbia Records Columbia Records is an American record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other seller ...

Columbia Records
in 1948. A single LP record often had the same or similar number of tunes as a typical album of 78s, and it was adopted by the record industry as a standard format for the "album". Apart from relatively minor refinements and the important later addition of
stereophonic Stereophonic sound or, more commonly, stereo, is a method of sound reproduction that recreates a multi-directional, 3-dimensional audible perspective. This is usually achieved by using two independent audio channels through a configuration ...
sound capability, it has remained the standard format for vinyl albums. The term "album" was extended to other recording media such as
8-track tape The 8-track tape (formally Stereo 8; commonly called eight-track cartridge, eight-track tape, and eight-track) is a magnetic-tape sound recording technology that was popular from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, when the Compact Cassette ...
,
Compact audio cassette The Compact Cassette or Musicassette (MC), also commonly called the tape cassette, cassette tape, audio cassette, or simply tape or cassette, is an analog audio, analog magnetic tape recording format for Sound recording and reproduction, audio ...
,
compact disc The compact disc (CD) is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electronics Electronics compri ...

compact disc
,
MiniDisc MiniDisc (MD) is a Magneto-optical drive, magneto-optical disc-based data storage device, data storage format offering a capacity of 60, 74, and later, 80 minutes of digitized sound, audio. Sony brand audio players went on the market in Sep ...

MiniDisc
, and digital albums, as they were introduced. As part of a trend of shifting sales in the
music industry The music industry consists of the individuals and organizations that earn money by writing Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic lan ...
, some observers feel that the early 21st century experienced the
death of the album The album era was a period in English-language popular music Popular music is music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General ...
.


Length

An album may contain as many or as few tracks as required. In the United States,
The Recording Academy The Recording Academy (formally the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences; abbreviated NARAS) is an American Learned society, learned academy of musicians, producers, recording engineers, and other musical professionals. It is famous f ...
's rules for
Grammy Award The Grammy Award (stylized as GRAMMY, originally called Gramophone Award), or just Grammy, is an award presented by the Recording Academy, the US Recording Academy to recognize "Outstanding Achievement in the music industry" of the United State ...
s state that an album must comprise a minimum total playing time of 15 minutes with at least five distinct tracks or a minimum total playing time of 30 minutes with no minimum track requirement. In the United Kingdom, the criteria for the
UK Albums Chart The Official Albums Chart is a list of albums ranked by physical and digital sales and (from March 2015) audio streaming Streaming media is multimedia that is delivered and consumed in a continuous manner from a source, with little or no in ...
is that a recording counts as an "album" if it either has more than four tracks or lasts more than 25 minutes. Sometimes shorter albums are referred to as "
mini-album A mini-LP or mini-album is a short vinyl record album or LP, usually retailing at a lower price than an album that would be considered full-length. It is distinct from an EP due to containing more tracks and a slightly longer running length. A ...
s" or EPs. Albums such as ''
Tubular Bells Tubular bells (also known as chimes) are musical instruments A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through pur ...
'', ''
Amarok Amarok may refer to: * Amarok (wolf), a wolf in Inuit mythology * Amarok (software), an open-source audio player named after a 1990 Mike Oldfield album * Volkswagen Amarok, a pickup truck named after the mythological wolf Music

* Amarok (band ...
'', ''
Hergest Ridge Hergest Ridge is a large elongated hill which traverses the Wales-England border, border between England and Wales in the United Kingdom, between the town of Kington, Herefordshire, Kington in Herefordshire and the village of Gladestry, Gladestry ...
'' by
Mike Oldfield Michael Gordon Oldfield (born 15 May 1953) is a British musician, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter best known for his debut studio album ''Tubular Bells'' (1973), which became an unexpected critical and commercial success and propelled him ...
, and
Yes Yes or YES may refer to: * An affirmative particle in the English language; see yes and no ''Yes'' and ''no'', or word pairs with similar words, are expressions of the affirmative and the negative, respectively, in several languages, includi ...
's ''
Close to the Edge ''Close to the Edge'' is the fifth studio album by English progressive rock Progressive rock (often shortened to prog; sometimes called art rock Art rock is a subgenre of rock music that generally reflects a challenging or avant-garde a ...
'', include fewer than four tracks, but still surpass the 25-minute mark. The album ''
Dopesmoker ''Jerusalem'' and ''Dopesmoker'' are two versions of the third album by the American heavy metal Heavy metal may refer to: *Heavy metals, a loose category of relatively dense metals and metalloids **Toxic heavy metal, any heavy metal chemical ...
'' by
Sleep Sleep is a naturally recurring state of mind and body, characterized by altered consciousness Consciousness, at its simplest, is or of internal and external existence. Despite millennia of analyses, definitions, explanations and deba ...
contains only a single track, but the composition is over 63 minutes long. There are no formal rules against
artist An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipeda ...

artist
s such as
Pinhead Gunpowder Pinhead Gunpowder is an American punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composi ...
referring to their own releases under thirty minutes as "albums". If an album becomes too long to fit onto a single vinyl record or CD, it may be released as a
double album A double album (or double record) is an sound, audio album which spans two units of the primary medium in which it is sold, typically gramophone record, records and compact disc. A double album is usually, though not always, released as such beca ...
where two vinyl LPs or compact discs are packaged together in a single case, or a
triple album A double album (or double record) is an audio Audio most commonly refers to sound In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the n ...
containing three LPs or compact discs. Recording artists who have an extensive back catalogue may re-release several CDs in one single box with a unified design, often containing one or more albums (in this scenario, these releases can sometimes be referred to as a "two (or three)-fer"), or a compilation of previously unreleased recordings. These are known as
box set A box set or boxed set is a set of items (for example, a compilation of books, musical recordings, films or television programs) traditionally packaged in a box and is offered for sale as a single unit. Music Artists and bands with an extremely ...
s. Some musical artists have also released more than three compact discs or LP records of new recordings at once, in the form of boxed sets, although in that case the work is still usually considered to be an album.


Tracks

Material (music or sounds) is stored on an album in sections termed tracks, normally 12 tracks. A music track (often simply referred to as a track) is an individual
song A song is a musical composition Musical composition can refer to an piece or work of , either or , the of a musical piece or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called s ...

song
or
instrumental An instrumental is a recording normally without any vocals, although it might include some inarticulate vocal The human voice consists of sound In physics, sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmissio ...

instrumental
recording. The term is particularly associated with
popular music Popular music is music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its ...
where separate tracks are known as album tracks; the term is also used for other formats such as EPs and
singlesSingles may refer to: * Single persons and associated businesses and discussions Film and television * Singles (miniseries), ''Singles'' (miniseries), a 1984 Australian television series * Singles (1992 film), ''Singles'' (1992 film), written and ...
. When vinyl records were the primary medium for audio recordings a track could be identified visually from the grooves and many album covers or sleeves included numbers for the tracks on each side. On a
compact disc The compact disc (CD) is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electronics Electronics compri ...

compact disc
the track number is indexed so that a player can jump straight to the start of any track. On digital music stores such as
iTunes iTunes () is a media player, media library, Internet radio Internet radio (also web radio, net radio, streaming radio, e-radio, IP radio, online radio) is a digital audio Digital audio is a representation of sound recorded in, or ...

iTunes
the term song is often used interchangeably with track regardless of whether there is any vocal content.


Bonus tracks

A bonus track (also known as a bonus cut or bonus) is a piece of music which has been included as an extra. This may be done as a marketing promotion, or for other reasons. It is not uncommon to include singles as bonus tracks on re-issues of old albums, where those tracks weren't originally included. Online music stores allow buyers to create their own albums by selecting songs themselves; bonus tracks may be included if a customer buys a whole album rather than just one or two songs from the artist. The song is not necessarily free nor is it available as a stand-alone download, adding also to the incentive to buy the complete album. In contrast to
hidden track In the field of recorded music, a hidden track (sometimes called a ghost track or a secret track or an unlisted track) is a song or a piece of audio that has been placed on a CD, audio cassette, LP record, or other recorded medium, in such a wa ...
s, bonus tracks are included on track listings and usually do not have a gap of silence between other album tracks. Bonus tracks on CD or vinyl albums are common in Japan for releases by European and North American artists; since importing international copies of the album can be cheaper than buying a domestically-released version, Japanese releases often feature bonus tracks to incentivize domestic purchase.


Audio formats


Non-audio printed format

Commercial sheet music are published in conjunction with the release of a new album (studio, compilation, soundtrack, etc.). A matching folio songbook is a compilation of the
music notation Music is the art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelli ...

music notation
of all the songs included in that particular album. It typically has the album's artwork on its cover and, in addition to sheet music, it includes photos of the artist. Most pop and rock releases come in standard Piano/Vocal/Guitar notation format (and occasionally Easy Piano / E-Z Play Today). Rock-oriented releases may also come in Guitar Recorded Versions edition, which are note-for-note transcriptions written directly from artist recordings.


Vinyl records

Vinyl LP records have two sides, each comprising one-half of the album. If a
pop Pop or POP may refer to: Places * Gregorio Luperón International Airport (IATA code POP), Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic * Pop, a tributary of the river Jijia in eastern Romania * Poppleton railway station (station code), York, England People ...
or
rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) In geology, a rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, chemical composition and ...
album contained tracks released separately as commercial
singlesSingles may refer to: * Single persons and associated businesses and discussions Film and television * Singles (miniseries), ''Singles'' (miniseries), a 1984 Australian television series * Singles (1992 film), ''Singles'' (1992 film), written and ...
, they were conventionally placed in particular positions on the album. During the Sixties, particularly in the UK, singles were generally released separately from albums. Today, many commercial albums of music tracks feature one or more singles, which are released separately to radio, TV or the Internet as a way of promoting the album. Albums have been issued that are compilations of older tracks not originally released together, such as singles not originally found on albums,
b-sides B-Sides or B-Side may refer to: * B-side A-side and B-side are terms used to refer to the two sides of phonograph records and Compact cassette, cassettes, and have often been printed on the labels of two-sided music recordings. The A-side usua ...
of singles, or unfinished "
demo Demo may refer to: Music and film *Demo (music) A demo (shortened from "demonstration") is a song or group of songs typically recorded for limited circulation or for reference use, rather than for general public release. A demo is a way for a m ...
" recordings. Double albums during the Seventies were sometimes sequenced for record changers. In the case of a two-record set, for example, sides 1 and 4 would be stamped on one record, and sides 2 and 3 on the other. The user would stack the two records onto the spindle of an automatic record changer, with side 1 on the bottom and side 2 (on the other record) on top. Side 1 would automatically drop onto the
turntable A phonograph, in its later forms also called a gramophone (as a trademark since 1887, as a generic name in the UK since 1910) or since the 1940s called a record player, is a device for the mechanical recording and reproduction of sound I ...

turntable
and be played. When finished, the tone arm's position would trigger a mechanism which moved the arm out of the way, dropped the record with side 2, and played it. When both records had been played, the user would pick up the stack, turn it over, and put them back on the spindle—sides 3 and 4 would then play in sequence. Record changers were used for many years of the LP era, but eventually fell out of use.


8-track tape

8-track tape (formally Stereo 8: commonly known as the eight-track cartridge, eight-track tape, or simply eight-track) is a
magnetic tape sound recording An audio tape recorder, also known as a tape deck, tape player or tape machine or simply a tape recorder, is a sound recording and reproduction device that records and plays back sounds usually using magnetic tape for storage. In its presen ...
technology popular in the United States from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s when the
Compact Cassette The Compact Cassette or Musicassette (MC), also commonly called the tape cassette, cassette tape, audio cassette, or simply tape or cassette, is an analog magnetic tape Magnetic tape is a medium for , made of a thin, magnetizable coating ...

Compact Cassette
format took over. The format is regarded as an obsolete technology, and was relatively unknown outside the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Stereo 8 was created in 1964 by a consortium led by
Bill Lear William Powell Lear (June 26, 1902 – May 14, 1978) was an American inventor and businessman. He is best known for founding the Lear Jet Learjet is a Canadian-owned aerospace manufacturer of business jets for civilian and military use based ...

Bill Lear
of
Lear Jet Learjet is a Canadian-owned aerospace manufacturer of business jets for civilian and military use based in Wichita, Kansas, United States. Founded in the late 1950s by Bill Lear, William Powell Lear as Swiss American Aviation Corporation, it has ...
Corporation, along with
Ampex Ampex is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States ( ...
,
Ford Motor Company Ford Motor Company (commonly known as Ford) is an American multinational corporation, multinational automobile manufacturer headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, Dearborn, Michigan, United States. It was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated ...
,
General Motors General Motors Company (GM) is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinat ...

General Motors
,
Motorola Motorola, Inc. () was an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinational sta ...

Motorola
, and
RCA Victor Records RCA Records is an American record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Bra ...
(RCA). It was a further development of the similar
Stereo-Pak The Muntz Stereo-Pak, commonly known as the 4-track cartridge, is a magnetic tape sound recording An audio tape recorder, also known as a tape deck, tape player or tape machine or simply a tape recorder, is a sound recording and reprodu ...
four-track cartridge created by
Earl "Madman" Muntz Earl William "Madman" Muntz (January 3, 1914 – June 21, 1987) was an American businessman and engineer who sold and promoted cars and consumer electronics in the United States from the 1930s until his death in 1987. He was a pioneer in telev ...
. A later
quadraphonic Quadraphonic (or ''Quadrophonic'' and sometimes ''Quadrasonic'') sound In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge ...
version of the format was announced by RCA in April 1970 and first known as Quad-8, then later changed to just Q8.


Compact cassette

The Compact Cassette was a popular medium for distributing pre-recorded music from the early 1970s to the early 2000s. The first "Compact Cassette" was introduced by
Philips Koninklijke Philips N.V. (in Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer t ...

Philips
in August 1963 in the form of a prototype. Compact Cassettes became especially popular during the 1980s after the advent of the Sony
Walkman Walkman is a brand of portable audio player A portable audio player is a personal mobile device A mobile device (or handheld computer) is a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or ...

Walkman
, which allowed the person to control what they listened to. The Walkman was convenient because of its size, the device could fit in most pockets and often came equipped with a clip for belts or pants. Compact cassettes also saw the creation of
mixtape A mixtape (alternatively mix-tape or mix tape) is a compilation of music, typically from multiple sources, recorded onto a medium. With origins in the 1980s, the term normally describes a homemade compilation of music onto a cassette tape Th ...

mixtape
s, which are tapes containing a compilation of songs created by any average listener of music. The songs on a mixtape generally relate to one another in some way, whether it be a conceptual theme or an overall sound. The compact cassette used double-sided
magnetic tape Magnetic tape is a medium for , made of a thin, magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of . It was developed in Germany in 1928, based on . Devices that record and playback audio and video using magnetic tape are s and s respectively. A ...
to distribute music for commercial sale. The music is recorded on both the "A" and "B" side of the tape, with cassette being "turned" to play the other side of the album. Compact Cassettes were also a popular way for musicians to record "
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" or "Demo Tapes" of their music to distribute to various record labels, in the hopes of acquiring a
recording contract A recording contract (commonly called a record contract or record deal) is a legal agreement between a record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies ...
. The sales of Compact Cassettes eventually began to decline in the 1990s, after the release and distribution
Compact Disc The compact disc (CD) is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electronics Electronics compri ...

Compact Disc
s. After the introduction of Compact discs, the term "Mixtape" began to apply to any personal compilation of songs on any given format. Recently there has been a revival of Compact Cassettes by independent record labels and DIY musicians who prefer the format because of its difficulty to Copyright infringement#"Piracy", share over the internet.


Compact disc

The compact disc format replaced both the vinyl record and the cassette as the standard for the commercial mass-market distribution of physical music albums. After the introduction of music downloading and MP3 players such as the iPod, US
album sales Record sales or music sales are activities related to selling music recordings (album An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on (CD), , , or another medium. Albums of recorded sound were developed in the earl ...
dropped 54.6% from 2001 to 2009. The CD is a digital data storage device which permits digital recording technology to be used to record and play-back the recorded music.


MP3 albums, and similar

Most recently, the
MP3 MP3 (formally MPEG-1 Audio Layer III or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III) is a coding format for digital audio Digital audio is a representation of sound recorded in, or converted into, Digital signal (signal processing), digital form. In digital a ...

MP3
audio format has matured, revolutionizing the concept of digital storage. Early MP3 albums were essentially CD-rips created by early CD-ripping software, and sometimes real-time rips from cassettes and vinyl. The so-called "MP3 album" is not necessarily just in MP3 file format, in which higher quality formats such as FLAC and WAV can be used on storage media that MP3 albums reside on, such as CD-ROM, CD-R-ROMs, hard drives, flash memory (e.g. USB flash drive, thumbdrives, MP3 players, SD cards), etc.


Types of album

The contents of the album are usually recorded in a
studio A studio is an artist An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional pow ...

studio
or live in concert, though may be recorded in other locations, such as at home (as with JJ Cale's ''Okie (J. J. Cale album), Okie'', Beck's ''Odelay'', David Gray's ''White Ladder'', and others), in the field - as with early Blues recordings, in prison, or with a mobile recording unit such as the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio.


Studio

Most albums are studio albums — that is, they are recorded in a recording studio with equipment meant to give those overseeing the recording as much control as possible over the sound of the album. They minimize external noises and reverberations and have highly sensitive microphones and sound mixing equipment. In some studios, each member of a band records their part in separate rooms (or even at separate times, while listening to the other parts of the track with headphones to keep the timing right). In recent years, with the advent of email, it has become possible for musicians to record their part of a song in another studio in another part of the world, and send their contribution over email to be included in the final product.


Live

Recordings that are done in one take without
overdubbing Overdubbing (also known as layering) is a technique used in audio recording where a passage (typically musical) has been pre-recorded, and then during replay, another part is recorded to go along with the original. The overdub process can be repeat ...
are termed "live", even when done in a studio. Concert or stage performances are recorded using remote recording techniques. Live albums may be recorded at a single concert, or combine recordings made at multiple concerts. They may include applause and other noise from the audience, comments by the performers between pieces, improvisation, and so on. They may use multitrack recording direct from the stage sound system (rather than microphones placed among the audience), and can employ additional manipulation and effects during post-production to enhance the quality of the recording. Live
double album A double album (or double record) is an sound, audio album which spans two units of the primary medium in which it is sold, typically gramophone record, records and compact disc. A double album is usually, though not always, released as such beca ...
s emerged during the 1970s. Appraising the concept in ''Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies'' (1981), Robert Christgau said most "are profit-taking recaps marred by sound and format inappropriate to phonographic reproduction (you can't put sights, smells, or fellowship on audio tape). But for Joe Cocker and Bette Midler and Before the Flood (album), Bob-Dylan-in-the-arena, the form makes a compelling kind of sense." The first-ever live album was Ritchie Valens' ''Ritchie Valens In Concert at Pacoima Jr. High''. The best-selling live album worldwide is Garth Brooks' ''Double Live (Garth Brooks album), Double Live'', which shipped over 10.5 million 2-CD sets in the United States alone as of November 2006. In Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, ''Rolling Stone''s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 18 albums were live albums.


Solo

A solo album, in
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, is an album recorded by a current or former member of a musical group which is released under that artist's name only, even though some or all other band members may be involved. The solo album appeared as early as the late 1940s. A 1947 ''Billboard (magazine), Billboard'' magazine article heralded "Margaret Whiting huddling with Capitol Records, Capitol execs over her first solo album on which she will be backed by Frank De Vol". There is no formal definition setting forth the amount of participation a band member can solicit from other members of their band, and still have the album referred to as a solo album. One reviewer wrote that Ringo Starr's third venture, ''Ringo (album), Ringo'', "[t]echnically... wasn't a solo album because all four Beatles appeared on it". Three of the four members of the Beatles released solo albums while the group was officially still together. A performer may record a solo album for several reasons. A Solo (music), solo performer working with other members will typically have full creative control of the band, be able to hire and fire accompanists, and get the majority of the proceeds. The performer may be able to produce songs that differ widely from the sound of the band with which the performer has been associated, or that the group as a whole chose not to include in its own albums. Graham Nash of The Hollies described his experience in developing a solo album as follows: "The thing that I go through that results in a solo album is an interesting process of collecting songs that can't be done, for whatever reason, by a lot of people". A solo album may also represent the departure of the performer from the group.


Tribute or cover

A tribute or cover album is a collection of cover versions of songs or instrumental compositions. Its concept may involve various artists covering the songs of a single artist, genre or period, a single artist covering the songs of various artists or a single artist, genre or period, or any variation of an album of cover songs which is marketed as a "tribute".


See also

* Album-equivalent unit * Album-oriented rock * Art release * Comedy album * Compilation album * Concept album * Lists of albums * Record sales * Remix album * Soundtrack album * Split album


References

{{Authority control Albums, Media formats