The Never Ending Album Project

Dave Iannacone

The idea of re-releasing an album is far from a new one. For years, repackaging and slightly altering the tracklist has been a brilliant way to keep interest in an album project. Artists such as Beyonce and Rihanna have seen massive success by using this formula. However, in recent years the trend has shifted to something on a much grander scale: the EP. By essentially releasing an entirely new mini-album, artists can increase the longevity of their project for almost as long as they want. Everyone from Coldplay to Lady Gaga to Usher, and now most recently Ke$ha, have capitalized greatly on this idea. Regardless of how an album is elongated, the question has to be asked; is this cheating?

On one hand, it really is a logical way to keep a project going. After about three singles are released, it’s a safe bet that almost everyone who’s going to buy the album already has, and thus adding more songs will only entice people to buy, possibly even a second time. As far as an EP release goes, it’s kind of a win-win. Look at Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster. The release could be purchased on its own or packaged with its parent album, The Fame. With hit singles on both releases, sales are guaranteed. No doubt Ke$ha’s upcoming Cannibal EP will see the same kind of success.

On the other hand, however, this just comes across as lazy. It’s really easy to come up with a couple new songs and tack them onto an album and release them as singles. It’s not even that difficult of a task to come up with six to eight songs to put out in pairing with the original album. I’m not saying the material isn’t good, in fact, I would dare say that Gaga’s The Fame Monster is better than most of The Fame; but, the idea of putting effort into an album seems to be diminished.

In the end, this is just what today’s music climate requires. With album sales as low as they are and digital downloads the most popular way of obtaining music, re-releases are pretty much the only saving grace for big acts. Artists have to keep their career afloat some how. The days of release upwards of 5 singles off an album are long gone, and with the amount of time it takes to properly record an album, a re-release (even an EP) just seems to be the way to go. The upside? More music! The Downside? The decline of the album, which for better or worse is rapidly turning the music industry on its head.