Swarthmore's independent campus newspaper since 1881

Tag archive

albums

The Longer the Better? Albums and Music in the Age of Streaming

in Arts by

 

On Jan. 26, Migos released “Culture II,” the sequel to their 2017 hit “Culture.” In many ways, “Culture II” sounded exactly like its predecessor, with its palette of moody trap beats, A-list features, triplet flows, and a healthy collection of Audemars Piguet watches. However, the two projects had one major difference: their length. Running an arduous 106 minutes over 24 tracks, “Culture II” was a long, bloated step down from “Culture” and its relatively compact tracklisting. Migos’ most recent effort, with an additional 11 tracks, was 50 minutes longer than their 2017 release. Long albums certainly aren’t an anomaly within the music industry; however, artists are increasingly releasing longer and longer albums. Ultimately, artists are trying to inflate their album sales by racking up streams on arduously long albums and exploiting the Billboard charts. While previously uncommon, more and more artists are putting out enormous, bloated albums to the detriment of their artistry.

To fully understand why long albums are financially beneficial to artists, the Billboard ranking criteria must be closely examined. According to Billboard, for an album to generate one “sale” on a streaming service, such as Spotify or Apple Music, songs must be played 1,500 times. The listener can choose to listen to the whole project or just one song. As long they generate 1,500 streams, a sale is added to the album’s Billboard ranking. So, if someone were to listen to “Culture,” they would have to play it around 115 times front to back before a sale was registered. “Culture II” in contrast would only have to be played 63 times to yield the same statistical boost to the Billboard count. In this way, people who simply play a long album and let it run its course end up being drastically more beneficial, allowing the album to stay on the charts longer and maintain its popularity and buzz.

Migos aren’t the only artists opting to put out longer projects. The trend appears to be concentrated in hip hop and R&B; artists such as Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, Jhene Aiko, and Drake have been releasing longer and longer material. Lil Yachty’s most recent project was 30 minutes longer than his debut. Lil Uzi Vert’s “Luv is Rage 2” was 20 minutes longer than the original “Luv is Rage,” and a half hour longer than “Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World” and “The Perfect Luv Tape.” Drake is an interesting case in that he has been exploiting the streaming loophole since 2016. His album “Views” was an arduous 90 minutes, ending with his ubiquitous hit “Hotline Bling.” The addition of “Hotline Bling” to the tracklisting is especially important, as Drake would have known that the song (which was nearly a year old when “Views” released) would continue to see heavy streaming. By adding “Hotline Bling” to the tracklisting Drake boosted his Billboard charting significantly, capitalizing on the population of listeners who just wanted to play “Hotline Bling.” The most egregious example of stream farming, however, is the most recent Chris Brown album, which boasted 45 tracks  running for 3 hours and 19 minutes, and a note from the artist to “leave the album on repeat.” If it wasn’t clear before, Chris Brown certainly signalled that artists are well aware of how to game the Billboard system.

It’s evident that artists are catching on to the trend of boosting their Billboard stats with longer albums, but the question of whether listeners should be concerned is another matter entirely. While artists certainly generate more revenue with these projects,  the decision to lengthen albums is hurtful to the artform. Artists are tacking songs onto their albums to rack up streams, creating a relatively disposable listening experience. Granted, not every artist is interested in producing a concise and cohesive album, but one would be hard-pressed to find a Lil Yachty or Migos fan who prefers their recent output to the more engaging (if shorter) “Culture” and “Lil Boat.” Ultimately, reform is necessary on the part of the Billboard charts. An artist shouldn’t have to be three times as popular as another artist in order for them to chart higher with a shorter album. This is not to say that artists should be forced to produce short bodies of work, only that those who choose to do so should not see charting as an unattainable goal. Streaming has undeniably changed the face of music today. However, listeners may not be doomed to sit through 100 minute projects until the end of their days. The new Lil Yachty release “Lil Boat 2,” expected soon, is 17 tracks long. While not a brief album by any means, “Lil Boat 2” will be six tracks shorter than “Teenage Emotions” after the latter was almost universally panned by critics and fans. It’s too early to say, but perhaps things are moving in the right direction.

 

Your New and Improved Winter Playlist

in Campus Journal by

Tired of listening to the same old Christmas songs now that it’s February? Wish you had the perfect playlist to take you somewhere warmer? Have some songs in mind now that you’ve read those first few sentences and want this list to validate your choices? Then look no further than this winter playlist, hand-crafted for 50% snow-loving weirdos and 50% those dreaming of catching a suntan. Let’s get into it!

1. “Oh, Miss Believer” by Twenty One Pilots

I don’t know about you, but the major thing I miss about Christmas music is the sleighbells. If you’re not afraid of getting a little emo, add some angst to your snowy walk through the Crum.  

 

2. “Hazy Shade of Winter” by Simon & Garfunkel

If you’re really into the classics, this is an upbeat number about the
changing of seasons and how to deal with it. If you’re anything like good ol’ S&G here, alcohol might work.

 

 

3. “Mt. Washington” by Local Natives

We get it. Sometimes it’s nice to be left alone when you’re suffering from hypothermia while walking to Sharples. With the hook on this song, if anyone bothers you, just unplug your headphones and let them have it.

 

 

 

4. “Sunshine Riptide” by Fall Out Boy ft. Burna Boy

Unlike many songs that go for a ~Caribbean feel~ without actually involving reggae, this song does its best to remind you that humans need sunlight, and you REALLY need to go outside.

 

 

 

 

5. “The A Team” by Ed Sheeran


Throwback! Admit it – you jammed to this song in middle school. We
all did. It deserves to be here on that basis alone.

 

 

 

6. “Lemon” by N.E.R.D & Rihanna

If you have the winter blues, you are definitely going to need this
absolute bop to show you that not all isbad in the world, and that you can always count on Rihanna to help you feel better.

 

 

 

7. “Strange Attractor” by Animal Kingdom

If you’re one of the lucky ones to have found your Winter Bae, congratulations! Use this song to serenade them. Hopefully, they’ll be able to get over the fact that you called them strange for half of the song.

 

 

 

8. “Around Me” by Epique

Not lucky enough to find a winter bae? That’s also fine! Use this song to prevent yourself from settling for second best. Remember: no f-boys.

 

 

 

 

9. “Ashes of Eden” by Breaking Benjamin

I know, I know – Breaking Benjamin is pretty hit or miss. I promise, if you set up the atmosphere for this one – sit by the snowy window, grab a hot chocolate, wear those hand-woven fingerless gloves all the people have on in the pictures when you Google “winter aesthetics” – this song can be soothing. Just try it.

 

 

10. “God’s Plan” by Drake

Last but not least, if you feel like God is wishing bad weather on you, find comfort knowing that it’s okay to only love your bed and your mama.

Go to Top