The Shape of Art
My latest album, ‘White Hot Fire, Vol. 1’ is out now. From here on out, my standup albums will be a series of short form EPs, so expect Vol. 2 in a few months and Vol. 3 right around late July.
I’ve always loved the audio album format. Audio albums are how I discovered most of the music and comedy that have influenced and shaped my perspective to this very day. The level of intimacy and commitment that comes with putting on a pair of headphones, closing your eyes and diving into a world of thought expressed through musical instruments or punch lines can’t be matched. Audio albums have always been the more affordable option, can be short or long and recorded anywhere at any time without any precedent. Unlike a lot of the amazing concert films and highly stylized specials that capture a version of the artist, audio albums usually serve as a sonic snapshot of where the artist is currently. Thanks to hyper advancing technology, these snapshots are easier to capture and share than ever.
Technology and art have always gone hand in hand. From cave etchings to graphics on iPads, from campfire stories to novels read on, well, iPads come to think of it. From visual storytelling on a local stage to movies shot, edited and distributed globally on—damn, iPads too, huh? Music was once played via needle and grooved wax, can but now be recorded, mixed and released as albums on—no fucking way, iPads do all that too?! Do I need an iPad?? I’m getting an iPad. These days, we can make way, way more way, way faster and way, way cheaper, but the drawback is the tsunami of content has made the average consumer appetite insatiable. We’re art-thirsty monsters who want 24 hour access to the entertainment buffet or we’ll eat your fucking family. We want more! More! MORE! And we’re prepared to wait exactly zero minutes for it.
The music industry has adapted to technology many times over the last century and it has had a major effect on how artists make and distribute their creations. When people listened to radio and extended play (EP) records, the single reigned supreme. Then the long play (LP) record comes along and changes the game. Music was released less often, but albums became longer and 10 minute songs and concept albums became a new part of the listening experience. CDs came along and changed albums yet again. Their 79 minute storage capacity made albums way, way too long thanks in part to record labels forcing artists to fill every last available moment of space in order to suck every last available penny out of our pockets. This current world of instant, digital consumption leaves us with endless options. Since the average wait time for anything is zero minutes, releasing one full-length album every 12 – 18 months is not enough to keep people engaged. Services like Spotify have made every song ever available for less than $10 a month. We can shuffle hundreds of random songs all day in the background while we float through life. A lot of us aren’t concerned with the album experience anymore. What does this mean? The single is back. Bands are putting out more singles for albums than they have in decades. The EP has also come back into favor. We can sit here and wonder if this is good news or bad news, but the answer is it’s however you choose to use it. Technology won’t wait and neither will people who need to consume good art. I believe an artist’s career is a long, ongoing conversation about life and experiences and we’re living in an age where we can reach out and have that conversation with more people than ever. Until of course the robot uprising enslaves us all.