A Living Album: Why Stereo Thesis Albums Grow and Change Over Time


I just wanted explain something real quick to everyone following our growth and evolution and that's the idea of a "living album." A living album is an album concept - not a concept album - where new music is posted to an album which has already been released as a full length. The main difference between a living album and a CD or an album in mP3 format is that the living album can and often does increase in content or change over time.

The Living Album: What It Is and Why It's New

A living album can also be viewed as digital intellectual property similar to a blog where an author posts articles, news, and ideas regularly for his readers in ongoing fashion, the only difference being in the case of the living album the musician or composer posts music regularly instead of reading materials. Today, with the Internet you can visit your favorite band's website and check out the new music they're publishing in real time via streaming video or (free/paid) mP3 downloads. Today, you don't need to wait for a release date. Today, you don't have to get ripped off when you buy an album where, if you're lucky, half the tracks are any good. This is how the "living" or "expandable" album came into being. As the CD began to die off, so did the idea of the album.

In the past, an album was a playable fixed arrangement of songs written, produced, or performed by a musician, composer, or artist. It usually took the form of a vinyl record, cassette tape, CD, and now an mP3 digital file. Today, an album only exists if the artist chooses to create one, but it is no longer his sole creative or productive option. Today the album is only one item in an artist's product line included among other items such as T-shirts, bumper stickers, CD sampler's, YouTube videos, DVD's, live performances, goodwill (Lilith Fair), music festivals (Lollapalooza) and much more. Similarly, the living album frees the artist from cost considerations in regard to the song's he selects for inclusion on a collection or album - if he so chooses. In other words, the artist can include the content he or she wants on a digital album, DVD, live performance, or studio recording according to their creative specifications. Suffice it to say that gone are the days where an artist must withhold a certain quantity of music because an executive, the marketing department, or the budget wouldn't allow it. Today, the artist can make all his work - the good, the bad, and the great work - known to his fans and posterity.

The living album is an "Information Age" concept tied to the birth of the Internet. When music companies ruled the landscape when it came to music publishing, marketing, and distribution "the album" and sometimes, but not always, the artist was the main product. That's why so much investment went into the album - artwork, studio time, post production, packaging, marketing, distribution, as well as the artist's image because the music company expected a very high (ROI) return on investment.

3 Types of Artistic Operation

An individual goes through phases throughout his lifetime where he ponders the universe in which he exists in one or a mixture of 3 ways: linearly, cyclically, or in confusion.

The artist who operates linearly progresses as a creative person by moving from one style or technique to another without returning to a previous stage of development. They are always seeking improvement or something new. This person is most often associated with pioneering exploration.

In contrast, the creative person who functions on a cyclical basis travels among a set of a few approaches or styles of creativity moving from one to another, but within a narrow range of choices. A pattern may even emerge for the person who operates in a cyclical manner where they relate their work to seasons, weather, times of the day or year, and environments. This person is most readily identifiable by the repeating or reemergence of previous styles or techniques. Both of these creative types are prolific in the breadth and high quality of their work.

Lastly, the artist or creative type who operates in confusion is often viewed as a scatterbrain or copycat who either imitates techniques or styles which he likes or imitates because it's what he thinks others like. This individual tends to have a great deal of formal training and shows promising talent, but because they lack direction of purpose they don't produce work that is uniquely theirs. It's like a songwriter, musician, or composer who doesn't have a signature sound, but instead their work sounds like the work of many others in an undifferentiated mass of other artists and composers. They move from one style or technique to another and anyone watching them would see no rhyme or reason to the shifts they make. They neither progress steadily uniting every effort into an alignment of purpose - like the linear type - nor do they produce high quality work using a selected range of styles or techniques that they love or that inspire them to push artistic boundaries. This "creative" type is most readily identifiable with rapid but purposeless change for no reason at all except for maintaining a kind of artistic status quo.

The Living Album as a Complement to the Nature of Creativity

Now let me address one final consideration in regard to the living album and that is how a common theme runs throughout a portion or period of an artist's body of work. Remember earlier I mentioned how the old idea of an album is that it is a fixed arrangement of songs in time, but the nature of creating art is such that time cannot constrain creativity. In other words, creativity is unbounded by time, which makes the living album is a very useful tool for the artist and musician. The reason this is important is because the living album can adapt to the artist's intention toward their work unbounded by time, unlike the way record companies were able to operate before. Because an artist can operate using one or a mixture of 3 approaches, which I mentioned earlier, it requires a dynamic medium to carry the work of an artist in flux. The medium must be dynamic because the artist is. The medium must be able to keep up with the change the artist is going through in real time. The medium must also be easy to delete, easily altered, and expandable.

The publishing and distribution freedoms the artist and musician can now exercise with a living album are far superior to what was previously known. For example, if as a composer you've published an album or CD 5 years ago, but you find yourself writing pieces today that are related to or you feel should be added to the earlier body of work, you now have several options as to what you can do about this situation. You can alter, delete, or expand any part or the album as a whole according to your need as a creator. Going a step further, you can also reissue and re-master the old CD and even make bonus material available for FREE as a digital download, including other bonuses like FREE merchandise or concert tickets to an upcoming tour date.

My favorite features of the living album, like a blog, are the ability to rapidly update information and to link to one's own related works. The reason why I like this feature is because it gives the fan the ability to deepen his bond to the artist, allows the artist to open up to his fans, and provides new members with a way to quickly become familiar with the artist he's just discovered.

A living album satisfies all of these requirements and much more because the essence of the Internet and information technology is to facilitate "rapid change, communication, and connectedness." Because of this the most significant contrast a living album has to a traditional album is that it can include additional components with which to connect with an artist and the artist to connect with their audience via blogs, streaming video, social media, on-line articles, and an on-line communities grown around an artist. Now the artist is the brand - front and center - while the music and anything else associated with the artist is part and parcel of an entire product line, which benefits the artist and their love of composing, recording, and performing music. The traditional album and the music companies made these things virtually impossible to create or next to non-existent except in rare cases of superstardom. However, today the Internet and the living album make this available to every artist, musician, composer, and creative type.


In the information age, your vision for your work is king and you are now in full control over the form your vision takes as well as the function it serves. Your creative need is the function and the form is the living album, but looking closer at each of these elements you'll see that your creative need, the living album, and your vision are all mirror images of each other and that all these things are clones of you and the creative spark within.

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