There has been recent chatter of an inevitable demise of the album with the rise in popularity of streaming. Some foresee that things will revert back to the 1950s when the single was the main release and studio albums were simply greatest hits or various artist compilations or, as was the case with The Beatles in the early days of the band, a collection of additional songs.
Talk like this is not new, as the same points were put forth when iTunes went live allowing the public to download individual tracks from albums.
While it is a fact that the purchase of physical and digital albums as a whole has been in decline for some time now, there is no indication that the number of studio LPs being released is on the decrease. The Canadian Music Blog has been tracking albums for several years now. In 2014, the number of professional Canadian artist studio albums that came to our attention was 620. That number dropped in 2015 to 591 and again in 2016 to 510. However, it rose again to 623 in 2017. With still a few weeks left to go in 2018, the number is currently 540. So, the numbers are up and down from year to year but remain within the 500 to over 600 range.
In countries (not mentioning any names) with 99% piracy, where streaming and free downloads have been going on for many years, studio albums continue being made at a feverish pace.
Speaking from the perspective of music consumers, we have observed that, while creating and listening to various artist playlists of favourite tracks has its rewards, sometimes we miss and feel a yearning for listening through a studio album, especially one that is solid from start to finish. When all songs on the disc are good, it serves to take us on an enjoyable ride that has its own special appeal. We can all think of albums that do the trick, and listening to them on a good stereo system with a high bit rate (i.e. CD quality) is a very gratifying experience. We can all think of that one album that changed our lives. Usually we heard it in our youth. It knocked our socks off and remains an entertainment highlight that we never forget. We would venture a guess that with that kind of valuable phenomenon affecting the masses, it is unlikely that the album will cease to exist in the future.