2008: It May Be The Last Gasp For The Big Pop Album

noah | September 9, 2008 2:00 am

The latest major artist to somewhat hastily announce a new release for the fourth quarter of ’08: Beyonce, who has a new album coming out in November that will feature collaborations with both Justin Timberlake and “A Milli” “Lollipop” producer Jim Jonsin. It really seems like a lot of albums have recently been put on the docket for later this year, doesn’t it? Between this announcement, the rumors of a new Kanye full-length, and forthcoming releases by the likes of Nickelback, Jay-Z, Fall Out Boy, and Kelly Clarkson–not to mention the increased noise surrounding the eternally delayed Detox and Chinese Democracy–I’m starting to wonder if we’re going to see a last-days frenzy of sorts from the major labels. (For real, this time.)

Looking at headlines from the past few weeks, both music-business-related and not, only adds to the feeling of uneasiness. The biggest brick-and-mortar retailer, Wal-Mart, is planning to whittle down its music-related floor space–and lesser music retailers like Borders are following suit; the economy’s seemingly growing more sour; and the idea of MySpace Music sweeping in and saving the music world is looking less and less likely. Not to mention that in an increasingly crowded cultural space, it’s harder than ever to break a new act–and even if something does hit a consciousness beyond niche appeal, album sales aren’t a given, as Katy Perry’s soft album sales and Atlantic’s experimenting with Estelle have shown.

So big-name artists like the ones who are releasing all these albums are in a way safer for the bottom line, although one could argue that the number of times I’ve had to use the word “disappointing” when it comes to record sales lately might be an indicator that especially now, there’s no such thing as a sure thing. And if any significant number of these albums should tank, the prospect of tumbleweeds rolling around the majors’ release schedules in the earliest months of 2009 is even more real.

New Beyonce Album Arriving In November [Billboard]