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Second National Album Day will tell music fans: “Don’t Skip”

By | Published on Tuesday 2 July 2019

Don't Skip

“Don’t skip” will be the admirable if slightly ambitious message of the second outing for the UK music industry’s National Album Day, which is set to return on 12 Oct.

For artists and songwriters, one of the biggest challenges with the shift to streams is that it’s even easier for fans to permanently skip tracks they don’t like on first listen and – unlike with discs and downloads – you only earn from the tracks people actually play.

For artists, this means that what we used to call ‘filler tracks’ don’t make you any money anymore, so the hits need to work harder to ensure you get your share of the ever-expanding digital pie. And for songwriters – who may have only contributed to track seven, the song rude journalists like me needlessly write off as filler – it means you earn nothing at all.

That is a commercial challenge. But also, potentially, a creative problem. Because, while you – yes you – outrageously and, I should add, totally unnecessarily slammed track seven as a filler track, what if it’s actually a ‘grower track’? Didn’t think of that, did you?

In the olden days, when track skipping was harder (the cassette era being the most anti-skip, I guess), you would have persevered with listening to that filler track, only to discover – on 23rd play – that it’s actually the best track that artist ever made. And the world makes so much more sense when the album is consumed in its complete form.

So, people, “don’t skip”. Because that track you’re skipping might be fucking magnificent if only you give it some time. Maybe it enhances the overall experience. Maybe it ultimately changes your perception of what the album – in its totality – is really about. Maybe it will change your entire life. I mean, it’s probably just shit. But it might not be.

Anyway, while changing the skip-happy music consuming practices of the digital generation may be something of a big task, perhaps the record industry – with the backing of its top pop stars – can persuade a few people to stop bloody skipping for just one day of the year. And that one day is 12 Oct. National Album Day. See, there is a point to it after all!

“Some artists see the album as a collection of short stories, we see the album as a novel”, say Elbow, one of the acts backing National Album Day 2019. “Songs are often included or omitted on account of the balance of the overall record rather than on their individual merits”. By which, they mean, listen to that fucker in full, OK?

Because remember, those fillers might be growers. As Lewis Capaldi, another Album Day backer, says: “[It’s] unreal to have finally released my debut album this year. On the whole I’m very proud of it. Although I won’t lie, there’s probably a few stinkers on there, but I’m only human”. Hmm, yeah, that’s true. Come to think of it, thank fuck for the skip button.