Photo Credit: Joseph Baura

The impact of album sequence on the overall listening has not changed, despite the fact that the way people listen to music, especially with the advent of streaming services and on-demand, has been dramatically altered.

Album sequencing is the order of the tracks on a musical album. Album sequencing creates a narrative for the listener. guiding them through a journey from beginning to end. The order of the tracks can affect the listener’s experience and impact the overall impression of the album

Great album sequencing can enhance the themes and emotions conveyed in the music, creating transitions that smoothly move the listener from one song to the next and taking the listener on a journey, building a sense of anticipation, excitement, or even catharsis over the course of the tracklisting.

The order of tracks is often carefully considered by artists, producers and executives of record labels to create a coherent and meaningful album. The intended track order may even be changed after the album has been recorded and finalized in response to feedback from collaborators, A&R team members, and test audiences, or to achieve a newly desired flow.

The impact of streaming music on album sequencing

The way people listen to music has changed, and so has the way artists view album sequencing. In the old days, people used to listen to albums on vinyl or CDs, and they did so from the beginning to the end. This was how the album was meant to be enjoyed. With the advent of streaming music, listeners now have greater control over which tracks they want to hear. They can skip around, repeat songs, or shuffle the tracks, disrupting the album’s intended flow and narrative.

Some artists are responding to this change by thinking more creatively when it comes to the order of their albums. They know that the traditional listening model from beginning to end may not apply anymore. 

For example, some artists think about their albums as collections of individual songs that can stand on their own — and appeal to a wide variety of editorial playlists — rather than a continuous narrative. Others experiment with including interludes, skits, or other non-musical elements to break up the album into distinct sections — not a “new” practice, by any means — and create a new flow for the listener. 

It is important to remember that album sequencing has not changed. It can greatly impact the listener’s experience and perception of the music and help to differentiate an artist’s work and make it more memorable and impactful.

Starting on the right note

The first song on an album can have a significant impact on the total amount of consumption. It can act as a hook for listeners, encouraging them to continue listening. Or, conversely, it can make them lose interest in the album and stop listening.

The first track of an album is often considered to be the most crucial in setting the mood for the rest of it and the aesthetic and overall feel of the music. For this reason many artists put a lot of thought and care The first track should be chosen carefully to represent the vision of the entire album.

It is important to choose the first track carefully, as it will set the tone and mood for the album.

Sequencing mistakes to avoid

Artists should avoid these mistakes when sequencing an album to ensure that the experience is cohesive and engaging for the listener.

  1. Lack of flow: One of the biggest mistakes is having tracks that don’t flow well together. The album should follow a logical flow, moving from song to song in a manner that is logical and enhances your overall experience.
  2. Overusing interludesWhen used in the wrong way or too much, interludes can distract. Interludes are meant to serve a purpose, not just take up space and disrupt the flow.
  3. The weakest note to end on: The last track of an album often leaves the strongest impression on the listener — assuming they make it that far — so it’s crucial to choose a strong closer. A weak closing track can ruin the experience of the album and leave listeners feeling unsatisfied.
  4. Ignoring dynamicsAlbums should be a mix of slow and fast, loud and soft tracks. If you play the same song too often, it can become boring and monotonous for the listener.
  5. Ignoring PacingThe pace of the album as a whole is also very important. A series of slow songs can drain you, and a lot of fast songs can overwhelm you. An album that is well-sequenced will have a natural flow.
  6. Neglecting the album in its entiretyAlbums should be seen as a cohesive whole, not just as a collection. The order of the tracks should reflect that, creating an experience for the listener that is cohesive and meaningful.

By avoiding these mistakes, artists can create a well-sequenced album that engages the listener from start to finish and leaves a lasting impression — even in the streaming era.

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