There have been many eras in music history that have been important for making a big splash in the musical world. Whether you are looking at a larger picture of the Modern Era in music or something smaller, like a few years that revolutionized the way music was made, there have been some really powerful moments in modern history that have shaped the way music has happened. Indeed, these moments have continued to morph and shape our common music history, as they have impacted not only what was possible to create, but also what we as a culture listened to at this time. The big advancements in technology that have occurred primarily in the last one hundred years or so has set us forward on powerful paths in terms of our musical consumption as well as in our general society. The invention of the microphone, for example, seems somewhat unrelated to the music industry, however this invention changed the way that albums were recorded, making it possible to get the full range of an instrument or a vocalist in a recording. It is little steps like this one that have added up over the years to create modern music as we know it.
One of the biggest steps forward was in the creation of record albums as boxed sets, a practice that was improved upon with the advent of vinyl records. While 78’s were the only medium available, artists made do with what they had on their hands. With the shellac records, recording time on each side of the discs was limited to a couple of minutes, so symphonies and shorter popular music tracks were recorded in short succession. They were then often packaged separately though with labels that indicated they did, in fact, go together. In this medium, the German record company Odeon claims credit for creating the concept of the “album” when they released Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite on four discs in a packaging designed to keep them all together and sell then as a unit. By around 1910, this practice had advanced and collections were bound together in paperboard or leather that was reminiscent of a photo album. Hence, the sets of records were called “record albums.” This was a huge concept for artists at this time. By creating sets of music that truly went together, they were onto something new; now there could be themes that stretched across albums and they would be understand by the listener. The moment that really brought about the “Album Era” in English-speaking popular music was the moment when an entire album could be recorded on a single disc. With the rise of vinyl records, record albums grew into became simply vinyl albums and sets could be condensed. This was particularly powerful for the aforementioned concept albums; imagine is Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon was on many discs instead of one? These were changes that really heralded in a new time for popular music artists and gave listeners the opportunity to hear the music they loved in a format much easier to consume.