Ken Davenport made a post on his blog about bringing back the concept of the concept album.
Thanks Ken. He gives Andrew Lloyd Webber as examples of using this concept. i am sure there must be many more. If you know of others, please mention it in the comments below.
I was not even aware that he concept of a concept album needed any bringing back! My ignorance aside, this is a brilliant idea and one of the most basic tools to the disposal of the writer / composer of musicals.
I have gone the concept album route for The exile. I have not done it with the hope of making lots of money from it, but rather as part of the development process. To add to Ken's post, let me list the reasons why you may want to do a concept album.
- Firstly and most importantly, it serves as a basic tool to help you sell your musical to an interested producer. Without the concept album recording, the best you can do to sell your musical is to lie, beg or plea to producers to believe in a script, with empty promises that the music will be brilliant. Maybe you can bring your own piano and sing some of the songs. Unless you are Bon Jovi, you are more likely to bore or scare the producer. People are much more likely to take you serious if you have a professionally recorded CD. You may even leave a CD with interested people, and yes, it will give your ego a huge boost if somebody phone or contact you afterwards to tell you which song is his or her favourite! Which brings us to the next point.
- It gives you a chance to get feedback from people. Very valuable feedback. This is free feedback you can use to invest back into your show. I have received lots of feedback from people on my concept album. Most people told they just loved "that blues song". I had some requests from people interested in licencing and recording "that love song". Others told me how that song about democracy had them in stitches. Knowing what the crowd favourite is, gives you a heads up on what you can use to sell your show to the next producer you talk to.
- The concept album is just that, i.e. a concept album. It is a development tool. It gives you a chance to try things out and change these things. I had some people making suggestions on how to improve the show. The most common idea is to add another big company sing-a-long somewhere in the middle. My show opens with a company number and close with a reprise of something on the same theme. People would love to have a break in the story somewhere in the middle as well, similar to Les Mis did with Master of the house. During the recording process I could pick up when a song just does not work. This gives me the chance to re-write that song.
- It serves as a milestone. It gives you something to hold and treasure. It gives the feeling that you have achieved something major. Your show have moved on from just paper to something concrete.
Recording a concept album is not cheap. It is much cheaper than in the 70's when ALW did Superstar, but it still requires some investment. In the next few months I will touch on the behind-the-scene process of producing a concept album. So, untill then. Leave some comments below about what you want me to talk about, and tell me which song did you enjoy the most from my concept album recording. You just might be able to say some day that you gave some significant input into the next hit on Broadway;)