Sunday, 9 June 2013

The concept album - selection of songs

Some people asked me "Why did you not put all the songs on the concept album, and how did you choose which ones to put on?"

Fair question.

My advice to anybody thinking about doing a concept album is to aim for recording all the songs from the musical for the concept album, and if I had to do it again, I will most likely do exactly that.

So, why did I not record all the songs for The exile concept album?

The most important reason to keep in mind is the cost. It cost money to record a song. There are a total of 27 songs in The exile. I included only 16 songs on the concept album. To do all 27 songs would have more than doubled the cost.

The next thing that I had to consider is that you can fit a maximum of 70 minutes of music on a CD. More realistically, it is wise to plan around 60 minutes of music. A whole musical usually takes about 90 to 120 minutes of music. To do them all would require a double CD. Once again, that about doubles the cost of printing the CDs.

Once I have decided to do only a partial recording, the next decision I had to make was - which songs to include or exclude from the concept album.

I listed all the songs, and then first decided which songs MUST be included. i had to choose which songs are the best songs. This is very subjective to choose the best songs. Everybody has their own favourites.

Next, I decided which songs I should leave out. This decision was based purely on cost. (After all, if a song had to be left out because I thought it was not good enough, I better had to rewrite the song to improve it!). The cost factor was related to the number of singers on a song. Each vocalist charged a session fee for a song. Does not matter if that vocalist do only a single line on the whole song, and some songs needed lots of singers, each doing only a single verse or single line. Those were the songs I left out. Those "company numbers", where a whole chorus of singers do a sing-along can get very expensive. Unfortunately, as musicals go, these company numbers are sometimes also the most important ones.

I know there would have been better ways to do this. Next time (if there is a next time) I can probably get more songs out of a singer withinin a single session with a bit of better planning.

Finally, I tried to select songs which, when listening through the album, would tell at least a complete story. I did not wanted to leave out any songs which would cause the story as a whole to be confusing.


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