Early record albums were multiple 78rpm discs packaged in book form, like a photograph album

An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), vinyl, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded music were developed in the early 20th century as individual 78-rpm records collected in a bound book resembling a photograph album; this format evolved after 1948 into single vinyl LP records played at ​33 13 rpm. Vinyl LPs are still issued, though album sales in the 21st-century have mostly focused on CD and MP3 formats. The audio cassette was a format widely used alongside vinyl from the 1970s into the first decade of the 2000s.

An album may be recorded in a recording studio (fixed or mobile), in a concert venue, at home, in the field, or a mix of places. The time frame for completely recording an album varies between a few hours to several years. This process usually requires several takes with different parts recorded separately, and then brought or "mixed" together. Recordings that are done in one take without overdubbing are termed "live", even when done in a studio. Studios are built to absorb sound, eliminating reverberation, so as to assist in mixing different takes; other locations, such as concert venues and some "live rooms", have reverberation, which creates a "live" sound.[1] Recordings, including live, may contain editing, sound effects, voice adjustments, etc. With modern recording technology, musicians can be recorded in separate rooms or at separate times while listening to the other parts using headphones; with each part recorded as a separate track.

Album covers and liner notes are used, and sometimes additional information is provided, such as analysis of the recording, and lyrics or librettos.[2][3] Historically, the term "album" was applied to a collection of various items housed in a book format. In musical usage the word was used for collections of short pieces of printed music from the early nineteenth century.[4] Later, collections of related 78rpm records were bundled in book-like albums[5] (one side of a 78 rpm record could hold only about 3.5 minutes of sound). When long-playing records were introduced, a collection of pieces on a single record was called an album; the word was extended to other recording media such as compact disc, MiniDisc, Compact audio cassette, and digital albums as they were introduced.[6]


An album (Latin albus, white), in ancient Rome, was a board chalked or painted white, on which decrees, edicts and other public notices were inscribed in black. It was from this that in medieval and modern times album came to denote a book of blank pages in which verses, autographs, sketches, photographs and the like are collected.[7] Which in turn led to the modern meaning of an album as a collection of audio recordings issued as a single item.

In the early nineteenth century "album" was occasionally used in the titles of some classical music sets, such as Schumann's Album for the Young Opus 68, a set of 43 short pieces.[4]

When 78rpm records came out, the popular 10-inch disc could only hold about three minutes of sound per side, so almost all popular recordings were limited to around three minutes in length.[8] Classical-music and spoken-word items generally were released on the longer 12-inch 78s, about 4–5 minutes per side. For example, in 1924, George Gershwin recorded a drastically shortened version of the seventeen-minute Rhapsody in Blue with Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra. It was released on two sides of Victor 55225 and ran for 8m 59s.[9] Deutsche Grammophon had produced an album for its complete recording of the opera Carmen in 1908. German record company Odeon released the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky in 1909 on 4 double-sided discs in a specially designed package.[10] This practice of issuing albums does not seem to have been widely taken up by other record companies for many years; however, HMV provided an album, with a pictorial cover, for the 1917 recording of The Mikado (Gilbert & Sullivan).

By about 1910, bound collections of empty sleeves with a paperboard or leather cover, similar to a photograph album, were sold as record albums that customers could use to store their records (the term "record album" was printed on some covers). These albums came in both 10-inch and 12-inch sizes. The covers of these bound books were wider and taller than the records inside, allowing the record album to be placed on a shelf upright, like a book, suspending the fragile records above the shelf and protecting them. In the 1930s, record companies began issuing collections of 78 rpm records by one performer or of one type of music in specially assembled albums, typically with artwork on the front cover and liner notes on the back or inside cover. Most albums included three or four records, with two sides each, making six or eight compositions per album.[5]

The 10-inch and 12-inch LP record (long play), or ​33 13 rpm microgroove vinyl record, is a gramophone record format introduced by Columbia Records in 1948.[11] A single LP record often had the same or similar number of tunes as a typical album of 78s, and it was adopted by the record industry as a standard format for the "album".[5] Apart from relatively minor refinements and the important later addition of stereophonic sound capability, it has remained the standard format for vinyl albums.

The term "album" was extended to other recording media such as Compact audio cassette, compact disc, MiniDisc, and digital albums, as they were introduced.[6] As part of a trend of shifting sales in the music industry, some observers feel that the early 21st century experienced the death of the album.[12]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Album (musiek)
العربية: ألبوم
বাংলা: অ্যালবাম
беларуская: Музычны альбом
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Музычны альбом
български: Музикален албум
bosanski: Album
čeština: Hudební album
Cymraeg: Albwm
dansk: Musikalbum
Deutsch: Musikalbum
Ελληνικά: Άλμπουμ
Esperanto: Muzikalbumo
français: Album (musique)
Gaeilge: Albam ceoil
한국어: 음반
hrvatski: Glazbeni album
Ido: Albumo
Bahasa Indonesia: Album
interlingua: Album (musica)
latviešu: Mūzikas albums
Lëtzebuergesch: Museksalbum
Limburgs: Album (meziek)
magyar: Nagylemez
македонски: Музички албум
Bahasa Melayu: Album lagu
Nāhuatl: Yahualtzintli
Nederlands: Album (muziek)
日本語: アルバム
norsk nynorsk: Musikkalbum
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Musiqiy albom
português: Álbum
română: Album (muzică)
sardu: Album
Scots: Album
Simple English: Album
سنڌي: البم
slovenčina: Hudobný album
slovenščina: Glasbeni album
کوردی: ئەلبوم
српски / srpski: Музички албум
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Album
svenska: Musikalbum
Tagalog: Album
тоҷикӣ: Албом
Türkçe: Müzik albümü
українська: Музичний альбом
Tiếng Việt: Album
Võro: Albom
吴语: 音乐专辑
ייִדיש: אלבאם
粵語: 唱碟
中文: 音樂專輯