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33⅓ LP vinyl record album from the 1960s 33⅓ LP vinyl record album from the 1960s

An album is a collection of related audio tracks, released together commercially in an audio format to the public.

The term "record album" originated from the fact that 78 RPM gramophone or phonograph disc records were kept together in a book resembling a photo album. The first collection of records to be called an "album" was Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite", release in April 1909 as a four-disc set by Odeon records[1][2]. It retailed for 16 shillings about 15 in today's money.

In 1948, Columbia produced the first 12", 33 1/3 RPM microgroove record made of vinylite[3]. With a running time of 23 minutes per side, these new records contained as much music as the old-style album of records and, thus, took on the name "album". For many years, the standard industry format for popular music was an album of 12 songs, originally the number related to payment of composer royalties.

Today, with the decreasing popularity of the vinyl record, the term "album" is applied to any sound recording collection, including CD, MiniDisc, and cassette. Even a set of tracks released at the same time for distribution on an online music download site is sometimes referred to as an album.

Due to the large capacity of new media, the matter of how long an album should be is open to debate. According to the rules of the British Charts, a recording counts as an album if either it has at least four tracks or lasts more than 20 minutes. Sometimes shorter albums are referred to as EPs, an abbreviation of extended play, "extended" meaning longer than a single. The term "mini-album" may also be used.

Returning to the older meaning of the term, there are now albums of compact discs: collections of CDs in a single package. If such a collection is packaged in a box, it is known as a box set.

See also

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

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