Difference Between Album and Record (With Table)

‘Album’ and ‘Record’ are two words that are used interchangeably in colloquial speak. Especially for those not familiar with music, the difference between these terms might not be clear. However, there is a big difference between them in the field of music.

Album vs Record

The main difference between album and record is that an album refers to a collection of songs put together and sold. The word ‘record’ has multiple meanings. The noun record refers to a single song, but examining it in detail. The verb record refers to the act of registering something in writing or otherwise.

An album is an assemblage of songs that is released under an artist’s name as a set. Some songs could have videos, but majority of them will be audio recordings only. There are many forms in which these are available; vinyl records, cassettes, discs, MP3 albums etc.

The word ‘record’ has a lot of meanings as a verb and a noun. As a noun, it means two things: an account of the past in writing, documentation etc, and a single song that was recorded. As a verb, it means the action of keeping some sort of evidence in videos, audios etc.

Comparison Table Between Album and Record

Parameters of ComparisonAlbumRecord
Origin of phraseTaken from a Latin phrase meaning ‘neuter of albus’.Taken from a French word meaning ‘remembrance’.
Similar meaning wordsNotebook, Index, Anthology, Register, PortfolioInformation, Track Record, Documentation, Proof, Reputation
Part of SpeechUsed as a nounUsed as a verb or noun, depending on the context
Essential DifferenceRefers to a collection of songsRefers to one song  
Grammy award categoryAlbum of the YearRecord of the Year

What is Album?

An album is a collection of songs that the artist chooses to release together. The word itself has Latin-German origins. The Latin phrase ‘album amicorum’ referred to a blank book (souvenir book) in which anything could be documented. From this phrase, the word ‘album’ was taken into the English language. In today’s world, the word album refers mostly to an artist’s creation. Most artists choose one or two songs they especially like from the album and promote it the most. It usually has a music video and is called the title song of the album. Album sales are a common topic in the music industry.

Album sales are a matter of greater prestige because it means all the songs, or at least a majority of them were appealing to the audience. It signifies that the artist can engage people for a lot of time, maybe even an hour. In the Grammys, the award category of ‘Album of the Year’ is highly sought after. If the Grammys themselves certify that the album is a good one, it adds greatly to the reputation of an artist.

What is Record?

The word record has multiple meanings. It has French Latin roots. French adopted the phrase ‘bring to remembrance’ from the Latin word recordari, meaning remember. As a noun, it previously meant writing down evidence for the law. As a verb, it originally meant to narrate orally or in writing. In modern times, it has slightly different meanings as a noun and a verb.

As a noun, it means a physical record of something that matters to the person who records it. It could count as evidence. Another meaning, related to the music industry, refers to a single song. A record goes into a little more detail as a song, noting the production and other elements of it. As a verb, it means the act of creating this evidence. It could mean audio recording, video recording, or writing as a form of maintaining a record. In colloquial speaking, ‘I am recording’ means audio or video documentation.

In the Grammys, the category of ‘Record of the Year’ is a prestigious honour. The award goes to the artist, recording engineers, producers and mixers. It recognises a song’s performance and production, giving importance to different aspects of a song than the ‘Song of the Year’ category.

Main Differences Between Album and Record

  1. Album refers to a collection of songs that the artist presents as a set, whereas record refers to a single song.
  2. The word ‘album’ has Latin German origins, and the word ‘record’ has Latin French origins.
  3. Album can only be considered a noun. The word record, however, has multiple meanings, and can be used a verb or noun depending on the context.
  4. Album sales have a lot of value in the music industry and can raise the artist’s value. Record sales are also a great thing, but it gets the artist more popularity rather than value.
  5. The Grammy category for album is ‘Album of the Year’. For record, the corresponding Grammy category is ‘Record of the Year’.
  6. The old usage of record could mean any number of songs. It basically referred to anything pressed into a vinyl disc. The word album, however, always meant an assemblage of songs.

Conclusion

The words album and record have very similar contexts in the musical industry. The confusion regarding their meaning arises from the old usage of the word record. It meant anything that was pressed into a vinyl disc, with no difference between a single song or a collection of songs. Nowadays, however, the word ‘record’ with reference to the music industry conjures up an image of an artist in their studio, making the song. It also refers to a single song. Using the word record instead of song means the person is looking for other details, not just the surface of it. Both of these words have high value at the Grammy awards, which is considered the highest honour in the music industry.

References

  1. https://direct.mit.edu/dram/article-abstract/64/3%20(247)/132/96177
  2. https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2590