The sequencing of tracks on an album may have long been subject to artists’ creative muses, but, according to A&R and streaming services decision-makers, the order in which songs appear on a set can have far-reaching effects on an acts’, and labels’, bottom lines, especially in an era of digital music consumption.
Throughout the rock era, an album’s track order has often been based on what has caught an artist’s fancy, shaped by such elements as feel and flow. “I never like to put two happy songs in a row or two of the same kind of sadness in a row,” Taylor Swift explained in the Oct. 27 Billboard cover story about how she decided the order of cuts on her recent Billboard 200 chart-topper “Red.” “It’s just about establishing [a sequence that] sounds like that’s the order of things. It’s a gut-feeling thing.”
In other cases, it’s even simpler; Billy Joel reportedly set the sequence for his 1993 Billboard 200 No. 1 “River of Dreams” based on the order in which he wrote each song (with “Famous Last Words” serving as a logical closer for the album). Read more here.