Why do several songs over 5 minutes may not fit on a vinyl if it runs for 30 minutes?

I have a double album that runs for nearly an hour. I also have a Bing Crosby single album that has 10 songs on 1 side, and another 10 on side 2.

3 Answers

  • 1 month ago

    “Several songs over 5 minutes” will always fit on a record if it runs for thirty minutes - a record can run for forty minutes.

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    The CD is designed from scratch to be able to fit Beethoven's 9th symphony on a single side. The LP was not designed to do that from the beginning. In fact, ancient vinyls were designed to play at 78 rpm. The single was played at 45 rpm. The LP (long playing record) gets its name when engineers designed it so it will play at 33 1/3 rpm. Even at this speed, Beethoven's 9th symphony will not fit on one side. 

    Pop and rock artists took advantage of the fact that the LP has 2 sides by necessity, by designating a good song as the first one on side 2. The 2 different sides may also be thematically different. One side may be more commercially oriented and the other side more artistically oriented. Therefore, instead of fitting as much music on one side as physically possible, and putting the remainder on side 2, they would spread the album out more evenly onto both sides. Further, for marketing reasons, some record companies or artists may not put as many songs on one LP as physically possible so they can release those songs as singles or on the next LP. Besides some artists may have a hard time composing enough songs to fit on an LP and an LP sometimes takes years to materialize. That was why the EP format was invented to shorten the process. The EP is the same size as an LP but it has a much larger label in the center and as few as 3 songs may be put on one side. So, even if more songs may fit on an LP, we often find that there are blank areas near the inside edge instead. Consumers may notice the blank areas and may think that they have been cheated. So, manufacturers can widen the space between songs or even widen the spaces between grooves within a single song to make the vinyl look like it is packed full of music.

  • Vinyl is an analog medium.  Sound is stored in the sideways motion and depth of the groove.  A standard 12 inch album has a playing time of 20 minutes per side.  You can get a longer playing time by making the grooves closer together, but you then have to record more quietly to avoid the grooves overlapping.

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