The term record and album seemed to be used interchangeably, however, was/is there a difference between these two terms? For example, the Grammy Awards have awards for both, yet records and albums existed before the Grammy Awards. Are these merely synonyms or did they have a different meaning in the past?
Album of the Year is the most self-explanatory. It rewards, well, albums. Like Record of the Year, it's a performance and production award that goes to the artist and the album's producer and recording engineer.
So basically Album is looking at all the songs and certain people used in the process.
Record of the Year rewards a song's performance and production. Record of the Year recognizes the artist (in this case, U2), the producers (Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois), and the recording engineers and mixers (Steve Lillywhite and Richard Rainey). Both Song of the Year and Record of the Year reward individual songs, but they recognize different aspects of the songmaking process.
Record is looking at the songs individually and a lot of the details and other people used in making the music.
A reason why records may be synonymous with Albums is that Albums refer to a whole disc or compilation of works, while records use to refer to Vinyl Disc.
The term Albums pretty much always meant the same thing, except nowadays I think they are referring more to Studio Albums.
A studio album is an album of audio recordings made up of tracks recorded in a recording studio. A studio album contains newly written and recorded or previously unreleased or remixed material, distinguishing itself from a compilation or reissue album of previously recorded material, or live recording made at a performance venue.
Way back when, a "record" was just a generic term for a vinyl recording, whether that piece of vinyl be a 7" single, a 12" single, EP or a full album.
From the Oxford Dictionary:
- A thin plastic disc carrying recorded sound in grooves on each surface, for reproduction by a record player: I’m listening to records in my room
4.1 A piece or collection of music reproduced on a record or on another medium: my favourite record
I think of an "album" as being the songs that an artist intended to be released together. The album gets released on various mediums, such as 8-track, cassette, vinyl (a.k.a. record), or CD. A "record" is a specific medium that the album is released on.
A record doesn't have to be an album. A record could be a single.
Merriam-Webster defines "album" as:
a long musical recording on a record, CD, etc., that usually includes a set of songs
one or more recordings (as on tape or disc) produced as a single unit <a 2-CD album>
Merriam-Webster defines "record" as:
something on which sound or visual images have been recorded; specifically : a disc with a spiral groove carrying recorded sound for phonograph reproduction
My understanding is that a 'record' could refer to any recording that was pressed onto a vinyl disc. It could mean a single song, or a collection. The capacity of the discs changed as the technology progressed. The earliest commercially available records could only play about 10 minutes per side - thus making a collection of songs or a long performance (like an opera) required multiple discs which were sold in boxed sets that had leaf-like sleeves - hence the term 'album' - because they resembled the pages a photo album. With the development of the Long-Playing record, the multiple discs sets were less common. Mosts artists could release a collection requiring only a single sleeve (not a traditional 'album') but by then the name stuck. Meanwhile, single songs could still be pressed on to a smaller (78) disc, and could still be referred to as a 'record'.
According to the Recording Academy (which awards the Grammy):
Album of the Year is awarded to the performer, songwriter(s), and the production team of a full album if other than the performer.
Record of the Year is awarded to the performer and the production team of a single song if other than the performer.