Broadway Blip: Cast Albums are NOT Soundtracks
It has been a battle going on for years: making sure that musical theatre fans know the difference between a “cast album” and a “soundtrack”. One might think this is an easy thing to sort out, but those who have devoted their lives to listening to theatre music know that “soundtrack” is used interchangeably with “cast album” to designate Broadway and Off-Broadway) musicals that have been preserved on vinyl (and CD and for download). Retailers haven’t exactly helped the situation, often bundling both soundtracks and cast albums into the same sections and bins in stores. The difference is: if it is a stage production being preserved, it is a cast album. If it is music for a film (including a musical film) then it is a soundtrack. Never the twain shall meet. For example: if you are listening to the album of The Greatest Showman or La La Land, you are listening to a soundtrack. If you are listening to Come From Away or Dear Evan Hansen, you are listening to a cast album. It really is as simple as that. Now, if Dear Evan Hansen is made into a movie (we are all pretty sure it will), the recording of the film will be a soundtrack. In the reverse, when Moulin Rouge comes to Broadway and that production is most likely recorded, it will be a cast album. If you are interested in musicals, the distinction is an important one. Misuse either for the other, and the guardians of all-things-sacred in the musical theatre will most likely show a united front against your cavalier approach to this age-old issue.
Fun Fact: Les Misérables is the best-selling cast recording of all time. Released in May of 1987, the album is a 4x certified platinum-selling album.