Albums get held back all time time, Foo Fighter’s One by One had to be completely rerecorded after the band almost split up during it’s initial recording. It only got back on track after Taylor and Dave had a heart to heart and decided to start over after a Coachella performance.
Asking “why does an album get held back?” is a lot like asking “why is my car making a squeaking noise?”. There are a tonne of different possibilities, but these are the more common ones.
1. The Label
When a band is fulfilling their contract with a label, there is often an agreed timeline on when the records will be released. Sometimes with penalties for failing to deliver a record on time. Since they’re the one’s distributing it, the label usually gets final say on exactly when the release date will be but with the advent of streaming and digital downloads? That part is starting to change. A label can also be unhappy with whatever album the band has brought out and ask them to do it all again, but that really puts your relationship with a band on tenuous ground.
2. The Band
If a band isn’t happy with whatever they’ve made, they can refuse to deliver a record or renegotiate a release date. If they’re in a fight with their label, they can also just straight up refuse to work until their contracts are all worked out. Internal fighting, substance abuse, and romantic disagreements have all pushed back albums before.
Copyright law is complicated by itself, but music copyright law is like trying to follow a rope through a cave built from other ropes. When you have individual songs, album art, liner notes, even specific riffs to register? The process can be looooooong.
The final mixdown of an album can take months to get to. You can have the best song in the world, but you still need a producer to take that sound a form it into a singular song. It’s a lot like editing a film, you can have the shots but you still need to put them together into something cohesive.
Josh Homme’s Home Studio
Those are just a few of the myriad of reasons that an album can be held back. It sucks when it happens, but hopefully the delay can lead to a better record like it did with One by One.