why are most new releases going to four sides?

I know a number of new albums are being cut with cd in mind (50+ minutes) and with the longer length are being put on four sides of vinyl

personally some of these could easily squeeze onto 2 sides and it would be nice to hear 20+ minutes at a time instead of 2 songs per side

perhaps the expanded grooves have more fidelity, and certainly there is less inner groove distortion, but wouldn't it be nice to hear a whole side in one sitting?
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That's why they invented polycarbonate. Get up and flip you records, I say. There is nothing wrong with 2 songs per side. They should even go the full monty and make them 45rpm and 200g. There I said it.
The LP market for current releases relies on audiophile purchases so sound quality is important. In order to squeeze more minutes onto a side, the grooves have to run closer to the label where sound quality suffers. Also, the grooves might have to be spaced closer together, which means recording level must be lower, which, in turn, means noise becomes a bigger issue. So, less sonic compromises are made with shorter record sides.
I agree with Larryi, getting up ever so often to swap LP sides is no big deal for me, I need the exercise anyway.

However, sound quality is extremely important to me, so much so that when a title is available in 45 RPM format I purchase it instead of the LP. 45 RPM format is even shorter play time but with some of the old jazz greats it's well worth it to achieve the extra dynamics and space of those old recordings (like "Cool struttin' by Sonny Clark !!)

Anyway, there's always CD if you really want convenient, you can hear the whole album without getting up. That's part of what makes it popular.
Buy the vinyl and get into recording your tittles to CD, then you have a great vinyl and also a better sounding digital copy for when you dont want all the fuss. You will have the best of both worlds.
personally I'd rather hear a whole side in one sitting

the mood of the piece as a whole

I like vinyl - I just think some of the recent releases are overplaying the too little on a side mantra

it's hard to hear the cohesiveness of the new Lucinda Williams record when it's spread out over 4 sides

I recall pop artists like early Genesis and Todd Rundgren who loved cramming as much on a side as possible.
So vat vood be so terrrrible to put it on da tree sides for tventee minut apiece, end to leeve wun side blenk??
While the switch to 45 RPM does bring with it some sonic improvements, I can't help but think that some of the switch is motivated by the record companies to gouge the consumer for more money. The move to heavier and thicker vinyl certainly is; it really adds nothing to the quality of these pressings and Classic's 200 gram vinyl appears to be turning into a quality control nightmare. Prices are getting outrageous-$50 here in Canada for the Clapton/Cale album (which I wouldn't buy because I'm not big on the music anyway) and $70 for the 45 RPM re-issues. If Dylan's Modern Times can be sold as a double for $25 in Canada, why is the Clapton/Cale $50? Because its 45 RPM? Give me a break. When you start talking $50-$70 for records, particularly if they're re-issues of older material, it starts to make sense to seek out originals or pre-digital re-issues which can sound great and be very cost effective. Not always easy, but at these prices it might be worth the effort particularly if you can buy 3 originals to get one good one and still end up paying the same price that you would to get the reissue.

Audiophiles seem to like to spend money though, and they seem to like gimmicks. While the 45 thing is not a total gimmick, the heavy vinyl thing definitely is.
Nsgarch - I like your 3 side ideas. Then we could have one blank side to test antiskating on!
Super Furry Animals 'Phantom Power' was cut on three sides. Personally, sound quality is the main reason why I buy vinyl and not CD. Having invested heavily on my front end (Platine Verdier/Schroeder 2/Allaerts MC1B), ,it would be pointless if the software was useless. I like 4 sides to an album. You get twice the number of records, twice the artwork, what's the problem? For mainstream releases, they also cost the same as single LP albums eg Razorlight.
Bottom line is that 45 rpm has better frequency response, but to fit all the music onto 2 sides requires a compromise in dynamic range and low bass. It should be noted that the blank side has better contact with the platter to drain away resonances. I do not agree that heavy vinyl is a waste. In general, heavy vinyl dampens resonances better and is less susceptible to warping. An extreme case of heavy vinyl is a Mobile Fidelity UHQR. Compare that to the standard Mo Fi issue and you will quickly see what heavy vinyl is good for. Yes, 4 sides is a trade off and these albums are probably best suited for demo purposes. Finally, "why are most new releases going to four sides?" Most are not, only some.
selling a record to same consumer twice is the main function of the 45rpm discs. so much for a 'long player'. the pops, clicks, and other assorted defects are much clearer.
so much for a 'long player'. the pops, clicks, and other assorted defects are much clearer.

Jaybo, maybe it's your Thorens turntable that needs upgrading?

I don't have those problems other than a RARE once or twice an evening "click" at some point in the program material. An evening here is a 4.5 hour session.

I have a dozen members in my group, some are Audiogon members. Perhaps it's time to ask them to chime in on this topic as I grow tired of comments at assumptions that ALL LP REPRODUCTION is a noisy experience.

Sorry yours does not work, but please don't make sweeping statements that assumes all of us have this problem
Back in the dark ages when vinyl was all I had there was an issue of "sides" that was a real nuisance. An opera or a classical symphony, will not fit on one side and sometimes it was put on several discs. Rather than flip the record you had to remove and put away one and get out and play another. This was done so as to accomodate record changers. Not all symphonies were done this way, and at one point there was a record player that actually flipped the record automatically.
Psychologically it's probably easier for a buyer to drop $40 for 2 records as opposed to 1. The companies selling the remasters know this.

I'd wager that if you compared 50 original pressings to their 45RPM remastered counterparts, more than 80% of the originals would be preferred. I have 3 dozen reissues and some of them are very good but based on the dollars spent, I'm sorry I invested in them.

It's still about sales dollars and profits not quality.
as for 2 or 4 sides

I wasn't talking 45 rpm records for higher quality playback - that part is obvious

I'm talking lps that are stretched to 4 sides
like the clash album - give em enough vinyl - oops it was titled sandinista

yes, record companies have an easier time charging you $40 for 4 sides of vinyl
the thorens is fine...just a sarcastic comment about the state of the vinyl industry. the 45 rpm 'second bie' approach from the labels is just a way to get 'found money' on each release.