The record industry ’60s and early ’70s worked much differently than it does today. Bands were judged more for the albums they produced than their singles. Record deals were developmentally focused – there was an expectation that the first album might not be a success, but signing a band was a long term investment. Bands were going into professional studios for the first time and record companies were operating with the understanding that bands had to learn how the studio worked and it might take some time for them to find their ‘sound’. Payoff on investment wasn’t instant.
For example, Rush (a band that I will likely reference ad-nauseam in this blog) signed a four-record deal. Their first three albums were massive flops. By the fourth, however, the band was more confident in who they were and what they were doing. The result was 2112, which is widely considered one of the finest examples of 70s progressive rock. In today’s single-based marketplace the band would have never gotten the chance to make 2112, and even if they had there wasn’t much in the way of marketable tracks on the album.