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Sometimes the hardest part of achieving interest in our music is simply being noticed amongst the deafening din … OK, always the hardest part. The missing ingredient is desire. For all but the most fortunate of us our audience requires stimulation to remain interested and have a yearning for our new music. So stop and think about it … does releasing one full-length CD a year maintain audience interest? Does such a schedule keep your music “in their face and in their newsfeed”? Can twelve songs a year actually build a career?
The answer is that in the old music ecosystem, a CD year often did the trick, aided by tightly-controlled radio play and the efforts of publicists/managers/labels to feed the system information and monies to keep the process working. Today’s environs move quite differently.
Labels/managers/agents/publicists all still play a role, but those roles are highly dependent on social networking, word of mouth, virality and non-traditional media. Numerous pundits espouse sharing our private lives with fans, offering them interactivity and access while exposing our personality and the person behind it.
That’s all fine and dandy, but there’s a better way to maintain your audience’s interest … by releasing lots of good music, in a constant and steady flow! It’s only natural, it’s legit. Doing so might even save you considerable money while increasing your profile.
Consider that the standard is a full-length release every year, or twelve songs per annum … or in my proposition, one song per month. We could simply delay our releases, publishing one song each calendar month and fully aggregating each song to sales sites as well as streaming [services]. Or we could offer free downloads, for one month only and then it’s off to aggregation. We might group songs into (themed) EPs each quarter and then release seasonal EPs, too.
But don’t stop there … are you in need of a creative adventure, a guaranteed kick in the artistic ass? Actually write a new song each month, or collaborate with a different guest artist each song, or place a cathartic limitation on the process to force creativity (maybe use a 4-track, or radically change genres, or record in the band van, or …)
I was fortunate to collaborate on such a project as producer/engineer/mixer/re-mixer and let me tell you it was a wild journey of a year! The singer/songwriter had a few songs up his sleeve, so the first few months found us polishing arrangements, finding a creative schedule and completing songs that already had some definition in the songwriter’s head.
Soon such “pre-fabs” ran out and new songs were created without knowing the destination … arrangements got changed midway through, re-mix ideas became mix ideas, lyrics/vocals got added last and unexpectedly pivotal overdubs took over songs and moved us into uncharted waters. And what a blast it was! The creative challenges kept us all alert, focused on the teamwork and in top form.
This band that was so courageous was pretty new and didn’t have a large following, but their fans grew accustomed to the schedule and seemed to appreciate the unexpectedness and variety of each song (it was like each song got props as being a “single”). I can only imagine what an extremely popular band might do with this concept! With dedicated fan interest even more vistas are opened up … rehearsal recordings, live recordings, song demos … there’s lots of scrap-audio that actually has value to the diehard fan.
A song per month certainly aims you at fully utilizing modern digital distribution and may wean you off of printing physical product at all. Such a move can save you lots of duplicating, printing, artwork and photography costs, but may come at a price if you’ve got fans that still savor old-school product. If the monthly process works it may just warrant a year-end pressing … take your time; you’ve got a year to think about it.
However you split the details doesn’t matter so much, just make sure you’ve got a release schedule in mind that is based on modern realities, feeds the need for frequent contact and reminds potential fans that you’re more than a selfie-taker, a food-poster, or a media hog … you’re a bonafide, consistently creative, recording musician and you’ve got new music to be heard!
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