Whenever the labels were going to release a new album, there was a procedure that they followed. It was all about timing and making sure that the proper channels were set up. That way, when the album was released, there would be enough momentum and they were assured a certain amount of press and air time. Things now are different. Now most artists do a lot of their marketing online. There is also the ability to get new material to all of their fans simply through their website and online aggregators. Because of the availability of tons of music at their fingertips, most fans can pick and choose what they want. There is no limited shelf space or even limited air space. As an artist you can pretty much now release whatever you want, whenever you want. Question is (just to be even more confusing), is this something you want to do?
Death of the Album
Before the advent of the internet, the album was it. Ever since the Beatles released albums like ‘Sgt. Peppers’, the album has remained the preferred choice for fans and labels alike. I’m still a fan and its how I usually choose to listen to the music and artists that I enjoy. I usually found that the tracks that I loved best from the artist were never the ones that made the top ten. But because of the internet, it’s now possible to get almost any song you desire. The concept of the album hasn’t completely died but it has now taken a far less important role. Like it or not, the single has once again taken the dominant role. The problem that arises for the artist is to consider even creating an album in the first place. There are many industry people that say creating an album is a waste of time since it’s probably not going to be ‘consumed’ that way anyway. They have a point but there is way more to consider here. You have to ask yourself some questions about what it is you want to do. If the idea is to create some tracks and then go out on tour then putting together a CD is critical. It’s also another way to sell your tracks online and gives fans another alternative. Like Trent Reznor has shown the world, it’s all about giving the fans choices. Some fans will want all of your tunes and putting together a complete CD package is the best way to do that. Albums also give fans a snapshot of were you happen to be at a certain time. I know that for my favorite artists, there are albums that I love more than others. In most cases, even if you do most of your sales online, it’s a good idea to put together an album since it creates another stream of income from your music.
Release It Now
There is one more item that should be looked at when releasing new material. This is what most industry insiders usually refer to when they say that releasing an album isn’t a good idea but they don’t explain it properly. It’s the idea of releasing material immediately. Since the distribution chain is almost immediate, you can release material the day it’s completed. This gives fans immediate access to new material and also gives them a reason to come back to your website. The advent of the big CD release should be reserved for special occasions when there is a market and gives you a great reason tour, to connect with more fans, and to send out press releases. Otherwise it’s a good idea to release material on a regular basis giving fans a reason to come back again and again. Some artists not only release new material on a regular basis but add other items such as videos and separate tracks for the fans to remix. In other words, break down any walls between you and your fans. Always give them a reason to come back. Releasing your new material is a great way to do this. Some artists have even released demos and asked their fans for feedback. There are other sites that allow fans to invest money into their favorite bands to help with recording and tour costs.
One thing that seems to get lost in this equation though is keeping your focus together. Sometimes it’s easy to just start writing anything and then sending it out there for fans to consume. There is a fine line between keeping fans back and simply filling up you website, just to fill it up. The point is that even though there is the ability to release whatever you want and get it out to people, do you want to release everything that you do? There still needs to be some filter to decide if the material is up to your own standards and musical vision. Even if the song is in demos form, is it a good representation of the band. Remember that once it’s out there, it’s out of your control. This is different from sending your stuff out for remixing. Once there have been new material ready, give it a day to review it and see if it something that you really want to get out there. There is a danger now that you can contact people anytime, to make sure that when you do connect, it’s for a good reason. Trust is the issue we’re talking about here. Fans know that if they go to your site that there’s going to be a certain level of quality there. Even if it’s a demo, they know that it will be of a certain quality when it comes to the content. There are a million ways to connect with you fans but there is only so much time in the day that they will be available. This means that when you do try and connect, have something worthwhile to give. There are artists online that constantly push their own stuff without giving much value in return. There is no room for that anymore. There needs to be content but it has to keep the fans attention. It’s not good enough to just have stuff there, it needs to mean something. Putting together CD releases is a great way to have quality content. Putting your newest tracks online for the fans to comment is also a great way to get traffic. Constantly bombarding people with your ‘go to my site’ isn’t. Releasing constant material without making sure it’s of the highest quality isn’t. People now have the choice to listen to anything that they want.
There are no surprises anymore. You can have the greatest marketing and websites in the world but without great content, you’re going to lose. That’s it’s important to always have new material but you have to make sure that it stands up to your standards. Releasing something just because you can isn’t a good reason. If you do this often enough you will betray people’s trust and they won’t come back. It’s been said a million times before and it still stands. It’s all about the connection with people. Release anything, whenever you want. Try to connect with as many people as you can. This takes a while and doesn’t happen in a day. The auto-replies and friends adders don’t work anymore. There needs to be a connection and a reason for people to come back. Give them as many reasons as you can to do this. Make sure though, that it’s something that you feel represents you and your music. Because after all; people and music, that’s what it’s all about.