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Monday
Jan212013

Stop Making Them Wait And Give Them The Music

Right then, you’ve been writing and performing for a while now, you’ve got a nice notepad scribbled with lyrics and a hard drive full of demos and a fanbase that hits a few cities. So you might be fooled into thinking now would be a good time to take some time out to write an album, right?


 
 
Nope.
 
You’ve spent all that time building yourself up, faced all the challenges of getting people to connect and you want to take 6 months to year out to write music, only posting “Exciting things to come, can’t wait for you to hear it” on Facebook every other week? Sounds ridiculous! People don’t have big attention spans, if you disappear for that length of time, when you come back with that pristine, packaged album you’ll of been forgotten about.
 
So what should you be doing?
You should be releasing as often as possible. If you have the content for an album you have the content for 10 singles or 5 Eps. What’s going to keep you at the forefront of your fans mind; the promise of music to come? Or consistent music every other month?…Exactly!
 
You may worry about the quality, I mean, how can you guarantee consistent quality music when you’re firing out an EP every two months? Well, think of it this way, if one EP flops, you’re fans will probably forgive you and you can focus on making the next one better. Whereas if you’ve spent a year on an album making your fans wait and it flops, you’ve lost a year and you’ve lost the fan.
 
There is too much pressure on bringing out a spectacular album. An album which is essentially 3-4 great singles and a bunch of fillers, so why put yourself through that? Release more often and you can work on different EPs which lets you experiment with your music, while giving your fans more to listen to, more to talk about and more to share. If you want an example of this in play, check out the guys of Bastille. They’ve been whipping out EPs and singles more often than they (probably) change their underwear. Some have been crackers, some have been a bit ‘meh,’ but do I make sure I get every one of them? Yes, I do!
 
 
So if you have track that goes down a storm at a show, why make fans wait a year to hear it on an album? Record it straight away and get it out, if it’s a rough mix, give it away for free with the promise it will be fully mastered on the next EP. You’re supplying demand here remember. The last thing you want is to disappoint fans by taking ages to release music, for it then to be a dud. The disappointment will be tenfold. This method gives you another chance. You have more chances to play. Mess up one, it’s ok, you’ve got the next one to sort it out.
 
If you write a song late on a Friday night, why not record it over the weekend and send it out to your mailing list? Give them the story of how it’s just for them and that you wrote it just two days ago, they’re getting first listen. They’re going to feel way more connected than if you’d just said, “Wrote a sweet song, you’ll have to wait for the album to hear it though!
The idea here is to create as many new moments as you can between you, your music and your fan, keep them coming and the fan will stay. Make them wait 6 months and not only will the fan become disconnected with you but you’ll become disconnected with the music.
Tom Satchwell is a music lover, marketer and founder of BeatsOnToast. He writes about modern and interesting ways bands and artists can develop themselves and their careers on his blog. Follow him on Twitter: @TomSSatchwell

Reader Comments (13)

Another band that does this is Ghost Beach. They were releasing a new single every month followed with big success on Hype Machine, Youtube and other music blogs. Then later packaging the songs as an album.

January 21 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

Nice post, Tom.

You're shining a light on a topic that could use some attention from the music community. It seems pretty clear that your main point - bands should release more music, more frequently - is dead on.

However, anyone who's tried to keep up this type of release schedule knows that it can be difficult to get really high-quality music out the door on a weekly/monthly basis. I'd love to see some back and forth from other bands/artists on whether they've found it useful to release demos, live tracks, and other non-master quality recordings.

I like the idea of releasing demos of songs in progress, sort of keeping fans up to date on what's happening and whetting their appetite for the final version, but I've had pushback from some fans who just get attached to the first version they hear, and then aren't interested in any subsequent versions, even if they're more polished.

Anyone else have this experience, or any other? Would love to hear different perspectives.

January 21 | Unregistered CommenterMike Baker

Awesome post. I was just saying virtually the same thing in conversation while planning my next release just a few days ago.

January 21 | Unregistered CommenterLojah

Hi Tom,

Could you comment a bit more about your experience when it comes to financing, project managing and budgeting for indie music recordings (pre-production, tracking, mixing and mastering) that inform the post. And any track record of success you've achieved?

Generally speaking music publicists and radio stations want a six week lead time. As do local music print press. And blogs like a couple of weeks lead time. Are you suggesting musicians just put singles out without any publicity?

I had a look at your blog's About page and it said you're a marketing executive for Ditto Music, so other than the solitary example of Bastille you've given, it would be good to understand on what basis you're putting the idea of "Record it straight away and get it out" forward as advice to indie musicians.

It sounds like you're suggesting musicians should ignore any notion of quality control when it comes to developing their repertoire - and ignoring the way most channels of discovery for new music operate in the real world?

Either hearing some detail on what professional experience you've had releasing singles with the strategy you're advocating - or any hard sales data you're drawing from would ground your advice.

Thanks

January 22 | Unregistered CommenterVigilante Boy

Love this approach. Feed your fans a drip at a time. Keeps them fed, but always wanting more. You can do this with merchandise and videos as well.

January 22 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

I don't agree.
I think we all should think big. So an album. And if it doesn't work (whatever the reason you considered about it), do another one.
Ask a huge act to do only Eps... It's going to be frustrating for fans. No reason it's the same for indie acts. For a single fan there is no difference between a huge act and an unknown indie act. Because they just love it. What you do. And expect you to do it big. Whatever the time you spend on it. They won't forget you if it's big. Or they will because they connected with something else, but be sure somebody else will catch on... It's worth the wait for them... almost... Don't do underrated things... it's not worth it. Question of money ? have a day job and keep it on...

Did I say I don't agree ? hey whatever...
It just takes a lot of time...

January 23 | Unregistered CommenterBurzinski

Bonjour,
Nice post and interesting topic. I'm asking myself the same questions. And honestly I don't have a definitive answer.

To this day, I've released 3 full length albums. I have always taken my time doing them focusing mainly on quality. People that listen to my music and buy those albums seem to enjoy that. It makes me happy when my fans tell me they enjoy listening to my records regularly. I think that quality helps an album last through time and if I am selling my music, I want to sell a quality product to the fans that follow me or to people that want to take home a "little bit" of me after one of my shows.

On the other hand knowing that with the web and social media you need to produce content, I've released several demos that people can download for free and people seem to enjoy doing that. I always tell the story and the context of the song. I do these demos using a simple Zoom 4 recorder. I also release live tracks and recordings. Looking at the numbers people seem to enjoy that but it's still a work in process. And I think it works mainly with people that are already fans of my music. Do I get new fans releasing free demos or live recordings, honestly, I don't know! :-)

-->Mike Baker: To answer your question above, it's hard for me to produce quality music regularly. I make a living by gigging, and it always takes a lot of time and organization to go make a full length album in studio. I don't think I could keep up the pace with recording "quality" music regularly. I'll keep you posted! :-)

Eric John Kaiser
"French Troubadour"
http://www.ericjohnkaiser.com

January 24 | Unregistered CommenterEric John Kaiser

What about copyrights?

January 24 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Anders

Good post Tom,
I think the answer lies somewhere between you and Burzinski. We can't deny that since the internet, the music industry has changed immensely, the question I think is, where is the middle ground here. The internet in my opinion is a two sided issue, it's been good for some artists and very harmful to others. People are so used to getting things for free these days that the question is how do we regulate the abuse of copywrite infringements. It seems abysmal trying to figure out how to get on reign on the illegal downloading and copying of material. The challenge is keeping up with technology and figuring out ways for artists to be compensated for their efforts.

January 25 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Springborn

Good post Tom,
I think the answer lies somewhere between you and Burzinski. We can't deny that since the internet, the music industry has changed immensely, the question I think is, where is the middle ground here. The internet in my opinion is a two sided issue, it's been good for some artists and very harmful to others. People are so used to getting things for free these days that the question is how do we regulate the abuse of copyright infringements. It seems abysmal trying to figure out how to get on reign on the illegal downloading and copying of material. The challenge is keeping up with technology and figuring out ways for artists to be compensated for their efforts.

January 25 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Springborn

You are making a lot of sense and you got me thinking.
Thanks for sharing your wisdom....:)

February 2 | Unregistered CommenterDamen Samuel

Giving teasers to your new LP is good marketing, but you should never release too many or release the LP at a very big time difference when everybody is already bored with what you already released.

February 11 | Unregistered CommenterPuiu

Interesting article, but with many new and upcoming artists today like myself aren't that financially in these tough economic times. Recording and Production costs money, so we can't always record and release as we would love to. I'm speaking for the 99%

February 11 | Unregistered CommenterKW

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