This is a matter that I’ve struggled with, going back and forth. Should I release full length albums in this new music era or should I be releasing singles once per month? I was leaning towards releasing a single each month for one reason: consistent fan engagement. It’s good to always have something new to talk about with your fans!
But then, I ran into a problem - a few weeks isn’t enough time to promote a song in any kind of impactful/effective way, especially when you are an independent artist. You’ve barely promoted that song before you’ve moved onto the next one. And from the fan engagement standpoint, I found many of them didn’t know I had certain songs out. For whatever reason, all of the fans don’t pay attention all of the time. So if there’s no sustained attention/focus on the promotion of a particular release, it’s hard for people to know it exists.
Another important point is that this business has always been about THE SONG. And when you have a great song, it’s just not possible to see its full potential realized (in spreading out there) when you give it only a short promotional window.
So then, the question became…how do I solve the need to have something new to engage the fans with and the need to keep promotional focus on one release in order to maximize its impact in the marketplace at large?
For one, I think releasing an album (a body of works/songs) is necessary to accomplish this. Forget that people are going to buy whatever single song they like on your album and not necessarily the whole thing. That’s going to happen in this market. The issue isn’t point of sale. The issue is promotion. I think the album is necessary for promotional purposes. With an album, I can create a longer window for gaining awareness and discovery by new fans. And, at the same time, always have something new for the current fans, but pointing them to the same release…which will also help them discover the album and dive deeper into it.
With an album, you can have something new to announce/promote to the fans and public each week, such as:
- Album release (obviously for start)
- “Making of” “behind the scenes” videos from making the album (you could have 2 or three - that’s 2 or 3 weeks of promotional time)
- One free song from album for email announcement
- Upcoming shows
- New music videos (one video per song per week on Youtube - 10 song album, that’s 10 weeks of promotional time, it doesn’t have to be an expensive video - just interesting)
- Cover contest (invite fans to cover a specific song for a prize - you can do it again for another week of promotional time)
- Tie a specific song with a charitable cause
You can go on and on…there are so many creative ways when you have a collection of songs (an album) that you’re working with to promote as opposed to just having one song. The prolonged attention you put on and generate for that album is only going to raise sales and raise your profile as an artist to the public as you progress. Moving on too quickly can really hurt your progress as an artist. I remember reading an article once about Montell Jordan. They had released “This Is How We Do It” and it was a major success. But they moved too quick on promoting a new release and it didn’t work because people were still into “This Is How We Do It”. Radio was still just spinning “This Is How We Do It” (and I’m willing to bet that it was because the market was still discovering that song; hence, the demand). Not respecting the promotional window ended up hurting his career.
Each release is like a spark. So you have to take time to fan the flames and let it burn. When it starts fizzling out and you’ve run out of creative ways to prolong attention on it…then start planning the next release. You can’t have fire if all you do is make sparks, but wont fan the flames. Just a thought.
Minh is an artist, producer, and entrepreneur based in the DC area. His official site is www.reachminh.com.