The album sales cycle has changed. Once upon a time, you could spend a year or two (or more) recording an album, 6 months building up the buzz, then release it to the world and go on the road to promote it for 2 years. Rinse/repeat.
And since space on record store shelves was limited, the object was to sell through as many copies of your current record as possible, and to focus all efforts on that recent release. Next time around you focus on the next release, and so forth.
But things have changed. You no longer need to worry about how many units of your back catalog a distributor or store can warehouse or sell alongside your newest album. Digital shelf space is limitless. This means, more than ever, that the real product you are selling is YOU, and ALL of the music you’ve ever made. To a new fan, all of that music is brand new.
For music licensing opportunities, view your music as a catalog
The idea is obsolete that just because an album or song is old means it’s not licensable. The breadth of your musical output is a huge asset that you should be leveraging whenever you seek out new opportunities to license your music. The more songs in your catalog, the better your chances to make money.
CD Baby’s own Kevin Breuner had a recording project about 10 years ago called “The Covering” which had relatively quiet beginnings. For the first few years, it saw hardly any exposure at all. But he didn’t just forget about it; he didn’t just leave it in the past and move on to the next thing. While he continued to create new music for new projects, he kept “The Covering” album available in his catalog for licensing opportunities. At some point it caught on, and now it has ended up being placed in quite a few commercials over the past 5 years.
So, in summary, all this is to say: view your musical output as a lasting catalog, one that is worth promoting and leveraging in its entirety (even if you choose to favor your newest releases). Break out of the old habits and patterns of traditional album cycles; there’s unlimited “shelf-space” in the digital age, and the internet opens your music up to millions of potential customers– so your old music is always new to someone! And in terms of licensing your music, the deeper your catalog, the better your chances of earning money through placements.
-Chris R. at CD Baby