Gone are the days when you’d record and release a new album every three or four years, throw all your promotional eggs into that one basket, tour non-stop for two years, and then repeat. Everything has changed, from the consumption habits of music fans to the costs and processes of music production.
Nowadays — especially in the independent music world — the more music you release (assuming it’s good music), the greater your chances of building a loyal fanbase that can help you sustain a successful career. Whether you’re releasing monthly singles, two EPs a year, or creating multiple live albums per tour, frequency is becoming key to building a buzz.
Here are 10 reasons you should be recording and distributing more music
1. Keep your existing fans “tuned in” - Our attention spans are getting shorter and our entertainment options are increasing. If you disappear for three years without any new music, you can’t expect your old fans to pick right up where you left off. You need to stay on their radar if you want them to continue supporting you with equal fervor. The more frequently you release music, the more chances you have to remind them of why they love you.
2. Generate more opportunities for press - Likewise, the more music you put out, the more chances you have to contact bloggers, music magazines, local weeklies, etc. Pinning all your PR hopes on one album release every few years really limits your chances to get the press talking about your music.
3. Pace your creative and recording workload - It’s very time-consuming (and potentially expensive) to complete a major recording project all at once. Generally to finish tracking and mixing a full album in one stretch, you’re looking at anywhere from two to twelve weeks’ worth of work. But what about one song a month? That sounds more manageable, healthy, and realistic, which probably means it’s more likely to happen!
You’ll put everything you have into one song at a time to get it right; then have a little break from recording until next month — rather than exhausting all your energy or ideas. You can release a single every month for a year (and even do a release party for each one if you want to draw some extra attention to the new music). At the end of the year, compile the best ten tracks into an album.
4. Highlight your best songs in multiple ways - Fans love bonus material: remixes, rough demos, alternate takes, b-sides, etc. You can either release these bonus tracks as singles throughout the year, or include them in a special edition of your next album (which gives diehard fans another incentive to purchase the full album even though they already bought the singles that appear on that album separately).
5. Show off your live chops - Whether you produce your own concert recording or do an in-studio for a radio show, TV program, or music blog — turn those sessions into albums or EPs. People love to hear raw, live performance versions of their favorite songs.
6. Music supervisors don’t care how new or old something is – The more music you make available, the greater your chances of getting a song placement in a movie, TV show, or commercial. You never know what the producers of a show or film will need in terms of music, so make it ALL available, even if it was recorded decades ago.
7. Your older music will always be new to someone - Similarly, music fans are less interested these days in “the latest thing.” I mean, there’s certainly a big emphasis on current releases still, but niche music audiences have the opportunity and inclination to explore what’s BEST, not only what’s new. So that’s another great reason to make sure ALL your music is available for sale worldwide.
8. More merch = more sales – I don’t know if anyone has done a scientific “merch booth” study, but I’ve noticed that the more different items I make available at my own shows, the more people come up to check out the CDs and t-shirts (and most importantly, mailing list). The more people at the table, the greater the chance of selling your music.
9. Your music will improve – Let’s assume your music is good to start with. Now factor in those hours (paced as they are throughout the year) you’ve spent writing and recording tunes. You’re going to get better: as a writer, producer, arranger, engineer, or performer. More songs, and better songs — bonus!
10. You can stretch yourself creatively - Maybe you’ve seen the wisdom in distributing music more frequently, but you’re not all that prolific in terms of original material. Committing to a release schedule can also open you up to other creative possibilities — such as collaboration, cover songs, novelty or topical songs, new genres, etc. Exploring these avenues can also lead to additional sync opportunities, press, and fun interactions with your fans.
Well, there you have it, 10 reasons to release more music this year — and hopefully via CD Baby (if I have any say in the matter). CD Baby will distribute your music to over 95 download and streaming services, over 15,000 record stores around the world, and provide the tools you need to sell directly to your fans.
What are some other reasons to release music with greater frequency? Let me know in the comments section below.
[Picture of mixing console from Shutterstock.]