Marketing is about momentum, as a result, when starting out and looking to make your mark in the music industry, you should be releasing singles, rather than an album.
We say this over and over again, but it is so true - attention spans are shorter than ever, and albums are not exactly, short!
Do not get us wrong though, albums definitely have their perks, such as bringing listeners through a journey, from start to finish, in which you are able to take them through many emotional swings through the album, almost like a story.
The problem is that even for established artists, it can be extremely difficult to have their audience listen to the entire album. It is exponentially harder for independent artists that may just be starting out, or have a smaller following.
In order to do get anyone to listen to your music (album or single), you first need to provide value to your audience, or give them a reason to listen to your music. We have a marketing plan in a previous post that will undoubtedly help you with this, and in addition to that, a great way to provide this value, is breaking up your album of roughly 12 songs, into one single a month-ish.
This way, rather than one big release (an album) maybe once a year, you are able to release a single each month. By doing this, not only will your social pages be more active, but also your fans will enjoy the constant releases, and truthfully, so will music companies.
One of the major things record labels look for in artists is consistency. If you are able to release quality content, frequently, you will therefore not only gain momentum through an increase in followers, engagement and streams, from your fans, but also be put you on the radar of lurking music executives.
Going back to one of the perks of an album however, is being able to provide a story, through the order in which your songs are listened to. This is extremely valuable, as it ensures your songs are listened to in the order you would like them to be, so as to influence the listener.
You can still do that when releasing a single a month, and you can even match a release to a specific time of year, in which people may be in a certain mood.
As an example, releasing an exciting (or upbeat) song in January (around the new year), or releasing a sad song around Valentine’s Day, could prove to be beneficial.
In essence, not only can you influence the order your songs are listened to, but also match them with external events, whether that be holidays, or some other event, to provide added value (and truthfully a great marketing tactic). This is because in addition to the message of the song, you can now relate the song itself to what people already know, for added value to have them listen.
Furthermore, for this added benefit, the workload in terms of creating 12-ish songs will be identical (whether you do an album or 12 singles).
The major difference comes in terms of hype and momentum however. If you released an album, the hype period lasts about 2 months (give or take), whereas if you release a single a month, the hype period would be about 1 month per single (or 12 months a year), a massive improvement for the same work (apart from more promotional posts, distribution plans, playlisting plans, PR plans, etc).
LET’S LOOK AT WHAT THE INDUSTRY IS SAYING TOO
Shorter songs (or singles, rather than albums) are what works!
Airplay - If you’re looking to get airplay for your song (which let’s face it, you most-likely are), singles are the way to go!
Even when Adele released her album in 2021, she was told, “listen, everyone loves you, but no one’s playing a 15-minute song on radio.”
This is not only due to short attention spans, but also logistics, including revenue through ads. It is no secret that shorter songs are more profitable for just about everyone involved.
Momentum is built through consistency
Releasing 1 single frequently ensures your name (and music) is constantly in front of people, which as artists, should always be your goal.
You know the power of your music and we can only assume to spread the message, and power, on a greater level, you need more listeners, which is more easily able to occur, when being consistent, to prolong the hype.
Furthermore, this is something music companies, especially labels scout for (as explained earlier).
Streaming platforms reward quantity
Attention spans and loyalty are two traits that are becoming less and less prominent in the industry.
Artists used to be able to release an album every couple years and still have major success, however with the rise of social media, more and more artists are able to share their music.
As a result, the longer you go without releasing music, the more and more music your followers are being bombard with, as a result, the harder it will be for yourself to achieve the same success as your last album, given the hiatus.
Moreover, streaming platforms, such as Spotify and YouTube Music reward artists that put out content consistently.
Due to this, to have a greater chance of your music being “pushed” by streaming services in their algorithm, releasing music as frequently as possible (yet still maintaining quality) is nearly mandatory for a successful career.
LET'S BREAK IT DOWN (and look at the perks of singles, over albums)
1. Costs - It will be inherently cheaper to produce one single (over an entire album), and assuming you market it correctly, (which are high-level marketing plan will help with), it will fund your next release.
2. Time - Producing one album of 12 songs, or 12 singles is the same workload from a music standpoint alone. What we recommend is writing, recording and producing all songs in a condensed time period, to allow yourself ample time to create unique content for each release.
3. Impact - By concentrating on one song at a time, you are able to dive much deeper into the marketing behind each song, to provide a crystal clear message. As a result, rather than trying to market an entire album (with a general message, that encapsulates a bit of each song), you are able to precisely share the meaning of each song, to really dive into specific emotions, while still presenting a condensed message.
4. Risks - As musicians, there are risks to nearly everything you do, from financial risks, to risks you take when expressing yourself through your music. While you can mitigate risks, through surveying your audience, and ensuring bulletproof plans, risk will never 100% leave you.
However, when you release a single, you are able to dramatically decrease risks, while also experimenting with certain strategies, to see what works best.
If you were to release one album a year, everything would be riding on the success of that album, however through releasing singles, if one, two, three, four or even five do not do as well as you would like, you can learn from them, for your next seven-ish, to still ensure you are successful in achieving your goals.
A FEW THINGS TO BE AWARE OF
To ensure your fans do not become “numb” to your continuous releases, you will need to ensure your marketing plan is unique to each single.
In order to do this, do not re-use content for multiple releases. Treat each release as its own, because at the end of the day, each song is unique.
While each single you release can build off the last, (to provide a cohesive story), you also need to ensure they touch on different feelings, moods, stories, and vibes, so as to keep the content fresh, new and exciting.
Remember, when looking to grow your music career, it is all about gaining momentum, and releasing singles over an album allows for that. Work smart!