Grunge-folk artist, Julia Why?, all the way from Sydney, wrote to ask whether she should record a single or EP or go for a full album. It raises an important question of how relevant albums are in the new look music industry and what the best strategy is for emerging artists.
“We have enough songs to record a full album but would it be more effective to record and release an EP first? Or even just a single to start out? We haven’t released anything in the past so I’m a bit unsure. Any thoughts on this would be really helpful.”
The digitalisation of the music industry over the last decade has played a part in the gradual death of the album format. This has lead to a market that is much more conducive to singles and EPs as fans cherry pick their favourite individual tracks from digital stores like iTunes.
Here I’ll focus on why singles and EPs are so much more effective than albums for emerging artists (especially if you haven’t released material before) but if you want to know more about why the album died, check out this article posted on Music Think Tank.
…only get a very small opportunity to make an impression with potential fans, press, labels, publishers etc. People have really short attention spans and music scouts and press have a relatively small amount of time to get through hundreds of artists that send them music.
The sheer cost of producing a full album necessitates a fairly high selling price. This is a problem for a new artist trying to attract fans. There are thousands of people looking for new music but they want it quickly, they want your best tracks and they want it free.
You need to attract fans with bite-sized bits of your best music and make it as easily accessible and as cheap as possible.
The best thing to do is put all your efforts into a single or a small EP. If you have the money to track, mix and press a full album, I would suggest making sure you have 2 or 3 really brilliant recordings of your best songs and then keep some of the money to spend on promotion (hiring PR or radio pluggers.) Spending the money on promotion for one or two tracks will be far more beneficial than simply producing a full album but having no money to promote it with.
Build Fans, then Monetise
If you’ve not released any music before, you need to build a buzz around your name and start building some fans. The best way to do this is ensnare them with cheap or free material in small doses. Then once you have them excited about your output, hit them with an album when they have a relationship with you and are willing to start paying for your music.
People are generally not willing to part with their cash for music they haven’t heard yet, especially from a band they don’t know. Get them on board as fans first , let them get to know and love your music, then they will come back as paying consumers. This means they are likely to buy albums, merchandise and gig tickets.
Even artists that have been signed are usually developed by spending around a year releasing singles and growing their fan base and the relationship with their fans before releasing a full album.
I hope this helps in some way and good luck with the release! Keep checking back as we’ve got some quality advice coming up on how to put together and schedule a full release.
Kyle Wilkinson and producer Frankie from The Afternoon Show with Kyle Wilkinson will be debating whether the album really has died from 3pm today on Amazing Radio and they want your input! Head over to our Facebook page and join the debate. Are you still buying albums? Or do you head straight for the singles and individual tracks?
If you have questions about your band’s next step or if you’re just a bit curious about the music industry, leave a comment here, tweet @amazingtunes, Facebook us, or email me at email@example.com.