What makes the most sense for independent artists?

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Photo credit: Jamakassi

Are the albums dead? Are singles the new way to build your music career? The “albums versus singles” debate has been going on for a while. So let’s break it down and look at the positives of albums and singles, then talk about the best strategy for indie artists: focus on your eras.

The benefits of releasing albums

What is an album? This is a debate in its own right, so let’s just define it for the purposes of this article. Spotify and Apple Music classify your release as an album if it contains seven or more tracks and/or is at least 30 minutes long. So let’s go with that definition.

Personally, I love listening to albums. Turn off the lights, grab a drink and listen on my beautiful studio monitors. It’s like living a sound film. The thing is, it’s not always a good idea to release an album as an independent musician. But here’s when releasing an album is absolutely a smart move:

  • When you want to make a consistent statement: albums let you say something across multiple songs, both sonically and thematically. So don’t release an album of unrelated songs that way.
  • When you want to give your fans something to enjoy: if you have a fan base that sits down and listens to at least 30 minutes of your music, then an album makes sense. It gives your super fans more of your art to get their teeth into at the same time.
  • If you want to develop your sound over time: technically, you can do this with singles, but albums with different sounds can be more digestible and less taxing for the public. It can be easier for your fans to follow your sonic development through the context of your different albums.

The Benefits of Freeing Singles

Self-contained singles have become much more popular in recent years. They were once a precursor to an artist’s next album, a way to promote the album. But today, an artist can go from hobbyist to full-time musician with just one viral song. So we’re seeing a lot more independent artists just releasing singles.

Here’s when it makes sense to release a single as an independent musician:

  • When your budget is limited: Independent artists often don’t have huge budgets, so investing in one great song can make more sense than trying to raise a lot of money to release multiple songs together.
  • When you want to grow your audience: because people have shorter attention spans today, they are more likely to listen to a song by an artist they have never heard of (you) instead of that entire album artist. Releasing singles allows you to promote one song at a time and bring more new fans into the fold.
  • To stay in the ears of your fans: we live in an economy of time and attention. There are so many directions a person can be drawn to, so you want to get a piece of the attention pie. By releasing singles regularly, you can keep your music in the ears of your fans.

Albums vs. singles: which is better for independent artists?

@ndpndntpodcast

If you’re just starting out or your priority is growth, we highly recommend consistent singles > albums 📈 #independentartist #musicmarketingtip #singersongwriters #musicbusiness #indieartists

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Here is the verdict: singles are good for expanding your audience, albums are good once you have an audience that will listen to some of your work.

If you’ve never released music before, dropping an album is a bad strategy. On the other hand, if you have a larger audience that is hungry for your new music, singles alone may not satisfy them.

Most likely, you’re in the growth phase of your career (like most of us), so it makes more sense to release a single, promote that song, and then repeat the process.

Years ago when I started releasing music, I was doing things the old fashioned way. I released an album, played a few gigs, posted my music on social media, and then started all over again. What can I say, I’m a huge album fan, so it was fun to share some of my work.

But that didn’t get me very far in terms of growing my fanbase, so now I’m focusing on growing my audience with singles.

Focus on your time

If you’re like me and love the process of making an album but still need to expand your audience, then you might like the idea of ​​developing an “era.” As this indie artist suggests, you can take your album’s tracklist and “put it aside,” then release those songs throughout the year. Super interesting, right?

Yes, as an album lover, it’s hard to let go of the idea of ​​an album – the hallmark of a “real” musician. But as an independent artist, we have to adapt or be left behind.

So perhaps the new way forward combines the idea of ​​an album – a collection of songs that make a thematic and sonic statement – ​​with the strategy of singles – dropping songs one at a time. And we call that an era.

So how old are you now? And what era will you enter next?

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