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Written by Ramsey Brown.
Are you an independent artist sitting on a hard drive full of unreleased tracks? Or as I like to call it, sitting on a pot of gold. You may be convincing yourself that you’re waiting on the right time to drop them, or maybe you just don’t know where, when, or how to properly release them.
Well, what better time than now?!
We get it… you’ve worked so hard on a song and you want the release to be as flawless as the track is. As a creative you’ve probably asked yourself, "Should I go ahead and release the single?", "Should I wait and drop an EP?" or "Maybe i’ll just keep stacking up music and work towards releasing an album...”
There are many different strategies to consider before sharing your music to the public. Rightfully so, you should weigh out all options in order to optimize your release.
There is a distinction to be made between singles, EP’s, and albums. Let’s discuss the various routes an artist can take and which option makes the most sense for you and your career.
A single, as it sounds, is typically one song or recording that is released separately from an album. There are many different arguments as to why dropping a single is better than dropping a full album or EP.
One point to make is that singles will ultimately receive more airplay on both streaming services and the radio. When you release a song on streaming platforms, you can submit it to playlist curators to better your chances of the song getting heard.
If you are a newer artist without a significant following, dropping singles is the fastest way to gain traction and interest around your music. With such fierce competition on streaming platforms, and consumer’s listening habits geared towards automatic playlists, it’s imperative for artists to release consistent content to become relevant.
Singles are also great for greener musicians because they cost significantly less than an album. From production to marketing, it's easier and more beneficial to put all of your resources into one song rather than multiple songs at once.
So if you have a few singles and you’re debating which ones to release... gather your own favorite tracks and share them with friends to see which one they enjoy most. It may surprise you to learn that your top picks are not always the crowd favorite.
Quality is crucial when it comes to releasing music, but quantity has become a neighboring factor. Whether you are a newer artist or a seasoned vet, you want to keep your fans engaged with fresh content. When an artist is looking to build their fanbase, it is important to release a new single at least once a month.
Not only will constant releases create anticipation for listeners, it will drive more traffic to your page and allow you to expand your audience.
After you’ve released a steady flow of singles and have started building up your fanbase, you should begin strategizing for your next release.
An EP, or an Extended Play, is a compilation of around 3-6 songs and normally under 30 minutes long. EP’s are lengthier than a single but are not qualified as an album.
Many artists release EP’s when they have multiple songs that are meant to be listened to together or in a specific order. Almost like telling a story - with a beginning track, middle track, and ending track.
Often EP’s include interludes, or short breaks in the music. Whether it’s an acapela, instrumental section, or a conversation between band members, interludes are a great way to add character into the music.
This longer compilation of music also allows artists to make a greater impression on the audience and media both. This is an opportunity to make a big statement with your music, so you want to make sure the content of your EP is more substantial than that of your previous singles.
During the release of your EP, it is essential to have a marketing plan in order to properly promote your EP. First, you’ll want to set a release date. Then, you’ll want to begin growing hype around the project.
The most obvious way is to get it out on every streaming platform possible. Additionally, blast social media with your new release announcement. You can even throw an EP release party because releasing new music is definitely something to celebrate!
Send out your new music to radio stations, blogs, clubs, venues, and of course, your fan club. EP’s can also be a great way to incentivize fans. You can offer a free download code to top fans that sign up for your email list or who purchase your merch online - True fanatics love exclusive content.
This will ultimately create more buzz and hype around your music, and buzz is what you are going to need before taking the next step of releasing music...
After you’ve released multiple singles, and created a buzz from dropping EP’s, you may be thinking of releasing an album next.
An album is a collection of 6 or more songs that is over 30 minutes long. They’re great for creating hype within your audience and generating press around your brand.
Hopefully by now you’ve accumulated a growing fanbase, and it’s likely that they’re expecting something bigger to come from you. As an artist, you always want to keep your fans happy and give them what they want.
When hearing an album, it should feel like an experience to the listener; when creating an album, it should feel like an experience for the musician as well. For this reason, you should never feel rushed or pressured into making an album. If the time is right and you have the music for a full track-list, then you should consider dropping an album.
More times than not, albums will signify specific feelings, events, situations, or themes in an artist’s life. It should hold a different meaning than your previous releases and create a personal connection between the artist and the listener.
Making an album can be a very lengthy and costly process - deciding on the track-list, picking a release date, choosing a title, finding collaborators, ensuring your samples are clear, getting a distributor, and organizing a promo campaign, just to name the very basics.
These are reasons why more and more musicians have been straying away from albums and taking the route of singles or EP’s.
Whether you should drop a single, EP, or album is very much situational. There are different deciding factors that vary for each artist depending on where he or she stands in their music career.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to release strategies. What’s most important is that you are actually dropping music and creating momentum.
Especially for upcoming artists, there are zero benefits from holding onto your songs. The quicker you release music, the quicker you can begin building your fanbase.
It’s simple. The more music you drop, the better your chances are of getting plays and followers.
Quit delaying putting out new music, because it could ultimately be delaying your shot at true success!
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