You might have heard me say it before. I spoke my mind last year about making albums and why bands should cut it out, and it struck a chord with some. Most of those people commented with knee-jerk reactions and name calling, which hurt my feelings in a way that made me feel too powerful for my own good. Thankfully, it was a fleeting feeling. The feedback wasn’t all negative, though. Canadian country singer Kathleen Edwards referred to it as a “good f***ing idea” in an interview on Minneapolis blog City Pages. And requests for more misguided advice flooded into my inbox. I’ll answer some of those queries here in the future, but for now I want to reiterate my original point.
Bands, especially emerging artists, would be wise to stop making albums and instead focus on releasing singles. The idea is that, with the way people now consume music, staying in the periphery of the listener is one of the most important things you can do as you climb the mountain of “making it”—assuming that’s your goal. It’s almost impossible to do when your band releases an album and the buzz dies within a few months. It will still be two more years until another one comes out and you’ve got no new music to show for it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love albums and I believe in the idea that they represent a more complete piece of art than a song does, but in marketing one’s band, they just don’t stretch as far as they used to. If you’re still hung up on making albums, you can release a string of singles throughout the year, then compile them with a few more unreleased songs and put them out as an album.
However, if you’re an artist making music only for art’s sake, and you make a bitter beer face at any sort of commercial success, these words don’t apply to you. But if your dream is to make music for a living for a long time, this just might help. I should warn you, though, failure is all but guaranteed. So the best advice I can give you is just have fun.