Let’s face it. We live in the era of song singles. Why fight the tide when we can swim with it?
With this in mind, I have come up with what I believe to be the best strategy for new and emerging bands or artists. I am in a band my self and I also produce other bands and artists and this is the strategy that I have been using personally and suggesting to those I work with.
1) Unbundle your album.
I highly recommend reading Unbundling The Album: A Business Case For Releasing Single Songs. In his blog, Frank Woodworth describes the benefits of embracing singles promotionally, artistically, and financially. By creating a strategy where you release your songs weekly, monthly or quarterly you keep your material fresh, you keep your fans engaged, and you can determine which songs do well and which ones don’t. I would also release the tracks as digital only to keep costs down on manufacturing.
2) Throw in some B-Sides or extras
When someone buys your single, you can throw in one or two B-Sides (traditionally a B-Side is a song that wasn’t strong enough to make your full length album), demo tracks or offer some kind of added value. You can get creative here. Maybe you offer a special event or exclusive content on your website to anyone who bought your single. I would suggest reading the blog The Future Of Music Business Models (And Those Who Are Already There) by Mike Masnick. He talks about giving fans a reason to buy your music and has several examples of what both super stars and indie artists are doing creatively to add value to what they offer.
3) Make a compilation album
Pick other bands and artists in complementary genres and put one to two tracks each on a compilation album. This way you leverage the efforts of a group of people (as opposed to just your self or your band) who are trying to promote the album. You can release several of these a year with various artist line ups again keeping your material fresh and capitalizing on the current trends.
4) Music videos
Take 3-4 songs a year and release a music video for them. Youtube has become the new MTV and people love seeing as well as hearing. These do not need to be high budget productions (you can probably record the whole video on your phone) but should be creative and project the best image for your band that you can.
5) Release a full album every 12-24 months
This should be aimed toward true music fans and should include the best of the best songs that were released through out the year (get feedback from your fans which again gets them engaged and makes them feel more like a part of your musical community) and perhaps 2-4 new tracks never before released. You should have great art work and design and offer as many extras as you can creatively think of.
6) Tour and sell your merchandise
This almost goes with out saying but you need to be out there in front of people playing music and selling your merchandise (which includes CD’s, T-Shirts and apparel, and what ever else you can think of to sell). Your live show is where you will make the most new fans and make a lot of your money (especially for newer bands and artists).
Now I could talk about social media, websites, promotion and so many other things, but I am assuming that you are already doing all of that. Remember back to my earlier blog The Future Of The Music Industry: Part 1 where I talk about the key to success in this or any business is community. Everything you do should be geared toward building your community. I believe that by utilizing the strategies above, that you will be able to leverage your efforts more effectively and build a huge community.
Cary Crichlow, Senior Producer and Engineer
RCR Recording Studios