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Is It Better To Release Singles Or Albums In 2022?

  • Damian Keyes
    Damian Keyes
  • Feb 10th 2022

Sometimes it comes across that I'm not a fan of albums.

This isn't true - I love albums!

I love listening to albums and being in the world that an artist has created in a longer form than a single or EP.

The problem with new artists releasing albums is that the consumption levels for your music aren't normally there yet.

If it's tricky to get someone to listen to one song... It's a lot trickier to get them to listen to a whole album!

So it comes down to timing, building momentum, and releasing an album when you have an audience that will want to listen.

Should I Release a Single or Release an Album?

The biggest mistake artists make with their release strategy is this: Releasing an album when you don’t yet have a fanbase.

Albums vs singles is one of the big arguments today in the music industry.

The truth is, releasing singles and albums can benefit your career, but getting the timing and execution right is a different thing entirely.

Emerging artists should aim to release mostly songs, singles and micro-content over albums. Singles serve the purpose of helping find new fans and building your audience.

Too many bands and singers get obsessed over the idea of dropping a full concept album from the get-go and always being disappointed when it doesn't get the reaction they feel it deserves.

This is because no one is listening or paying attention yet.

Musician recording

But, My Favourite Bands and Singers Release Albums?

Singles and micro-content should be your focus at the beginning to attract new fans and grow existing fans. When you have reached enough fans by releasing singles, you can start attacking the idea of a full-length album.

Music artists should be strategic in their release strategies and not base it on the works of their favorite artists. Just because your favourite bands only release albums, it doesn't mean you should too. You're playing a different game right now.

We all want bigger numbers and more Spotify streams, but you need to build momentum first.

So how should you actually do this?

I'm going to break down how releasing singles or the 'one song at a time' strategy fits into the way we consume music these days, how you should actually release a single effectively, as well as my strategy for a successful album release when you are ready.

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How To Use Modern Music Consumption Habits To Build A Fan Base

We live in a time where instant gratification is at an all-time high.

It's a music industry trend that shows no signs of slowing down.

If you want anything, you can get it quickly and instantly.

Because of this... our level of patience has lowered dramatically.

If we want to invest our time, we want to see the gains right now.

I personally think it's a sad state of affairs right now, but this doesn't change where consumption is at and how if we want to get our music heard, we need to work with consumption habits to make it work for us.

We may not like that people won't immediately stream our 117-minute full-length concept album, it doesn't mean they won't. It just means we need to build up trust with our audience so they commit their time because they want to, not because they're being asked to.

So initially when building an audience, we need to play the consumption game. We feed our music into the instant gratification culture.

So, how can you do this?

1. Everything Is Visual

Right now, visuals are king. Attach your music to video and break this down into smaller clips for your socials. Don't just roll with one video.

Be creative with this, you can do a fan video, a lyric video, a reaction video, a concept performance video... All to the same audio. I can't stress enough how vital visuals are, and it's never been cheaper or easier for us to do.

2. Releasing Singles and Not Albums

This is what this piece is all about.

Building in singles means you're constantly drip-feeding instead of giving it all in one go. You'll build more traction and momentum this way. Then you can release longer form music when your audience is invested and will put in the time.

3. Grab Attention

Grabbing and holding attention is key right now. The first 3 seconds is the most important, so utilize this information. Don't make people work for it - get into the good stuff quickly.

Band filming music video

4. Small Hits Are Better Than One Big Hit

Similar to singles vs albums, small hits every day normally works better than one big hit (or the pressure is on for that one big hit being INCREDIBLE).

5. Make Everything Easy

People don't want to work online. They want to be able to hit a button and it provide what they want. So send clear messages and make it easy for them and you'll be rewarded for that :)

Just to be clear, this is about how to bring people into your fanbase. Once you have their attention and trust, they are far more likely to listen to a full album or watch that 15 minute behind the scenes video.

This is about utilizing current consumption habits to help you get your music heard and build your fanbase.

Single Release Strategy

So let's say you're on board.

You want to release singles, start building up some hype on social media about your new song and get more hype on Spotify.

You need to maximize each release. In 2022, a successful single release strategy begins at least 5-6 weeks before the actual release date!

There is a lot to think about when releasing singles in 2022, which is why I've broken it down day by day for you. You can download the 22-day release plan now, or watch the entire video here!

Album Release Strategy

Once you've established your fanbase' by releasing songs using these snowball strategies, it could be time to think about releasing music in the form of an album.

It's all about timing when releasing an album.

The issue with an album is, when you put all your songs out in one go, people are already asking "what's next" a few weeks later.

At that point, you might have another 6, 8 or 12 months before you can get another album released! It takes a long to write, arrange, record, mix and master an album.

This is why singles are great for building momentum and creating a flow.

If you don't have a big engaged group of fans, putting an album out might be too much for them to consume yet.

Here's what to do when you do have fans ready to release an album for!

Show Patience With Album Releases

An album release plan is totally different from a single.

If you can make and release a single every 4 weeks, great. If you can make an album every 6-12 months, amazing. But most artists can't churn out this amount of music.

A full-length album takes a lot of time, effort, and money to record, promote with music marketing and release to fans.

This is why you must not leave your audience blank for another 12-18 months after an album release.

You need to realize that the drip-feeding content first to build a following and thinking about the post-album release is just as important as the actual album drop itself.

Understand consumption habits.

People will listen to the long-form, but first, you have to get them to buy into the short form!

Earn their time through content, consistency, and telling your story.