With the way the music industry has transformed to favor the instant gratification of playlists over the past couple of years, musicians are rethinking the ways they work in some significant ways. Chiefly, the breakdown of the album as music’s main music-listening format is forcing musicians of every stripe to approach making and releasing music differently to cater to music-addicted audiences with perpetually diminishing attention spans. Releasing more music more often is the only way to keep listeners engaged, conventional music industry wisdom dictates. But for as much as a non-stop musical race might sound doable to some musicians, it’s an approach that isn’t likely to work for most of us.
1. Making music that’s actually good takes time
There’s nothing keeping you from writing and releasing a constant stream of new music, but let’s think about what makes music good for a minute. Albums sometimes take years to make which is one of the reasons many artists are opting to release music in smaller and more manageable chunks. But the time it takes to create an album ends up being a huge built-in benefit. Great music can’t be forced and musicians often need time to develop something they can really stand behind. Writing something and releasing it as soon as possible leaves you at risk for making rushed music that doesn’t reach its potential.
2. Creative and promotional potency gets lost when releases are split up into singles
Putting out an album or even an EP is a big deal for an artist. In terms of creativity, it’s a chance to weave together musical and lyrical ideas into a defining cohesive artistic statement. Music released together like this gives blogs, radio outlets, and traditional press a reason to feature and promote the artists who put the work into making albums and EPs. But when music is split up into singles, this promotional and creative potency gets watered down significantly, even if the released songs are part of a cohesive group of songs. Press and media outlets aren’t used to the ways the music climate is changing and this can be frustrating, but albums and EPs are seen as releases that indicate that an artist is bringing something serious to the table. Putting out music in a way that prioritizes frequent releases over larger cohesive offerings can hurt your chances at finding media coverage and an audience for your work.
3. More music doesn’t necessarily translate to more chances for success
Some artists view releasing new music like putting quarters in a slot machine by hoping each new song will be successful. But prioritizing putting out lots of music over making music that’s actually good and thoughtful are two different things. Listeners want to hear something that grabs and compels them in a meaningful way, and churning out song after song won’t do you any favors unless you’re able to make everything you release solid and filled with artistic integrity. Also, releasing music as often as possible makes it difficult or even impossible to promote your work. Sure, the attention span of your fans is probably a lot shorter than it used to be, but if you keep screaming at them to listen to your new single every month, they might just start tuning you out after a while. This leaves you at risk for putting out great music that never gets heard.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.