Steady Wins the Race: You Should Think About Stopping the Album Release Cycle

Jared Mahone's Mixtape Project: 52 Songs in 52 Weeks

This is definitely NOT a new idea by me.  Bob Lefsetz has shouted this for as long as I have read his blogs.  I’m only making a simple observation with this post.  And here it is:

Stop releasing albums.  Start releasing a steady stream of songs instead.

My buddy Jared Mahone is taking this to the extreme by commissioning himself to write, record, and release one song per week for his Mixtape Project, but even a couple songs a month would do.

Here’s why.

1.  It forces you to work on and constantly think about the craft of songwriting.  SO YOUR SONGS GET BETTER.

2.  If forces your audience to stay more engaged with you because they want to hear that next song.

3.  It gives you a reason to stay in the limelight and reach out to your email list whether you are touring or not.

4.  It’s cheaper on the front end.  You don’t need to save up as much cash or take as much time off the road to do it.

Every year for Jakob Freely the cycle was the same.  Write, record, release, tour, tour, tour.  Or at least some variance of that.  We never actually took time off the road.  But we would go, in one case, almost TWO YEARS before releasing new material.

In a world with so many choices, you really can’t afford to play that game anymore.  No one has the attention span to wait around for you. If you’re not there with the new material – it’s a simple search on Google or iTunes or elsewhere and it’s on to the next act.

Instead pop up every week or month with something new.

THEN at the end of the year – compile all the songs and release a physical version of the tunes on disc with some value added content like videos, lyrics, photos, a free ticket to an upcoming show, hand-written letter, t-shirt and/or a hug…

Press limited quantities to set yourself up to sell out of the material – then start the cycle over again.

I know…it’s hard to let go.  But what do you have to lose?  Just try it for ONE YEAR.  I bet you would normally wait longer than that to release new material anyway.

And chances are, by the end of the year, if the system just isn’t working for you – YOU’LL HAVE ENOUGH MATERIAL FOR 5 ALBUM RELEASES.

Here’s how you do it:

1.  Set up a subscription based system on your site.  A company like Bandzoogle makes this super duper easy.

2.  Charge a moderate fee.  Mahone charges $20 for a year.  I think this is more than fair.

3.  Start writing.

4.  Make some of the content free from time to time.

5.  Toss in value-added things like exclusive videos of recording sessions, blogs or vlogs talking about song inspiration, podcasts, free tickets or guestlist entry for shows.

The list really goes on and on.  Mahone is even doing a LIVE Mixtape Show with other local acts to kick the year long process off.  In addition to that, he is working on a deal with UndergroundColumbus.com to do a weekly show based around releasing the song and talking about it’s inspiration.

I can’t say enough about it.

The new album release cycle is short.  For indie artists it’s even shorter.  You release a record – maybe two months tops and the excitement surrounding the record is gone.

RELEASE NEW SONGS EVERY WEEK AND THE EXCITEMENT LASTS ALL YEAR.

Bloggers have been building followings like this for years.  Why can’t musicians?  Oh wait, they have been.  Some of us are just late to jump on the train.

Check out Jared Mahone’s Mixtape Project at JaredMahone.com/mixtape-project

Wanna give this a shot?  Shoot me an email a freelymarketing@gmail.com and we’ll brainstorm together.

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Let’s tweet together:  @davemhuffman

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2 Comments on “Steady Wins the Race: You Should Think About Stopping the Album Release Cycle”

  1. sharpmusic Says:

    Great post. I have been debating thiswith myself lately…should I wait to release a collection of songs or should I release them as I do them? I think it would be more fun to release them as I go. Your post gives me the thought that it could be more profitable as well. – Chad http://sharpmusic.wordpress.com


  2. Hey Chad!

    I really think you could approach this from a ton of different angles.

    For example – Jon Foreman of Switchfoot released 4 E.P.’s one year. Each for one of the 4 seasons.

    In that way he still gave people a steady stream of digestible content and probably didn’t have as much pressure to crank out a TON of songs.

    Try experimenting a little maybe.

    This year try releasing a couple different batches of songs and see how your friends/fans react to them.

    Maybe next year try releasing like 2-3 singles a month and see how that goes.

    I think you are correct about the “fun” factor too. THAT IS SO UNDER VALUED in our quest to be full-time musicians. We get so caught up in “making it” that we forget that the pursuit/journey is the best part.

    Basically – my final answer is to “follow your gut” and do what you think will be fun…just like you said.

    Anytime I’ve ever done that, It’s always worked out for me.

    If you want, shoot me an email at freelymarketing@gmail.com and we can brainstorm some more.

    Or we can keep it all here on the comment section…totally up to you.

    Thanks for the comment Chad!


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