OK, so that got your attention. But keep in mind we said “record” business, not “recorded music” business. We may be entering a new renaissance in the recorded music business but the actual “physical” recording may not be part of it.
Unless you are touring, there is not really a reason to spend your initial money making a physical album these days. Again, for those of you who do a lot of live work a physical CD to sell is crucial! It’s a money maker, and people still LOVE buying them when they see you and supporting you.
The problem is that only about 5% of artists get out and sing in front of people even monthly.
We hear it over and over again from everyone in the music business: we are in a singles culture again. Just like the 50s, then albums became the rage in the 60s and 70s, then the single came back in the 80s, then went away for all the CD years practically. Now we are in a singles culture again, mainly because you can get any song you want any time you want from many different services and devices.
We are now advising all new artists, especially those who haven’t recorded at all before, to work on a great song at a time, market that song, and build a brand first using singles, social media, videos, and a web presence. It just makes the most sense, and the most cents! Why spend $10-15k on an album you’re not going to market? And how can you market an album if you aren’t doing anything with it?
Here are some reasons why we are now big believers in the single and marketing plan.
Bookings are Scarce
Yes I know it’s not easy to get bookings, and that’s another reason it makes more sense to work on singles. One of the main questions I get is “How do I find a booking agent?” My reply is they don’t exist, and certainly not for indies starting out, or artists not already commanding big dollar engagements. And if you had those you wouldn’t NEED a booking agent would you?
And if you don’t have bookings as I said above, there’s really no place in this day and age to sell a CD. So one of the reasons you convinced yourself to make it (because it would sell and make the money back you spent making it) is basically not available since CDs are just not a big seller online and you’re not selling any at shows.
Good Songs are Scarce
To be honest we have filled lots of albums up with songs that weren’t maybe that great, but because the artist wrote them and felt strongly about them, we included a very well produced version of it. Working on one song at a time lets us really focus on making sure that song is great.
Or we can work with our friends at Word or Centricity and get great songs that artists can sing. This has proven to be a very popular way to both help new artists AND stay involved with the larger labels and publishers.
Building a Brand is Crucial
You could indeed get to a place where there is demand for your music, but first you must create that demand. There has to be an engine in place to market the song, and that engine is a brand with folks following it. Not only is a brand important so the music has a reason to exist, but it really makes a difference in people’s lives. I truly believe that or I would only be making my own music.
(Long article, and you like the idea already…Check out our new “Single, Branding, and Promotion” Plan that is now available. Click here!)
Video is King
Another thing we really believe in is video. We think making a single, then making a video and promoting on Facebook and YouTube gives you, the artist, every bit of marketing power that a larger label has. They use the same tools, and the tools are basically free to use. Sure you can throw money at it to boost it for more views, but everyone of you has an audience of family, friends, and fans that grow with every video and post. Facebook even lets us grow your audience to friends of friends, and friends of family. These can become lifelong fans of your brand, message, and ministry!
One Song at a Time is Cheaper (and can still be an album!)
Duh. But it also lets you do real ministry, record more often, and reach people sooner than waiting until 10 songs are finished and you’ve spent all that money.
Do a song every few months and in a year (which sometimes is how long it takes us to put a whole project together anyway) you can package them together into an EP or CD product. Then you have the best of both worlds: a brand built with great songs and marketing, and a CD to sell once the brand gets going, or just to use as calling cards or legitimacy when you introduce yourself to prospective fans, possible gigs, or people in the business.
I Still Love Full Albums
Remember, most of us in Nashville are from a generation that would buy a record LP, take it home and sit and do nothing but listen to it all the way through while reading the album art, and then turn it over and experience the second side. There was much less to compete with music listening in those days. There was not one million channels to watch on dozens of devices in our home. We had a TV, and we had a record player. (And the TV only had 3 to 5 channels.)
We will keep making albums. We are releasing two new EPs in the next month on our jazz label, and a Classical Christmas Album this holiday season. We have a 10+ song jazz album also dropping in the spring. We love the CD (and would make vinyl if we could afford it or there was a reason. We would not however make cassettes, yuck!)
But for now, when we meet new artists and they want to record, we will be pushing to develop them with a great song, a moving or fun video, and a marketing plan, and then do it again. If you are already a touring artist, then doing EPs and CDs makes sense of course, and we will always prefer to make a musical statement like that.
Just know that we still love what we do, and want to make sure we are forward facing with the times. And my friends, for most of you that means working on one great song at a time, and sharing it with the world.
If you like this thinking, you may want to check out our new “Single, Branding, and Promotion” program that is now available. Check it out here!
Would love to hear what you think!