EP’s and Albums can wait
The music business and access to music has changed so much even over the last couple of years, with a massive swing towards streaming. People want access to music quickly and easily; that is reflected in reduced CD sales too. There is an upswing in the vinyl market, which I’ll come back to why I think that’s happening in a moment!
There are approximately 60,000 new uploads to Spotify every day!
You cannot catch up!
There are over 500 Hours of content added EVERY MINUTE to YouTube
The maths is really against you!
So the consumer never had it so good, well had so much choice! Therefore what you have to offer needs to stand out, otherwise it will disappear into that musical jungle with little help of people finding it unless you tell them.
Are albums and EP’s really a redundant format?
Songs have unfortunately also become a disposable commodity along with a lot of other things. We no longer have to commit to buy the CD or even the download. If we don’t like something, we can skip to the next track. Because of this we get bored of the average and want exciting music more often. In my mind this is in opposition to both the Album and EP format, unless you have a firmly established fan base.
Pick and Choose
I think the days of people sitting down and listening to an album are long gone. People pick and choose who and what they like, and the playlist has become the new king.
Even when I think back to buying a new vinyl record or CD, I would always listen the whole way through, butvery quickly I knew which songs were my favourites and mostly only played them. People still do this now, but across artists, and even genres on their personal playlists.
Albums need time to write
If you spend a lot of time working on an album there becomes a danger people ‘forget’ who you are because you are not regularly releasing new material. You might need to come up with another way to continue to keep your fans engaged and listening to what you already have out there while you work on new stuff.
For an artist, I would suggest if you embark on an album project there is also a danger of getting too lost in the process to the point that you might not finish it at all. If you plan to release an album, have a very clear goal of number of songs and the timetable to get through the work. This doesn’t stop you being creative.
If you have a body of work you want to share, I would strongly suggest considering an EP or couple of EP’s. It keeps the focus shorter, and makes the task easier.
Because of these things I would say it’s way better to release songs as you go as singles. It gives regular opportunities to have something new to be posting about on social media; I think talking about the new songs keeps people interested. In the current streaming market I don’t see the benefit of having an EP or album online. Physical CDs / vinyls maybe, but who really wants those anymore?
Why the resurgence for vinyl?
Possibly this is to do with quality. Vinyl audio is better quality than a squashed MP3 file, but nothing beats CD quality. By choosing streaming, we have already put sound quality as a secondary priority. The vinyl format does allow us to experience beautiful artwork in a tactile format. As for cassettes’s I personally don’t understand why any one would buy one these days. It’s a extremely unversatile format — you can’t skip, they can stretch. They were great for the car ‘back in the day’, but we were quick to move to CD’s and multi CD changers.
I’ve started to notice people talking about HD music. If that is a real goal, then we must choose the CD, because technically they are higher replication quality than a vinyl.
Physical copies make good merch
If I was at a gig and the artist said you can get all my music online, or buy a CD afterwards for £5, I reckon most would not buy the CD — why? — because they can get home and stream everything released on Spotify, and if they are on Spotify free or sat on their WIFI — they don’t even have to pay.
Make the physical unique
I think the physical format at a gig could work if you have something on it that they can’t get anywhere else — then the audience feels like they are special and have access to something no one else does. Especially if you played them that extra song at the gig and they loved it.
Skipping to the last track
In my humble opinion, I would recommend releasing singles, perhaps consider a special physical EP with an extra track that is not released online.
If you have the desire to write and release an album, I’m not saying don’t, but do seriously consider the time and dedication required to complete that body of work. If you want to achieve that for your own satisfaction, then go for it.
I hope this has been helpful and maybe thrown up some opinions and ideas you had’nt thought of.