Things have become different for the music industry with the dawn of streaming platforms like Spotify and Pandora. It is no surprise that many uninitiated artists are making mistakes when it comes to releasing and structuring their marketing around music. That is because they’re following the way the old music industry model used to work. On today’s show, Bree Noble talks about the biggest mistake that artists make when it comes to releasing music. As they say, out with the old, in with the new!
Listen to the podcast here
Avoid This Biggest Mistake Musicians Make When Releasing Music
In this episode, we are talking about the biggest mistake that I see artists make when it comes to releasing music. I want to be completely fair to you as musicians that there is a good reason that you’re making this mistake. It’s based upon the way the old music industry model used to work, but we are in the new music industry. Things are different. I want to make sure that you understand how things work and why you might be making this mistake if you’re still thinking in the old model, or you don’t realize how the new model works. As you probably know, love it or hate it, we are in the streaming era. A lot of people discover music on streaming platforms, whether it is Spotify. I’m a big Spotify user myself, but there are other streaming platforms as well like Pandora, Deezer, TIDAL, Apple Music, and all the places where people discover music nowadays.
That is something important that we need to keep in mind when we’re thinking about the way that we release music and the way that we structure our marketing around music because of this new model. In order to understand the difference in how things have changed, let’s talk about how it used to work. Back in the ‘80s, when I was obsessed with new music and always learning about new music, I was obsessed with the radio because it was almost the only way you could discover new music other than word of mouth. There was no internet. Nobody could be talking about new music on social media. There was no streaming. The way you discovered new music is you listen to the radio. If the radio played a song and you got to hear it, then that would be the way you would discover new music. The radio was a huge gatekeeper. That was the only way that people would have a chance to discover new music. The labels owned the radio.
Most people were releasing albums or EP back in the ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000s was that you release your album and it goes into stores. People generally didn’t walk into a store unless they already knew you as an artist. Maybe they would go in and go, “This is the new Bree Noble album. I’m excited. I’m going to buy it,” but that was only for artists that already had a fan base. If you don’t have a fan base yet, or not that many people know you, then people wouldn’t walk into a store and buy your album. I do remember how excited I was in the ‘90s when it started to be popular to have those CD listening bars. In fact, I remember in college when I was in an entrepreneurial class, we had to do a project to come up with a business and that was my thing. A year later, that happened. I was like, “People need to be able to listen to music before they buy it. The only way they’re discovering stuff is on the radio. How else can they discover music?” Back then, my idea was listening bars.With the power of social media, each single that you release enables you to tell a story and get people involved. Click To Tweet
That did come to pass. I was like, “I should have done that idea when I saw it happen.” Obviously, it didn’t last that long because then streaming came in and what need do we have for CD listening bars? When you went into the store, you didn’t necessarily know what to buy, unless you had heard things on the radio. In the old model, they would release the album first and then they would start releasing singles to radio. In doing that, people would listen to the radio, hear a song and be like, “I like this artist.” Sometimes they’d go out and buy the single because they were available. I have my old box of record singles from the ‘80s and I love them, but I don’t listen to them anymore because there’s no way to listen to them. Nobody buys singles. I remember the whole CD single craze, which I thought was weird. I never bought cassette singles or CD singles.
Back in the day, you could buy a single, but most of the time, the point of getting a song on the radio was to get people to buy the album. Usually, you hear one song on the radio and it’s like, “Is that enough to get me to buy the whole album? I don’t know if I’m going to like all of the songs because I can’t listen to them in advance. Maybe not.” Maybe a few people do and so then they release another song. Hopefully, they get it on the radio and you get to hear it. You’re then compounding, “I like that first song. I like another song. It might be worth it for me to spend $15 and buy an album.” They usually release another song. By this time, if you have that many hits that got on the radio, you’re probably going to get a lot of album sales. Most of the time, you’re lucky if you could get one song on the radio. That would drive a few sales, but not as many.
Maybe it might get people aware of you so then the next time you released an album, those people’s ears would perk up when they heard another song from you. Since they knew that they liked the previous one from the previous album, they might be then more likely to buy the album off of one song. That was the system that they had. The promotion of an album began after the album was released because that was the only option that they had. There was no internet. There was no other way to reach people through streaming. That was how it worked. After all that background, the reason I told you all of this is because the mistake that people are making now is that they are thinking in this old model and they are acting as if the promotion for an album starts after the album is released. That is not what we should be doing now. We have many different tools, such a different mindset of listeners and discoverers of the music of how they discover artists and music and start following and supporting artists’ careers. It’s different from that way.
The big mistake is that people are putting out music and then they start their promotional campaign. They’re thinking, “I’m going to start taking that music and getting it in front of people and starting to build a fan base around that music.” That is missing many opportunities if you do it that way because there are many ways that we can take advantage of creating a season of releases before we even get to the full album. We can build that momentum, get people excited about the full release. If we’re not doing that, we are not taking advantage of many amazing free tools that we have nowadays to create that build, to get fans on board before we even get the release, and even get a bunch of new fans that are excited about the album that’s coming out. They want to preorder it and you can make some money that way.
I want to explain how this works in the new music industry. I wish I had visuals, but I have a masterclass on how to confidently plan and execute your next release without overwhelm or regretting missed opportunities. It is a free masterclass where I go through this plus two other mistakes artists are making and show you the framework that I recommend for releasing your album. You can go to RockYourNextRelease.com to check that out. If I had my visuals, I would show you that in the new music industry, you have many more opportunities to bring on fans throughout the process. You would see how that compounds exponentially, which I think is exciting. What you can do is release singles before you release the full album or EP.
Those give you opportunities to get that out to new people on social media to use the power of platforms like Spotify. I know we have so many streaming platforms, but I like to use Spotify as an example, because I love the things that they do to help artists that you might not even realize that would work for you if you took advantage of them. One thing that happens is anytime someone follows you on Spotify, they get a notification whenever you release something new and your new release single goes into their Release Radar. Spotify does this all for you for free. It helps them because of the algorithm of they’re giving people what they want because they know people have liked you as an artist. Therefore, when they serve more of you to those people, they’re going to love it.
It helps Spotify, but it also helps you. For example, if I follow an artist and then they release something new, I get an email right in my inbox saying, “An artist that you love just released new music.” Number one, I get that. Number two, when I go into my Release Radar, which I like to do every Friday because I love discovering new music by artists that I like, then they will serve that up to me. Not only that but if I have liked artists that are similar to you, they might also serve that to me in Release Radar or Discover Weekly. They might tell me, “This is an artist similar to this other artist that you liked.” That is one way that you can use singles to get new people to love your music.Every opportunity that you have to talk about something different around your album release can only help you. Click To Tweet
Even if maybe they didn’t follow you on Spotify, but they listened to your music in the past, Spotify would also take that into account when serving stuff up on playlists, like Release Radar and Discover weekly. Also, if you got your singles into playlists on Spotify, there are the big Spotify curated ones that are hard to get into, but there are also individuals who curate playlists. If you are able to get onto some of those playlists, that will also expose you to a bunch of new people that might continue to follow you and get served up future releases. There’s that, as well as the big Spotify curated playlists, which are hard to get onto, but every time that we do a release, we all get an opportunity to submit one song.
This is one reason why I suggest submitting three singles before you submit your entire album for release because each time that you do a release, you get a submission to the Spotify curators to see if it would be a good fit for one of their playlists. Although they’re getting thousands of submissions every day for this, if you are chosen for their playlist, that could be huge. The more opportunities that you have to get in front of the Spotify curators with your music, the better. Why not release three singles before you release the full album. With the power of social media, with each single that you release, you’re able to tell a story around that and get people involved. I’ve seen people creating hashtags for their singles. If their singles have a message behind it, get people on the hashtag bandwagon and start posting it with that hashtag, which is cool.
You can create a whole story behind the song and do videos on Facebook and YouTube. You can do acoustic live performances of that song to get people excited about the actual studio release. There are many things you can do. As far as I’m concerned, every opportunity that you have to talk about something different around your album release, that can only help you. The thing that happens is when you release an album, if you go ahead and release your album, then it’s much harder to talk about the individual songs. You’re saying the same story over and over again about your album. Whereas if you can focus individually on a song as a release, there’s so much more opportunity for you to talk about how you created that song, why you created that song, the story behind it, and do some different kinds of performances of that song versus trying to do that stuff around the full album release only.
It just spreads out your ability to promote. That’s always a good thing because the more times we can get in front of an audience with a little bit different message instead of talking about the same thing over and over again, the better. If I was able to show you my visual, you would see how with every single release, you bring new people on board and get new people excited about your music. That compounds because all of your new single releases are put in front of those people again. You have that stickiness of social media and of the streaming platforms that you didn’t have in the old music industry. With radio, once a song had gone through its cycle of being on the radio and being on the top 40 and popular and all that, you didn’t hear it again.
Sometimes they would play old songs occasionally, but only a few. You’d be like, “Remember that song that came out years ago, how can I find that song again? I forgot about it.” That is not how the new music industry works. We can keep rediscovering, even things that are old. If you release a single and maybe you’re on your third single, and somebody likes the third one and starts following you, Spotify might serve them one of your older releases in their Discover Weekly. They’re like, “If you liked this newer song from this person, maybe you missed out on this older one because you didn’t know about that artist yet.” I know sometimes we think of Spotify and streaming platforms as the villain and trying to take all of our money and not giving us enough money for what we do.
I get that, but I think people are not seeing all the benefits and all the built-in things that they do to help us that are free. Keep that in mind, whenever you’re releasing music that you need to set yourself up to take advantage of all these amazing opportunities that are in front of you with the way that algorithms and streaming work. I know sometimes we can think, “It’s creepy. They’re following me. They know what I do.” From the artist’s perspective, we love that they do that because they are following our followers and making sure that they know all about what we’re doing. They know that they liked what we’re doing. You have to think about it from an advertiser’s perspective versus an individual perspective. We love that they are keeping up with what people like and trying to serve them more of it because that only helps us.
If you want to see those visuals and find out about the two other big mistakes that I know that artists are making when it comes to releasing music and learn about my Rock Your Next Release framework so you can learn how to confidently plan and execute your next release so you don’t miss out on important opportunities when it comes to promotion and income, go over to RockYourNextRelease.com and check out my free masterclass. While you’re watching the class, be sure to put any questions that come up throughout into the question box. I will be sure to answer them personally. Releasing music is something I am super passionate about and I have come to specialize in. I’ll be talking more about ways that you can benefit from the new music industry when it comes to your releases on future episodes.