Why Artists Should Prioritize Singles Over Albums

Author: GregPublished:

Opting for a full album over singles is one of the biggest mistakes I made in the last decade.

"Don’t release an album!". It may sound paradoxical but opting for a full album over singles is one of the biggest mistakes I made in the last decade. Let's explore why this shift is not just a trend but a smart move for maximizing exposure.

1️⃣ Boost your Spotify game

According to Spotify, in 2019, around 40,000 songs were released per day on their platform. This figure is probably higher today. They have to prioritize, even if it’s cruel. But Spotify's "monthly listenings" is one of the most important metrics in the industry. So you might as well try to maximize it. First, let's understand how the Spotify algorithm works:

When you release a song, the algorithm will add it to the radar of listeners in your niche. It will then check if people skip the song, fully listen to it (maybe several times) or if they add it to their playlists. It will then assign a score which will determine the behavior of the algorithm for your next releases.

  • 📈 If your score is good and if you maintain or try to improve it with each release, Spotify will naturally put you forward 👍
  • 📉 However, if your score is bad and never improves, or gets worse, you risk falling into the abyss of Spotify 👎

2️⃣ Adapt to the shift of music consumption

With the advent of streaming services and the changing dynamics of music consumption, listeners are increasingly gravitating towards singles rather than full albums.
If you release an album, you are increasing the chances to have your songs skipped. Except if you are a really big artist with a hyped fan base, people will unfortunately not listen to your albums because they now listen to playlists.

3️⃣ Don’t waste your efforts

It is difficult to promote 8 songs (or more) just as well as you would a single. So don't throw away all the gems on which you invested time, money, and love ❤️
Release several singles and maximize their potential, taking advantage of each release to gain traction. Focus your marketing efforts, maximize visibility on social media, playlists, and other promotional channels. It's not just about the music; it's about creating a narrative surrounding each release, aka “marketing”.

4️⃣ Play with anticipation and frustration

Releasing singles allows artists to build anticipation and generate buzz around each individual track. Explore the psychology of anticipation, how it keeps the audience engaged, and how the drip-feed of singles can create a prolonged presence in the minds of listeners. Play with the frustration by releasing song trailers, engaging them by posting bits of songs and saying “Hey, should I release this song?” or “Can you help me finish this song?”

5️⃣ Adapting to Shorter Attention Spans

Let's face it – attention spans are shorter than ever 😢
Singles caters to this reality by offering bite-sized content that's easier for listeners to consume. Discuss how a consistent flow of singles keeps artists on the radar, preventing them from fading into the background.

6️⃣ Get feedback and experiment

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. So let’s experiment with different styles without the commitment of an entire album!

Releasing singles will allow you to get feedback from your fan base so you can discuss with the audience, adapt to changing circumstances, what did well or wrong, how you can improve this or that. Whether it’s about the music, the lyrics, the marketing etc.. The more you release, the more you learn. Leverage that feedback loop and you’ll be 5% better after each release.

In a world where exposure and engagement are paramount, the strategic release of music is a powerful tool for emerging artists. By understanding the shifts in music consumption, culture and adapting to the demands of the industry, musicians can create a long lasting impact on their audience 🎸🤘