Bob Lefsetz (www.lefsetz.com) recently wrote a column about albums, why you do them and who they are for. I thought that it would be useful to us all to share it. I had decided that the new paradigm was to just do singles and not make albums anymore but his article and his perspicacity have given me a new take on it. I have decided that I will not only make singles for download as I had planned but I will also recognize the responsibility I have to the people who nurture and support what I do; recognize their expectations and make albums as well. Here's what Bob had to say...
Albums are for fans. Singles are for newbies.
So, if you're nobody, and you're not live-based, focus on the single, that's all
people want. Hook 'em with a few singles and you've suddenly got fans. Who want
more. Does this mean a full-length, with fifteen tracks and seventy eight minutes
of music? Probably not. After all, they've just come to know you. You don't want
to get married after the first date. So, feed 'em three or four tracks. At an
incredibly discounted price on iTunes if you must, a package price. Build slowly.
And whenever you get a good-sized fan base, don't overload them all at once!
Today's albums are incomprehensible. Too long, never mind too expensive. Better to
put out three tracks five times a year than fifteen all at once. Not only do you
maintain your buzz, your audience stays bonded, doesn't go on a hejira somewhere
else, waiting years for your next opus, possibly forgetting you in the interim..
If you've already got a fan base, release that album if you must. But know that
non-fans don't care. And, if they come to care via airplay, old wave media, they
only want THE TRACK! If you learn of an act from a friend, you might want an album.
But if you're dipping your toes, you don't want to get soaking wet!
As for keeping your tracks off iTunes... What are you about, money or a career?
AC/DC is gonna sell a whopping number of albums at Wal-Mart, but they've got no buzz
online at the iTunes Store, their album and its single tracks don't appear on the
chart, never mind front page advertising. If you want to play an untelevised World
Series, be my guest. But why play outside the stadium, by yourself. Some people
would rather play basketball in Europe for more money, but most want the glory, and
will stay here in the U.S.A. (Furthermore, the salary might be less, but the
endorsements, the peripheral income, adds up.) You can reach those who truly care
outside of iTunes, but the casual user, newbies, they're not gonna be affected,
they're gonna be completely out of the loop, which is going to hurt you in the long
run. iTunes is the Big Kahuna, why would you want to play outside its parameters?
So if you're making an album, don't think of world domination. Think of satiating
your fans. If you must, include a catchy single for radio airplay. But it probably
won't get airplay and will quite possibly alienate your core audience. If you're
only about the core, don't sell out, feed your homies. But, if you want someone
new, sell individual tracks online, allow people a taste. Better yet, give them a
taste for free, just like dope dealers. If you're purveying really good shit,
people will want more and will get hooked.
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