Monday, May 20, 2013

6 Reasons To Release Fewer Songs More Often

How many songs should I record?

This isn't a question I get asked very much, but I wish it was :) There are a lot of bands coming into the studio recently recording 10, 12 even 15 songs. That is good news for me and the studio, but not so much good news for the bands. As soon as I find out a new band wants to record more than 4-5 songs especially a new band, I immediately try to talk them out of it. I'm probably the worst recording studio salesman in the world - hahaha - but it really doesn't help to record a large amount of songs these days and here's some reasons why:

1. You need to develop your sound
New bands and bands which have gone through major member changes especially need to develop their sound. There is no better way to develop your sound than recording 3-4 songs and then really analyzing them. Usually a band's first songs are all over the place without any strong cohesiveness or style. This is good because you (or even better, your audience) may gravitate to one or two songs more than the rest. This gives you the opportunity to explore what makes those songs more appealing and try to introduce more elements from them into your other songs.

2. You need to develop your songs
Many times if there is a cohesive style, the songs themselves may be rather flat and under developed, either from the point of view of you, as a band/artist, or from the perspective of the audience. At last count there are exactly 1 gazzilion active bands/artists on the planet right now. To stand out, you need to make your songs as good as they can be. Maybe there are 'holes' in the song - parts which don't hold the attention of the listener - parts which perhaps need re-writing or additions. Issues like these are much easier to address when dealing with a smaller batches of songs. Trying to fill out and refine even 6+ songs is a major undertaking both from the creative side and especially from the budget/money side if the problems don't crop up until after the recording process begins.

3. Most people don't listen to LPs front to back anymore
The way people consume music has changed radically in the past 10-15 years. Spotify, Pandora and YouTube have changed the way people are listening to music. They are hearing mixes of various artists and not just jamming a whole record as much anymore. This is especially true if the artist is new or more unknown. You'll have a decent shot at getting people to hear 1 song. If the song is good and keeps the listeners attention, they might listen to 2 songs. If after those first 2 amazing songs, you become their new favorite band, they might listen to 3-4 songs, but almost nobody will listen to 6+ songs in one sitting from a new or local band.

4. Stay more in touch with your audience by recording fewer songs more often
Writing, practicing, recording and releasing songs takes time, especially if you are refining them to be as great as they can be. This process for 8+ songs could easily take over a year. In that case you have only one major thing to talk about on the Facebooks/Twitters/Internets for 12-18 months. If you record 3-4 songs every 3-6 months you will have 3-5 'big' things to talk about in the same amount of time. More things to talk about = more opportunities to stay fresh in the minds of your listeners/likers/followers/fans.

5. More releases means more feedback

You always want to be flexible. Its harder to tweak your style into something that could ultimately  prove to be much more successful if you're entrenched in a 12-18 month writing/release process. I believe the most important thing that the immediacy of the internet has done is given a voice to listeners/likers/followers/fans, whether that means something like public outcry changing the ending of a major video game release like Mass Effect 3 or gently guiding a local band into a more appealing direction, this public feedback mechanism is unique to this time and should definitely be taken advantage of. I'm not saying you have to 'beta-test' your songs by posting works in progress for critique (though that is pretty cool), but by having a shorter release schedule you'll have more opportunities to get feedback to tweak to (or ignore ;) )

6. The dark side
There are a lot of pressures and emotions that go into being in a band. Maybe the band chemistry changes and a member becomes problematic, maybe someone has to move away, maybe you don't like the way someone smells anymore, maybe life just happens and someone has to leave or worse yet the whole project disbands. Even if you are on the same page with goals from the beginning, doesn't mean it will stay like that. This creates a much, much larger problem if you're working on a 6+ song release on a 12+ month schedule. There is a lot more wasted time and money chucking out an LP that has a lead vocalist that just quit compared to just adapting a new member to the next set of 3 or 4 songs. Just remember bands are like having a relationship with 2+ more people and has the same kind of volatility that goes along with any other close relationship.

1 comment: