How Often Should I Release Music?

how often should i release music

I’m tackling some of your most frequently asked music marketing questions. One that often comes up is “How often should I release new music?” Streaming services are now the preferred format. So the strategy discussed here is how frequently you should release new tracks or singles, rather than EP’s or albums. I’ve talked about singles vs albums in another post.

What’s the Magic Number? – Just How Often Should You Release Music?

Many of you are looking for a formula or “sweet spot” for how many weeks apart should I release a new song.  Others are asking what is the best day to release new music? OK, I’ll play along, because I too want to end the guessing game. But just understand, there isn’t a “cheat code” or some magic number.

There is an algorithm benefit to releasing singles in a “drip” fashion. I would tell you 6 weeks is the best time frame between new tracks. It’s manageable to drip tracks out every 6 weeks, and do a good job of promoting them, and not slacking off. That would be 8 or 9 tracks a year. But by no means am I saying you “need” to do this, or it’s not enough if you don’t.

Releasing Music More Frequently

I’m also fine with releasing tracks even more frequently than that, if you have the resources and the creative output. But listen to your audience, and watch the numbers. If you see a decline, it means you are over-doing it and your fans don’t want new tracks from you so often. You also don’t want to burn out your fans with too much promotion.

I assume if you are using this “fire hose” strategy, that you are trying to get as many chances in the algorithms (and with playlist curators) to have your track catch fire. And I assume after you achieved that and had a track “blow up”, you would spend some time letting that track breathe and grow. You should. I would stop this relentless strategy, and backfill as much promotion around your “hit” as possible. I would also probably clean up your discography page if there are tons of singles there crowding up your profile. If some of those tracks didn’t perform well, take them down. Keep new fans focused on your strongest music.

Releasing Songs Four Times Per Year

It’s totally fine for artists to release music less frequently. But I would say every artist should consider doing four track development campaigns a year. So one new song every 3 months. This is a quality over quantity approach, and I like it. I teach my full strategy inside Band Builder Academy, and my members know exactly where I’m going with this track campaign approach, because it’s working for them. One new track every three months is actually the minimum to keep the algorithms working for you.

How Often Should I Release an Album or EP?

Record labels traditionally sign an artists for 4 or 5 albums and plan to release an album every 18 to 24 months. That’s called the “traditional album cycle”. EP’s usually wouldn’t count towards one of those albums, and EP’s are used mostly as a development tool for new artists. 

The idea with an EP is that it’s easy for potential fans to get a small sampling of your music (20 minutes) before committing to a long playing album. Also, EPs are priced lower, so there is less risk to take on a new artist’s EP. The first part still holds true, even in this digital age. Who’s really looking for 45 minutes of music from a brand new artist? 

For unsigned artists using digital distribution, I recommend releasing singles, and then later packaging them into an EP or Album. In this post you can learn more about the benefits of albums and which types of artists should use an album strategy. I think one or two EP’s a year is fine, and one album every 18 months is also a good timeframe. 

Another interesting strategy that is building steam on Spotify & Apple is “stacking singles”. I won’t detail that strategy here, but we are discussing it in Band Builder Academy.

What’s the Best Day to Release Music?

Friday is the short answer. In 2015, the global music community decided to synchronize release days around the world and made Friday’s officially New Music Friday. 95% of major releases come out on Fridays, so that is when most digital services update their new music playlists.

Interestingly, Monday is the best day for streaming traffic. If you are an independent artist using an aggregator to distribute your music, you can choose any day you want. But if you use a label, major distributor, and have a team, you should do Friday. The only exception would be if there is some important reason you choose a different day. For example, if it lines up with a big event or partnership that is not on a Friday.

I’ve seen indie artists who want to increase their chances of landing official Spotify playlists, choose a Tuesday or Wednesday, just because they think the curator may not be as busy that day of the week. It worked a few times. But I think the day of the week did not matter. If you pitch your music through the Spotify For Artist portal, they will listen and base their curation on the music and story. Day of the week won’t prevent Spotify from playlisting. Other digital services might miss it if the release date is not on a Friday.

Be Flexible in Your Music Release Strategy

There is a benefit in having a regimented schedule for new music releases. You get into a workflow, and each of your track campaigns builds on the next one. It’s a snowball effect. This has a benefit on your social media, email marketing, merchandise sales, and overall footprint. But don’t burn yourself out, or your fans. It’s actually good to take a break from new releases and dry up supply. Create that demand. Come back with a fresh approach after some time off.

But just because you are not releasing new music doesn’t mean you take a break from communicating with your audience and growing your brand. You can repurpose your best performing songs and promote those to reach new audiences. Do lead generation. I also teach this in the Academy. Don’t let your audience go cold. 

Discuss

Tell me below what is working for you? How often do you release music? What questions do you have?

Todd McCarty

4 Comments on “How Often Should I Release Music?”

  1. Hey, great post! For the past few years I was releasing one-off singles without any kind of promotion or strategy. This year I packaged all those singles into an “album” to make room for two EPs I’ve been working on. Not an ideal situation, but I definitely had to clean up the discography page! I released the first new single last week and have been playing it up on socials, pitching to playlists, running Facebook ads, and generating PR. Through this activity, Accept Me by Electric Sol found its way onto your Indie/Pop/Folk playlist—thank you!—and about nine others so far. The promotion seems to be helping the song find an audience. In less than a week, more people have listened to that one song than all my other music combined, so it makes a difference when you take things seriously. The next single is set to drop on August 21. It’s still filtering its way to Spotify via DistroKid, so as soon as it’s available I’ll pitch it to Spotify. That process is still a bit of a mystery to me in terms of what kind of story you’re supposed to tell about the song you’re pitching. Most of the info I’ve seen suggests that the band has to have some real notoriety for the curators to take notice, but I’m going to keep trying. The full EP drops on September 4, with just two additional songs. Currently trying to decide when to start releasing things from the second EP, which is still in production. Thinking about November sometime. Still learning, but it’s a lot more fun to learn by doing! Thanks for all the great info: Just starting to explore all that you have to offer.

    1. Hey Ed, thanks for reading, and for sharing your experience. Good for you for all the preparation and follow through. Each campaign you do will improve on the next.
      Keep checking in for new advice here, and if you’re ready for a real power up, check out Band Builder Academy.
      cheers,
      Todd

  2. Thanks Todd, as usual you’ve ticked all the boxes. I’m releasing a new collaboration with Melba Moore, it’s called Tiempo. The song was written by our Engineer and percussionist Dennis Nieves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.