Albums are for fans. Singles are for newbies.

By Bob Lefsetz

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.

Visit the archive: