There’s been a strange phenomenon among many musical artists in the recent years where they’ve been wanting to release music quickly and whenever they feel like it. I’m unsure of what exactly started this idea but I do have a hunch it began with music streaming services. With music streaming now being more popular than ever before, it’s easy for artists to feel the pressure of getting their stream count up and having material to put up on those platforms. With stream counts being used more of a statistical component than pure album sales these days, it’s understandable that always having something to promote, even if it’s just a single every few months, keeps the artists relevant and contansantly in the know. Yet, this causes some extreme problems, not only in the short run but in the artists career in the long run that many may not have considered. Now, before I begin, I’d also just like to get this out there: I’m not going to be talking about any particular person specifically, mainly because I’ve been seeing this among many different artists and genres. Also, this isn’t meant to be a hateful post of any kind and name dropping is just unnecessary.
To start this discussion, let’s take the phrase “quality over quantity” into consideration. We always stress the fact that it’s better to have one great friend instead of a group of them that you don’t really like, or that it’s more efficient to pay more for one great item (a phone charger, so to say) rather than multiple cheaper versions of said item. With that being said, it seems that these artists who keep wanting to release music at any time don’t think about the quality of their work often. Not giving yourself enough time to work on a project because of meeting deadlines whether it be personal or professional has proved to fail many times. There’s also the possibility of running out of ideas, or causing major stress because you can’t think of any ideas, or just throwing things together because they seem to work without actually analyzing the end goal.
A rewarding end goal, whether it be a number one album or just a successful tour, is best found in some sort of structure. However, artists for ages have complained about the redundancy of the cycles of the music industry. The album cycle is especially one that most are not fond if, where the formula is single, album, tour, repeat. I can understand this monotony at times because I am also a person who enjoys change and would always prefer to have the opportunity to do whatever I want, whenever I want. But there’s a reason why this kind of structure works, despite it’s repetitive nature at times. The idea of releasing a few singles, some music videos, a full length album, touring for said album, then taking a break and starting all over again is tiring, monotonous, and sometimes can become uninspiring. However, it does have some major perks. It keeps the consistency of the artists work, centralizes their ideas and gives fans some structure as well as to which direction they can expect the artist to head it. Putting out sporadic singles and multiple records within the same time frame creates a lot of confusion from the get go. If the artist tours, which album will it be in support of? All of then maybe, but then how does that work when it comes to naming the tour, designing merchandise or creating a marketing plan in general? In terms of singles, it wouldn’t be too much of an issue if they’re all relatively similar to one another. But if they’re inspired by different genres and all have a different vibe to them, confusion ensues about who the artist is trying to be. Trying out new ideas and genres is amazing and shows growth and learning, yet if it’s done in a spazzy way without structure around it, the listeners are left wondering what exactly they’re trying to go for. Consistency is key and consistency is kept by having some sort of structure, not just putting projects out there because you “feel like it”.
This leads us to the topic of inconsistency. Naturally we like to organize things and put them in a box at times but let’s remember that that isn’t always a bad thing. It builds a sense of community and with music especially helps us relate to the artist. More importantly in this day and age, we focus a lot on so called “eras” where we can collectively organize themes, interviews, and live shows as well. There’s no need to fit a certain mold but it is nice to be able to experience a certain idea to its full potential, instead of just jumping from one thing to the next, and there are ways to gracefully move from era to era without being so messy. Inconsistency in any sort of work leaves a sloppy image of who you are and moving too quickly through ideas leads listeners astray from the central ideas the artists is trying to portray. It also doesn’t give artsits enough time to really reflect on what they can imporive on and where they really want to go with their music, hindering their evolution in the future.
Further more, confused fans can easily become irritated fans, and fans that are constantly being given new output at a such a fast rate will soon become to expect that at all times. Firstly, constanty shoving material down people’s throats may make the artist seem like they’re trying too hard to stay relevant or like they’re aimlessly throwing darts in the dark and hoping something will stick. On the other hand, there are die hard fans out there who wouldn’t mind this at all. They will mind, however, when you’ve been putting out new material every few weeks and suddenly burn yourself out to the point where you can only release something every few years. With the increase in expectations there comes the decrease in generating excitement. If an artist hasn’t released any material in years as opposed to a few months, the fan base will obviously be looking forward to it more than if they we’re contstantly given new music. It’s no wonder why artists will take plenty of time off, abstain from talking about new material and then come back with clues and teasers about new music; trust me, it’s more than just a marketing ploy.
Although this may come off as a tight set of rules, there are a few exceptions I have. Collaborations are huge nowadays and it’s really cool to hear multiple artists on a track that maybe you wouldn’t expect at first, or a quick song two artists put together just for fun. Mixtapes are also a great thing that provide a little blueprint of what the artist is capable of. Promotional singles for things like movie soundtracks are another great crative outlet and can become great singles, without any other album or project assosicated with them.
Great things are worth waiting for and taking the time to release a full effort project is something that’s so important. Patience is a virtue, let’s not forget that.