As the technologies develop and have become readily available to us, independent artists have more decisions to make. As if you are not doing enough already. When you are a freelancer, (and this goes for any type of freelance gigs) 90% of the job is cumbersome tasks one must to do in order to make the last 10% possible, which is the fun part. In musicians’ cases this 10% consists of practicing, composing, performing, and any other activities that actually bring you joy.
Up until recently, CD has been the medium of choice if you want to disseminate your music. Before that, cassette and records (or vinyls as young people call them now, lol) were what we dealt with. These hardware created time restrictions. They can only contain so much information. This made it a standard practice for musicians to distribute their music/ideas in an album format. Each album contains certain numbers of songs/tunes and the whole thing has an overarching title and theme.
For the past probably 25 years or so, CD has been the way and artists didn’t have to think twice about that. Everyone recorded the set of tunes at a recording studio and have them mixed and mastered. Everyone did it that way. Standard way. Some album made a whole lot of sense. Yes, these tunes need to be listened to together in this particular order and I get it. I get the intention of the artist and there is a clear vision behind the product. Some others are just collections of tunes that really made little sense to be presented together aside from the fact that that’s how it’s done.
We have other options now. How you present/package your music should be part of your consideration. For example. Ben Wendel presented SEASONS via YouTube in 2015. He’d released one video per month for 12 month. There was a theme and the project had a vibe and videos were super polished and it got a lot of attention. So much so that New York Times picked it as one of the 10 best “albums” of 2015. Since then, Ben has recorded an actual album and now the SEASONS band is touring, although original SEASONS was a series of duos. Ben has communicated his ideas well and they took.
Another thing to consider is that people are not buying CDs anymore. Most laptops come without CD/DVD drive and I don’t think people buy CD players anymore. Music is being consumed online and audience are not listening to the music in an album format even if you have put it together that way and thoughtfully at that. So then, you can just put out a single song if that is what you want to do.
You don’t have to do things “standard” way anymore. Technology affords artists options and freedom (is it?) that were not even thinkable before. I think, at the end of the day, what this means is that one has to be very clear about what it is to be communicated. Ideas and visions have to stand strong and lead rest of the process, not the other way around. And yes, there are newfangled ways to do things but you also need to know that you don’t have to use them. Video thing made sense for Ben. Does it for you? I think the question to ask is, is this the best way for me to communicate what I want to say? Is this the most effective way for me to reach the people I want to reach? Do these tunes have to be heard together or do I just have one song in me at this time? Cookie cutter ways are not cutting anymore. And you got a lot of decisions to make.