Releasing New Music
In terms of getting people to pay attention to new music, it's more important how you release your music than it is how your music sounds. That's an odd thought. The key to attracting attention to your new release has less to do with how great the song is or how well the players play, and more to do with whether the news of the release itself motivates someone to listen. This conflicts with my romantic ideal that if the music recording is strong enough people will gravitate toward it. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that in the sea of information it all boils down to how you go about getting people to take notice.
Musicians are well aware of the challenge of gaining attention. Some musicians pay publicists, while others try to get so and so to mention a release with the hope that ushered access to a larger fan base will encourage people to pay attention. Both of these approaches can work (or can fail), but one is expensive and the other involves factors that are not in the release artist's control. Reviews, interviews, videos, and live shows all help to promote physical or digital albums. But what else? I'm wondering how musicians might go further? Can the means of release encourage people to take notice? If you release your new music in a way that involves non-traditional means, that in and of itself could be noteworthy.
An album release happens in a larger narrative context that includes the persona of the artist or band, the story and influences, the message. We can expand this lens to include the means of release as well. The release is not just defined by how the story is written or spoken of, but also the means whereby new music is made public. How far can we take the means? Streaming, downloads, videos, physical albums (CD, vinyl, cassette) are the norm. That's a long list too, and these are the channels most musicians consider. But these release methods also locate the music alongside every other new release of the day, vying for attention.
In popular culture, recorded music is often an accessory to other media, something that supports rather than leads the experience. In other words, music is often embedded in other media in a way that it wasn't when albums were the predominant experience of recorded music. I wonder how that influences the ways we think about releasing new music in the world today. And I wonder if the means of release might be another way to encourage people to take notice.