Time was you listened to your favorite music radio station who would play a new single from a forthcoming album while keeping you informed of the album release date (which your local record store also typically listed on a sign board weeks in advance in their shop). New album is released, head to record store, buy it, enjoy it, tell your friends. And this is not that long ago, folks.
Today, of course everyone gets their music every which way but loose. Pandora, Spotify, YouTube, iTunes and, yes, still via the radio. What has changed dramatically, of course, are release dates and methods of consumption. Many artists drop music on a whim and with no advance notice (Prince and Beyoncé are famous for this approach), causing ‘buzz and excitement.’ Problem is, for any artist today, once a song is released, it can be pirated and shared in a myriad of ways with no dollars or cents going to the actual artist who created it. It’s why most artists today seem resigned to the fact that they are going to make their bread and butter performing live. Their recorded music is merely a means to that end.
Taylor Swift has teamed with Live Nation to move her fans to purchase her tunes directly from her, incentivizing (and often bundling) them with merchandise and enhanced access to concert tickets and merchandise, including books of her poetry. The approach also serves to cut out scalper profiteers. It’s all about providing fans what they want via platforms you control.
Another example of a newer medium is PledgeMusic, which works to motivate consumers to purchase album downloads weeks before its release in return for exclusive access to such desirables as in-studio video and one or two songs from the LP in advance (sometimes simultaneously with their release to radio). This week I purchased the forthcoming LP from the band Red whose first single I will be treated to tomorrow (along with Rock radio) with the album coming out in late October. I’m also receiving regular status updates on the band and record in the interim. Membership (and respecting the artists enough to pay for their music can have its rewards). Pass the word – preferably sooner rather than later.