It’s no secret that we live in an information- and content-driven world. Capturing the attention of your audience isn't easy when there's a constant flurry of other artists marketing towards the same audience. And with social media being a primary destination for you to reach your fans, one has to wonder what's necessary in order to develop and maintain a devoted fanbase.
Some thrive when they're granted longer periods of time to experiment with their creative process. Others get in a rhythm by releasing new material on a consistent basis. But regardless of what side of the pendulum comes more naturally to you, many artists have been shifting toward the latter strategy, with Twitter mentions becoming more important than staying quiet yet busy in the studio.
So the ultimate question remains: which approach to releasing music is the best for reaching (and maintaining) a larger audience, and becoming successful? As with most decisions, there are pros and cons to each strategy, but achieving a balance between both is usually the way to go.
Releasing less music more frequently
The advantages of a steady output are pretty clear. Just look at any company that consistently reaches you with their advertising. Releasing less music more frequently – say, a new song every month – can mean more consistent attention from blogs and fans alike. Always having fresh content to share will naturally help increase your social media following, too. These are all great things. However, there is such a thing as oversaturation and crossing over into spam territory in the eyes of your fans, especially if the quality of the music shows little growth.
This brings us to the greatest risk of releasing too much music: dropping tracks just for the sake of it. When you do this, it shows you're not taking the time to focus on an organized marketing plan, and that you don't have the desire to examine your progression as an artist. If you're able to quickly conjure up complete tracks and release them in an orderly fashion, all the power to you, but make sure you've got a long-term game plan, too.
Releasing more music less frequently
On the flip side, it takes discipline to spend several months simply creating rather than appeasing public outcries for new music (or, more likely if you're a newer artist, risking being forgotten about). By taking this more traditional route to releasing music, it becomes even more important to make the most of your opportunities when you have them, because you don't have as many chances to make an impact.
There will always be pressure to show off how you've evolved as an artist with your next album, especially when you see your peers making great strides. But keep in mind that once you win fans over with your initial body of work, you've earned the time you need to make your next move. As hard as it is to stay patient on the sidelines, stay the course and be diligent in building the foundation of your long-term vision.
Finding the right balance
The recipe for success that incorporates the advantages of both release strategies? Take as much time as you need to release a body of work that you're truly proud of. From there, grow your fanbase by performing, build organic relationships with people who share similar goals as you, maintain a consistent presence on social media, and release at least some sort of new content between album cycles – a single, a cover video, whatever makes sense for you – to give people something new to look forward to and enjoy.
Eric Bernsen is a marketing/public relations professional and music journalist who specializes in the genre of hip-hop. You can find more of his work at HITPmusic.com (where he is an editor/writer) as well as HipHop-N-More.com, where he contributes album reviews. Follow Eric on Twitter @ebernsen.