Here’s Why Surprise Releases Aren’t A Good Idea For Indie Artists

Indie artists surprise releases image

It’s easy to look at surprise releases from superstars like Drake and Taylor Swift and believe that’s the way music will be dropped on the public in the future, but it might be wise to re-think that strategy if you’re an indie artist. As with so much in the industry, the rules that apply to A-listers don’t necessarily apply to anyone else.

Reverbnation recently posted 4 reasons why surprise releases can be risky for an indie artist. Here’s my take on the strategy.

No Advanced Press

The music business is still one that runs on hype and visibility. An indie artist needs both in order to grow an audience and increase stream rates. While the old 6 week run-up to a release may be outdated, you still need some advanced awareness before you album or single drops in order to maximize its effectiveness in the marketplace.

Your Initial Streaming Numbers Will Look Bad

Your first week streaming numbers are critical to being added to major playlists. Without pre-saves and market awareness, it will take too much time to build to the level of streams that you might be used to, and this will end up hurting the release. Getting the word out takes more time than you think, and even if your fans know that you have new music out, it takes them time to act sometimes.

Sales Are Built On Anticipation

If you want CD, vinyl, download and merch sales, just like with most other non-essential items that we buy, anticipation is the key. When fans are aware of an upcoming release, anticipation and desire builds. You lose that with a surprise release, which means that sales will most likely lag behind what you expected.

Your Audiences Are Different

Superstars are blessed with huge audiences and that means that the many superfans will instantly respond to a surprise release. Indie artists don’t have that advantage and lose out as a result.

In short, superstars can get away and even benefit by tactics that won’t have the same result for an indie artist. A surprise release might look good on paper, but examine the issues carefully before you commit.


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