The 6th Annual Record Store Day is just a few weeks away on April 20th and anticipation is rising with news of the full list of upcoming exclusive vinyl releases. There are also an interesting range of related book and DVD releases as well as a variety of contests.
Record Store Day is a big event for record stores, musicians and vinyl lovers alike. In addition to the website and participating stores, you can download the free updated RSD Guide App for Android and iOS.
As previously noted Jack White is this year’s Record Store Day Ambassador and a fine choice he is.
The Full List of Exclusive Record Store Day Releases is now available as a downloadable PDF or illustrated web page. Note that there are a bunch more things being released that aren’t exclusive to Record Store Day.
You can also check out Record Store Day sites for the following countries and regions:
It’s still technically winter-time at the time of this post, but before you know it, it’s going to be spring and there’s a good chance that you’re thinking of releasing a new album. I’ve read at least a dozen articles with people who make sweeping claims like “Don’t release in January” that quite honestly don’t have any idea what the hell they’re talking about. When you should release your album depends on A LOT of factors and there’s no simple reason why you should pick one month over another. It all has to do with what your plans are AFTER the release. Let’s take a look.
In the last few years there has been a big push to get major label artists to release their music in January. For years, January was considered a dead zone in the industry because holiday sales were low and the chances of a record making it big and staying in people’s minds between January and the next big push of holiday sales was almost zero.
Having said that though, that opened up a new market for artists with staying power. Adele and a few other major names (Lana Del Rey, Arctic Monkeys, The Maccabees) knew that they had some clout and would be able to capitalize on the “lack” of new music in the January season to make marketing easier and cheaper to do.
Indie Advice: January is a pretty good month for indie music because music bloggers are fresh off the high that was “The best of the previous year” articles that they spent all of December posting and are looking for something new to talk about. Since bands don’t send them much right after the holidays, you’ll have a pretty good chance at getting placements. Having said that though, if your goal is to ride the Christmas-buying wave and you don’t have a STRONG following, releasing in January means you’ll be irrelevant by March and come year end, no one will even know your name.
Here’s where things start getting hairy. Spring is PRIME album release time for “indie” bands. I use the term “indie” loosely because here I’m referring to bands who are most likely to be playing festivals. Obviously, Adele doesn’t play festival gigs and is more of a mainstream artist than someone running the festival string. I digress.
Spring time is horrendous for competition. It’s when the new year is in “full swing” and bands are looking to get their records out so that they have something to push through spring and summer tours, as well as to help keep a band relevant to land festival gigs.
Indie Advice: If you’re thinking of releasing in this time period, you better be damn sure that you’ve got some money to break through the noise with. Blog advertising costs go up around February to May because big name artists are also going to be fighting for the same space as you. You’ve also got to worry about people’s listening span. With so many new records to listen to from big name acts, bloggers and fans will be a bit tough to sway to listen to your own stuff. Avoid Spring if at all possible. Release a single or a new video, but don’t let your whole record out just yet. Play some shows, sell your old CDs, build hype, etc.
Things start to calm down in the summer months (or winter if you’re in upside-down land. Aka Australia). But that still doesn’t mean it’s optimal time to put your record out. If blog coverage is your goal, there’s a good chance you won’t get a whole lot of love. Summer is festival season and blogs will be quite busy covering their favorite acts at big festival dates. Obviously, festivals don’t run the entire 3 months, but the bigger taste-makers tend to favor posting about bands who will be performing at festivals (because that’s the “news” of the stories and press releases that are sent to them).
Although, despite it being festival season, smaller blogs tend to have a harder time getting new content to write about. Although submissions still come in, because the bands that “matter” have already sent in their new album information, blogs are struggling for content if they can’t make it to Bonnaroo or CMJ in New York City.
Indie Advice: Summer is a solid time to release. Don’t expect to get a lot of placement on ForkPitch, but smaller blogs will be all-ears as usual. You can get away with releasing in the summer if you have the time to promote heavily. It’ll take a bit of extra attention to grab the ears of college students and young people who will be attending festivals. New music doesn’t stick very well in this time period because of how music-heavy the summer is to begin with, but you won’t be competing with bigger name acts for promotional space as much.
Finally, the winter season. As I mentioned earlier in the article, the winter months are generally best for major label artists trying to ride the holiday wave. Obviously, as an independent artist you’re probably not very worried about how well your album sells during a specific time of the year, but rather if it sells at all. September-December is ignored largely by independent artists because there’s no summer-touring involved, nor is there a winter tour they’ll be supporting either. Going out on the road when there’s snow on the road is generally a no-go for anyone, which is why September-December is the quietest period in the year for album releases.
Indie Advice: If possible, release your record in this period of time. Obviously, you won’t be able to go out on tour in support of the album, but because you’ll have your album broadcasting to open ears, you may be able to follow up with a single/EP release in the early part of the following year to tour behind. When you’re an indie, exposure is what counts the most in the beginning, so having a solid footing to build off of when you’re trying to compete for more/cheaper advertising space on social media sites is crucial. If this is your first or second album release, use the safety of September-December to build a repertoire with blogs about your music.
A lot of what is mentioned above is based around one thing: touring. If you’re an indie that’s looking to tour after the release of an album, then there’s a good chance your press release will contain tour information about what you’ll be doing following the release of your album. If your goal is to get more exposure for your tour, and in turn get blog readers interested in coming out to your show in town, then you should make your decision about when to send out your new-album press releases in regards to how good of a chance it has of being written about.
If you have no plans of touring then just about any of the above time slots will work. Obviously, take into account the fact that festivals and other factors will affect a blogger’s decision to cover you, but generally speaking, smaller bloggers (not the huge tastemaker ones likes Pitchfork, NPR, Paste, Obscure Sound etc) won’t have as much to cover during high-traffic music months.
Source: Music Think Tank (by David Roberts)
After a musician has been busy performing and writing for a good length of time, it may seem that recording an album is next on the agenda. However, Tom Satchwell cautions against this and instead encourages musicians to release music as often as possible.
Right then, you’ve been writing and performing for a while now, you’ve got a nice notepad scribbled with lyrics and a hard drive full of demos and a fanbase that hits a few cities. So you might be fooled into thinking now would be a good time to take some time out to write an album, right?
You’ve spent all that time building yourself up, faced all the challenges of getting people to connect and you want to take 6 months to year out to write music, only posting “Exciting things to come, can’t wait for you to hear it” on Facebook every other week? Sounds ridiculous! People don’t have big attention spans, if you disappear for that length of time, when you come back with that pristine, packaged album you’ll of been forgotten about.
So what should you be doing?
You should be releasing as often as possible. If you have the content for an album you have the content for 10 singles or 5 Eps. What’s going to keep you at the forefront of your fans mind; the promise of music to come? Or consistent music every other month?…Exactly!
You may worry about the quality, I mean, how can you guarantee consistent quality music when you’re firing out an EP every two months? Well, think of it this way, if one EP flops, you’re fans will probably forgive you and you can focus on making the next one better. Whereas if you’ve spent a year on an album making your fans wait and it flops, you’ve lost a year and you’ve lost the fan.
There is too much pressure on bringing out a spectacular album. An album which is essentially 3-4 great singles and a bunch of fillers, so why put yourself through that? Release more often and you can work on different EPs which lets you experiment with your music, while giving your fans more to listen to, more to talk about and more to share. If you want an example of this in play, check out the guys of Bastille. They’ve been whipping out EPs and singles more often than they (probably) change their underwear. Some have been crackers, some have been a bit ‘meh,’ but do I make sure I get every one of them? Yes, I do!
So if you have track that goes down a storm at a show, why make fans wait a year to hear it on an album? Record it straight away and get it out, if it’s a rough mix, give it away for free with the promise it will be fully mastered on the next EP. You’re supplying demand here remember. The last thing you want is to disappoint fans by taking ages to release music, for it then to be a dud. The disappointment will be tenfold. This method gives you another chance. You have more chances to play. Mess up one, it’s ok, you’ve got the next one to sort it out.
If you write a song late on a Friday night, why not record it over the weekend and send it out to your mailing list? Give them the story of how it’s just for them and that you wrote it just two days ago, they’re getting first listen. They’re going to feel way more connected than if you’d just said, “Wrote a sweet song, you’ll have to wait for the album to hear it though!
The idea here is to create as many new moments as you can between you, your music and your fan, keep them coming and the fan will stay. Make them wait 6 months and not only will the fan become disconnected with you but you’ll become disconnected with the music.
Source: Music Think Tank (by Tom Satchwell)
-Artists and labels might not get the individual attention they demand with so many accounts being pushed together, which could provide opportunity for smaller groups to snag some disgruntled customers.
-Less competition among distributors which will eventually lead to higher service rates.
-It’s only a matter of time until CD-Baby and TuneCore do something similar.
Stones Throw Records to Launch Digital Subscription Service
Stones Throw made big news this afternoon when they announced a new direct-to-fan sales service that would allow fans of Stones Throw’s artists to receive new EPs and LPs directly through their inbox for a small monthly fee of $10.
It’s a great idea for labels to skip the middle man step and do the distribution itself using Drip.fm, but there are some obvious problems with this business model:
1) Only smaller labels would be able to offer such a small fee in return for all the new releases.
2) The customer has to love the majority of the label’s music, which is unlikely.
3) Drip.fm, the service provider, needs to provide configuration options to pick and select specific artists they want new music from instead of the whole catalog. This will come next, most likely.
4) It lacks the network ability to manuver from artist to artist. It’s too limiting if you want to buy from another artist on a different label at the same time.
What do the labels think? It will be interesting to see if other small labels chase this model.