There is a lot of discussions happening in the media about artists needing to release new music constantly and how they need to tour more frequently to make up for smaller royalties as sales of recorded music are replaced by access fees to recorded music.
Eddie Trunk on his Twitter account said;
“I think in many ways we are starting to see effects of every artist touring nonstop to offset decline in royalties. But only so much people can do. Mega acts will always draw and command big $. For many others very hit/miss. Only so much fans can see/pay.”
And then I read an article on The Guardian website about how there is a need for artists to release new music constantly.
And the first thing that came to mind was Ronnie James Dio.
1972 to 1979, Ronnie James Dio via Elf and Rainbow released 7 albums.
1980 to 1987, Ronnie James Dio via Black Sabbath and his Dio band released another 8 albums.
In total from 1972 to 1987, over a 15 year period, Ronnie James Dio built his brand and name into a worldwide rock star by releasing 15 albums. And he did it by playing live, by writing new music, recording studio albums and recording live shows (which would eventually be released as live albums).
There is a comment in The Guardian article about how The Beatles released 13 albums over a 7 year period between 1963 and 1970. The Rolling Stones released 10 albums between 1964 and 1970. And as most of the comments stated, there is nothing wrong with releasing music on a frequent basis as long as the quality is there.
So why is it a problem these days to release music frequently or touring more frequently?
Fans have choice and a lot of it. They can pick and choose. In most cases, they choose a higher profile act, not because the act is fantastic in its current state, but because they were fantastic once upon a time and the dad or mum want to take their kids to experience the same electricity. Or the act is such a big ticket that people go just so they could take a photo and show their Facebook and Instagram crowd they went.
But ticket prices are a problem especially if acts scalp their own tickets.
And albums don’t have a long shelf life anymore, like how they did in the MTV era because there are no geo restrictions anymore.
In the past, for an US act starting off, the album would be released just in the U.S.
A video clip starts doing the rounds on MTV and suddenly, the album is selling. 3 months later, it is released across different European and UK countries. 3 months after that it has its Japanese release and then Australian release. An artist, bankrolled by the label is doing promotional for the album 9 months after it has been released and then the tour has already started and then they are on the road for a little bit longer. Once that ends, they go back in the studio for the follow up.
But today, an album is released worldwide, on the same day. Gone is the 9 months of promotions to make the album hang around. Instead it is replaced with 3 months of promotion before the album is released for at least 4 weeks of sales and a charting position to validate the albums worth, which is meaningless anyway. The true test of an albums worth is if people are still listening to it 12 months from now and 24 months from now.
And they say that history can show us where we are going. Well, the 50’s and 60’s model of releasing singles on a frequent basis to see which one connects is the model on show today. The focus on week one sales, is irrelevant if there isn’t a continuous stream of new content.