You ever listen to an album a lot of times?
Yeah, of course you have.
Got a favorite one or two or three albums?
Is your favorite song(s) on the album the most mainstream popular track(s)? The single(s)?
No, of course not.
Singles need to be accessible. They need to catch people listening to a certain genre of music and connect with a significant number of those people.
The 23 year old guy who just had a shit day at work?
The 15 year old girl listening right after school is out?
The people at the bar halfway-listening to the music in the background?
The single needs to broadly appeal to them. They need to "get it" enough that it's enjoyable enough on a first listen that they want to keep listening.
If they like the single, maybe they check out the album. On a great album, a lot of the best tracks are kind of weird. At least, they make you think a little bit. Push you.
You can't do that with a single. Well, maybe you can, if you're really good. But with a rare exceptions, most musicians make more interesting, different, conceptual works with their non-singles.
But singles are what get people in the door. Accessible to a broad number of people, who "get it" quickly, so they can enjoy it quickly, so they want to check you out. If you hit them with something weird right away and they're... at the bar... commuting home from a bad day at work... just got out of class...
...you won't be able to appeal to them. And because singles need to serve the places that distribute them, they won't play a track that's too weird that people "don't get" right away, unless maybe you're already really famous and well-known and desired. Maybe.
Strange, conceptual, cutting-edge work? Great. But without a single here and there, nobody finds your strange, conceptual, cutting-edge work.
It's not lowering yourself. Or hell, maybe it is. But do it anyways. You need to if you want to find new people to connect with your more strange and interesting music.
Follow the formulas, just a bit. Take your weird unique take on things, and bastardize it a little bit into accessible form. A single. Then more people find your weird, interesting, unique, conceptual work. That's good.
Anyways. I haven't written a single in a while. Back to our regularly scheduled imperialism tomorrow.
This is great, this is how I'm going to think of my seasteading book, and our introductory material. Singles to get people into this new "artist" both for the benefits of broad access, and to help find those who will enjoy our edgier works.
As a musician I resonate with this idea. Funny that my favorite album I really didn`t get at first. I was 24 at the time and bored with music in general. ``Heard it all`` I thought. My sister asked what I wanted for my birthday and I had heard a bands name in passing and never checked them out. So I asked for their CD....Which one?? ...Any one is ok. I expected them to be like most bands....but they weren`t. First listen (Whole album straight through in my car during hour long commute)...`This is crazy music! Too much going on!` I gave them a shot though. Second listen, `This is interesting....` Third listen, `This is amazing!` No, singles on the album but definitely worth a listen. If they had a single maybe they would be more popular. Singles are important for getting known. Most people don`t have 3 hours to get to know a band. But it`s fun when you make an odd connection. Nice post.
I've been following your blog for quite sometime now and your recent post struck a chord with me. I've found that I have no passion. Instead, I have a passion for the passionate, in the abstract. When I'm working near people who love what they do, can see their grand vision and have a pathway to the future it inspires me. From a chef to a programmer, if I meet a passionate person, I immediately want to be them.
I've made numerous blogs covering different topics. I've started a variety of different groups at university. I've even switched hobbies from martial arts to programming to yoyos. Nothing seems to stick. It seems I need a mentor of sorts to make sure I stay on track otherwise, some voice in my head is "ooh! try this! no no no! try this!"
My main question is, how to continue? How do you know when you should cut your losses or when you're just being a pansy? Help me focus Sebastian!
I know where you're at and I've got a number of thoughts.
First and foremost, did you see Miguel Hernandez's replied? I wrote "Passion Emerges From Action, Not Contemplation," I asked for Miguel's take because he's a sharp guy.
This is it. I’m selling out. It's going to get all cliché up in here, so prepare yourselves. This is the obligatory Beatles post. In any discussion of music over the past few centuries, it’s inevitable that you will mention the Beatles. The Beatles are extraordinary for many reasons, of course, but what stands out most to me is their prolificacy. Not only were they churning out some of the most influential music of their time, they were doing so at a breakneck pace. The Fab Four released 13 albums in a span of just 7 years—a rate completely incomprehensible by the iTunes generation’s standards.
I have a theory that if you were to ask any selection of 5 people familiar with the Beatles’ work, “What is your favorite Beatles album?” you are likely to hear 5 different responses. I think this speaks not only to the top-to-bottom quality of their entire discography, but also to what I’ll call (for want of a better term) various points of entry. As ubiquitous as the Beatles are in popular culture, it is very difficult to avoid them.Aside from being an important part of culture as it’s taught in history, I remember singing “Yellow Submarine” in fifth grade music class to learn about melody. Hell, they even invaded one of the most famous scenes in the history of cinema.
One of the really important things to consider when discussing these points of entry is time. The generation of which my parents are a part (at the younger end of that spectrum, admittedly) is responsible for Beatlemania. That generation grew up with the Beatles and witnessed their evolution (Listen to this album and then listen to 1970’s Let it Be, and you will hear a definite difference). My generation grew up with the Beatles as a constant. My generation didn’t experience the Beatles as a phenomenon, as a movement, or as a social wave. My generation never met John Lennon (weird, I just got the sudden urge to write about the Who).
Depending on your perspective, my generation was able to (or forced to) choose to tackle the Beatles monster in our own time, on our own terms, and in any order we wanted, chronology be damned. My childhood, aside from the previously mentioned examples, wasn't overrun by the Beatles’ music. I was exposed, but I don’t recall listening to full albums as a kid. As such, when I was in high school I made the conscious decision to become better acclimated with this band that is almost universally revered as the greatest band to ever pick up instruments.