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When someone who’s worked at a major label with superstar acts wants to tell you something about how to succeed as a musician, you can bet that you should be listening.

That’s the case here in this great piece on Hypebot about how the Album is dying and what it will become.

I don’t agree necessarily with the overall view of the piece, as the format showcases music and great music is at the heart of what we all do, but there are two sections that are required reading for artists.

One in the middle of the post where Ethan ‘defines the Album’:

  • Branding: an album serves as a tent pole around which to rebrand a band. Logos, type faces, color, visual identites. This also applies to non-visual things such as: message, statement, platform, etc.
  • Visuals: both with and without music, related closely to branding
  • The Hook: something that serves as the tweet worthy summation of what this Album is aiming at
  • The Angle: a unique method or action which serves as an easy method for someone to write about the record
  • The Timeline: the sequence of events and windowing of releases culminating to…
  • The Release: Not the end game, but rather a stop along the way
  • The Music: Can’t forget about this? Or can you?

And at the end, where he sets out rules for a release:

  • Announce the release when it is ready to ship. Lead times should be at most 4 weeks from announcement to “in hands”
  • Self-direct all publicity and promotion. Own the visual language/identity, own the messaging.
  • Fans matter more than radio stations, website exclusives, etc. Giving a video to the NY Times ahead of your own YouTube won’t get you a good review: don’t do it.
  • Hear it and buy it: don’t put anything up to hear, watch or experience if it can’t be purchased. Reward loyalty for your fans through exclusives.
  • Make your fans product evangelists. Everyone wants an iPad because everyone they know wants one or has one. Make your release so amazing that you want to tell the world about it.
  • Own your press: disintermediate, be selective with interviews and use the channels at your disposal (video, twitter, etc)
  • Make it an event. Time it properly, make all messaging unified and coordinated.
  • Let the Release define itself: if you can’t summarize it in one sentence, keep winnowing it down until you can. It might be an app, a collection of songs, a video album, etc

These are both critical things to understand and why ‘just having good music’ is never enough!

You can read the whole post here.