The streaming era is driven by singles, which means you should be releasing standalone tracks.
But let's clarify something upfront: Albums are still important.
The album format gives you a better chance to shape a story around your music, define your sound, get press coverage, and sell merch. Plus, many streaming platforms still prioritize albums both in terms of how they display releases on your profile and in their own consideration processes for what music might get a little extra editorial or algorithmic push.
That being said, you should be planning your singles release strategy every bit as much as you’re looking ahead to the next album.
What kind of artist should be releasing singles (and why)?
1. Artists who have never put out music before…
… should start by releasing a single song. That gives you a chance to establish your online presence and claim your profiles on popular streaming platforms by getting verified on Spotify for Artists, Apple Music for Artists, Pandora AMP, and YouTube’s Official Artist Channels.
2. Musicians preparing to release an album…
… should build-up to the big launch by putting out one or two of the best tracks in advance. Get your audience excited for more, get some playlist activity happening for those initial tracks so the streaming platforms are tuned to watch for your next release, and use your singles as a chance to tease the album story to press.
3. Musicians who have been away for a while…
… may have a bit of catching up to do on the latest technology and trends, including music distribution, monetization, and promotion. Career, family, illness, burnout: There are many reasons you might’ve taken a break from music, and the longer your hiatus, the more you’ll have to learn. Releasing a single song gives you a low-impact way to get reacquainted.
4. Musicians who are between EPs or LPs…
… can’t just disappear for a year or two while you toil away on the next masterpiece. Audiences today expect frequent contact with the artists they’re paying attention to, and streaming platforms reward prolific artists. So get a steady flow of songs ready for the world.
5. Musicians who are just having fun…
… can have even more fun with singles. Not everything you put out needs to be super polished or masterfully produced. As a music format, singles give you a great way to take risks, try new genres, collaborate with other artists, or even share live tracks or demos.
6. Prolific producers or labels…
… probably already knows the value of singles. The volume of tracks you’re producing or releasing can get maddening if there’s a bottleneck. Releasing songs as they’re finished means you can meet audience expectations, “feed the algorithm,” and (best of all) clear the creative slate so you can dive fully into your next production.
7. Artists on a lean budget (ummm, all of us?)…
… have probably considered the cost of producing a full album and gotten discouraged. Endless hours, renting studio time or purchasing home-studio gear, mixing, mastering, manufacturing. It adds up — and we haven’t even gotten to promotion and marketing costs. With singles, the stakes are much lower. Less cost. Less time. And all the benefits mentioned above.
Single songs don’t deserve any less.
A song is more than a single. Good songs contain whole worlds within them, and the right song can make just as big an impact as an album.
That’s why CD Baby gives you more than distribution. We help you take a single-song release as seriously as you would a big album launch.
Every track you drop deserves attention — so our social monetization, sync licensing, and promo tools come included with ALL distribution options.