Pitch please!: Make it or break it
Whenever one of your favorite artist releases an album, it’s guaranteed that you WILL listen to it and you select the songs that you hope get the coveted single treatment, and then flip out when you hear it on the radio months later.
The period where the artist first announces they are releasing new music, all the way up until they decide to take a break is considered an era. An era can last from anywhere from a couple of months if the album isn’t of any quality, or if no one is checking for the artist, to a couple of years. The latest examples we can see of highly successful eras are Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” and Adele’s “21.” “Teenage Dream” was released back in 2010 and its era lasted up until the fall last year. The album spawned six No. 1 singles and two additional top 10 hits, all with multi-platinum certifications in the states and sold 5.5 million copies worldwide. Adele’s “21” had three No. 1 singles and one additional top 20 hit, which less than Perry’s, but “21” sold five times as many albums. There are several factors in my opinion, with my limited knowledge of the music industry, on what can make or break an artist’s era.
Questionable single choices: If you begin an era with a strong single that does well, but the follow-up sucks, it makes you question what the artist is doing with their lives. However, what one person thinks is a bad choice, 100 others might think is amazing. Though it is their most well-known song and everyone seems to love it, I still don’t agree with Blink-182 releasing “All the Small Things” as their follow-up to “What’s My Age Again?” “Adam’s Song” (which is probably the best song on “Enema of The State”) should have followed so “All the Small Things” could have been sold to a boy band like the Backstreet Boys (whom they parodied in the video). Then again, they probably wouldn’t have gone on to sell 15 million copies and be a musical inspiration.
Premature single releases: Rush releasing singles or just throwing out songs every other week hoping that radio will pick them up is not the way to go. The artist and their label have to know when to let a single breathe and flourish, then when it begins to die (losing radio impressions, declining sales) and when to bring out the next one. During Rihanna’s “Talk That Talk” period, Rihanna’s “We Found Love” was still successful on the charts when she decided to release follow up “You Da One” two months later. Because everyone was still focused on “Love,” “You Da One” got less attention and peaked too early. The same happened with Nicki Minaj and her song “Pound the Alarm.” People began to get confused when she decided to release “The Boys” and “Va Va Voom” concurrently, splitting the attention and squashing her chances at another top 10 hit.
Lack of promotion or none at all: If the label that an artist is signed to doesn’t think the material included on an album will do well commercially, they can easily pull funds from the artist and focus on an act that will give them more bang for their buck. Christina Aguilera released her album “Lotus” back in November 2012, and left her position as a judge on “The Voice” to promote the album. She did one TV appearance on Jimmy Fallon, one award show performance, and then fell off the face of the Earth within two months. Whereas her RCA counterparts like Usher and Chris Brown were catered to with international promo and grand scale performances on the Grammys and pulled the same numbers.
Are there any factors that I missed that could make or break an album’s success?