I started writing this as a reply to a tweet and realized that I have a lot to say about song premieres.
(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please read the original article)
I hate premieres. Specifically, the exclusivity. I always appreciate what people have to say and any feedback is always welcome, but the practice has devolved into something completely different. It’s not about the music.
It’s become a status check, a symbol of how big you are, an industry calling card.
A song premiere is the annoying practice of artificially limiting where a song can be heard on release day (or a few days before), in order to drive some traffic to a specific website. Its like Kanye making his album a Tidal exclusive. It’s like Adele shunning streaming services so people would buy some more plastic.
Kanye and Adele can afford to make decisions like that, but for the rest of us middle class musicians, we shouldn’t have to. Give the people what they want and where they want it.
The original article does a good job of explaining the issues from a blog’s perspective, but here’s why song premieres can be lame from a musician’s perspective:
- I’ve had premieres on the biggest publications in the world and it’s gotten me 300–2000 plays tops. 2000 plays isn’t enough to generate any kind of excitement over a song that will eventually pay the bills.
- Posting non-native (aka website) links on social media always performs poorly. It’s like we’re giving up the virality of a release to a publication so they can generate ad revenue. If a song becomes successful, it’s not because of a music blog premiere but despite of it.
- An artist also runs the risk of pissing off every other blog in the process. Why would Blog Y post about your song if you already gave it exclusively to Blog X? A lot of blogs don’t care about that, but a lot do.
- It’s often for a brief period of 24 hours, so this may seem blown out of proportion. However, it’s something you have to deal with on every release. It gets old real quick. Those first 24 hours are extremely important in the lifecycle of a song.
We’re almost at a point that the only way to be featured is to offer an exclusive premiere. I don’t want to pick a side. I want everybody to enjoy my music.
I’ve directly benefited from blogs my entire career and supporting them is something I care about deeply. It’s frustrating seeing what it’s turned into. Ultimately I can’t speak for the writing and how this affects bias, but eliminating premieres would be a good step in the right direction.
I’ve premiered countless songs on Indie Shuffle. For what it’s worth, I think they do a good job at it. They can be pushy about using their links, but that’s the trade off. It makes sense, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. If neither of us are happy about that trade off, then why are we doing this?
I support Indie Shuffle’s decision to stop premieres and only post music that they like. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
I hope other blogs stop doing this and we can get back to a purer form of music journalism.
I’m making some pretty big generalizations, and there’s obviously going to be a lot of exceptions. But I see this as a systemic problem in the music industry. Song premieres undermine the role of a critic, and we’ll all be better off without them.
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