It’s March and SXSW is wrapping up in Austin, which is the kickoff to the spring push in the music industry. What am I still paying attention, too? The latest Jicks record, Wig Out at Jagbags. What else? The Against Me! album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues.
Why? The answer is simple. Both are January releases. January is a great month for media Moneyball. The owned the media cycle for a quiet month and nothing really rose to dethrone them in February, at least from a coverage perspective in the social streams I follow. Will these albums be overlooked or given short shrift come year end? Sure, but who cares? How much are year end lists worth in 2014 anyhow? (Could be a lot; tell me if I’m wrong.)
January is the perfect month to release an album. Ever since LCD Soundsystem released their debut in January 2005, I’ve asked why more bands don’t do this. Break away from the March and October cycle, make as much noise as possible and then tour if you can. This is especially genius with a “legacy” artist like Malkmus, who has a pretty well-defined fan base. Maybe this bought him some additional exposure. January offers more “runway” for an artist than the commercial claustrophobia of March.
But why is it so smart to push an album before March rolls around?
A few reasons:
- Critics are just like us! They make resolutions! Things like “I will listen to more music this year.” Put out an album in January and you’re the sole beneficiary.
- There is no other news. I must’ve read 4 or more fantastic, generous interviews with Malkmus and probably twice as many with Against Me!‘s Laura Jane Grace.
- Release an album in January and you get expansive “narrative space.” Malkmus’s story is nowhere near as gripping as Laura Jane Grace’s, yet the narrative that he’s been with the Jicks longer than Pavement shone through and the coverage humanized him unlike ever before. The interplay with his kids’ listening habits was fantastic and the image of him singing to Avicii in a minivan amazed me.
If you still think release dates are meaningful inasmuch as it allows you to prepare for a news cycle, break free of the old methods. To apply some business speak from Havard Business Review, adopt a blue ocean strategy and get your client out there in the open. To bring it back to Billy Beane, find the market inefficiency and take advantage.