Music Industry

Can we use big data to determine the best weeks to release albums? Maybe.

[Another guest blog by Laura Stephan. -AC]

In the realm of music streaming the competition for audience attention is high. Just how much new music is one person going to ingest at the same time. This calls for strategy to ensure the right audiences are being targeted at the right time. Amber Horsburgh studied 691 album releases from 2019 to understand what factors go into making an ideal album release date.

From cultural events, to public holidays, other album releases and weather there are multiple perspectives to consider. Like Coachella for instance, the impact this annual two-week music festival has on album release is extreme. Opportunities for press and coverage for artists not preforming at the festival are limited during this time in April. This enviably creates a backlog of releases the week after Coachella. Because of this, waiting to release an album a few weeks after Coachella can vastly reduce competition. The impact is similar for that of holidays like Labor Day, Memorial Day and New Years. During the week after all of these events we saw an influx of album releases.

Second to these public holidays, it is also important to avoid mega pop-stars release dates. In 2019 aside from the weeks of Christmas and New Years, the least amount of records was released on the same weeks of Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande’s albums. Artists avoided competing for attention against these pop superstars. It’s important to know your audience, if you aren’t appealing to the same audience as Taylor, perhaps you can take advantage of the low competition. This being said, Missy Elliot’s 2019 album Iconology released on August 23rd, the same date as Taylor Swift’s Lover, had first week sales of 17,000. Meanwhile Lover sold 867,000 units in the first week. It’s important to know your target audience to understand the level of competition at any given time.

When we step back and look at the year as a whole, some surprising patterns emerge. Album releases are fewer during the fourth quarter of the year, while music streaming tends to be higher. And during the summer months when the days are longer, people’s taste for intense music increases.

Want to learn more and take advantage of free resources for planning? Check out Amber Horsburgh’s article here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37808 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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