Thursday, September 14, 2023

Windows XP

Something that I often think about is release timescales, or windows.

Say, for example, you're a mid-level band, sat on a fairly well known indie label, you have the booking agent, the manager, the label rep, the lot. You might not think you're a big deal, but compared to someone like me, it's a stratospheric difference.

For band x putting out their latest opus, you can expect their schedule to look something like: announcement -> pre-order -> singles, videos, etc. -> press activities like interviews, features, etc. -> reviews -> album release day -> touring. 

From the announcement to the release, there's anything from a few weeks up to something more like 2 months. The touring will take them the best part of a year to complete, depending on what it is. You can expect them on a big-ish support slot, then headline dates, festivals, one-offs, more headline dates (but perhaps in bigger venues this time), more festivals, then back home for writing and recording the next thing. If something presents itself like a US tour, or another big support slot, you can stretch this out for 18 months to 2 years at a push. Someone like Don Broco have only really just finished touring Amazing Things, and that came out in 2021.

For bands and artists like myself, in the best case scenario, you're looking at: announcement & pre-order -> release -> literally any fucking thing you can wrangle. That's pretty much it, and the average time between the announcement & pre-order to the actual release is something like 2 weeks. You might throw in a single to play on streaming, or a video you've knocked up on your phone or using stock footage (ahem) to re-ignite some interest before the album release, but it's slim pickings. Whatever press you do wrangle will be reviews, maybe a mention on a blog or a 'premiere', a bit of airplay on niche/ local programs or something. Very few interviews (if any) and if you're lucky, they might align with the release date. Quite a lot don't lol. Once the album's out, you've probably got the weekend before that's your lot. A 2 day window of engagement is all you're likely to see to be honest, and the 'touring' will be a week at best I should think. And those will be small 50 cap venues, stuff you've booked yourself, a support slot at your local venue, etc.


Have a guess when the tape came out

"well, why can't you get what the big band gets?" quite simply, it's money. But not just cold, hard cash- it's investment too. You need investment in your band from people with the belief that it'll 1) do well, and 2) make them money. Nothing wrong with that, it is a business after all, but if you don't have that investment, well... you get the picture. No splatter variant vinyl for you! It's time, effort, finding the right opportunities, and having those open to you in the first place - that's the kind of investment you're looking at if you want to jump on a bus and play in front of 1,500 people every night. 

There are pros and cons though I suppose - it's not all glitz and glamour, and you'll be away working in fairly shitty conditions for huge stretches of time, but I'd be lying if I said I don't get the ocassional daydream pang of envy whenever I see a big album announcement, or big tour coming up. If only for the dream of someone else doing the work for once.

When people say I'm prolific, or put out too many albums, it's because of these shrinking windows. I can't afford to sit on my arse for 2 years if I can make some more music and put it out in the meantime. I've had 3 albums out this year (4 if you include the recent ambient tape), and it's mainly because the small windows I get for each one neccesitate another release after it, to keep those wheels moving. You can't sit still anymore! That luxury doesn't exist, so you have to just keep going. Whether that's a good or bad thing, is up to you.

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