Social Expectation: The Release Format Appropriate To Your Genre

CCan the medium in which a new track is released influence its success due to consumer expectations? Without a doubt.

Social expectation is paramount within the confines of the modern-day music industry. This can be widely applied to music’s biggest and brightest stars, as well as the upcoming talent. The aspect in question, and one which is in correspondence to the public’s perception of a record fresh out the studio, is the release itself.

Everything regarding a new track is scrutinized to a T by the producers and artist, with increasing attention being given to the medium in which it is released. Some opt for the ‘retro’ vinyl (LP) or the trustworthy CD, while others choose a digital-only release, but the trend for most releases is a subtle combination of the latter two. The media form however, is only the tip of the iceberg with relation to releases, as there are numerous decisions to be mulled over, including the medium in which the waiting public first come into contact with the record. It is not uncommon to witness online retailers such as declaring different release dates for different music mediums.

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Although distributors continue to utilize traditional methods such as radio to garner interest in a music artist, there is an increasing tendency to place songs in the hands of renowned DJs who lend their influence to a music artist’s popularity. This can lead to songs becoming identified with an underground movement. Such a decision is based largely upon the genre associated with the music artist in question. It is hard to imagine, for example, Beyonce’s newest single meeting with a warm welcome in ‘Pacha’ Ibiza or ‘Subclub’ Glasgow. It is hard to picture French electro duo Justice, successful but relatively unknown to the general public, being met similar warmth on BBC Radio Four.

It can be restricting to the music artist, but certain genres seem to be better suited to certain release mediums. For instance, a fresh hip hop or house release shares a natural bond with the DJ and underground scene as it seems to propel it further than normally possible, perhaps because of how naturally the consumer identifies with the rags to riches story.

The social perception of a house or hip hop record comes from exactly that: where and when it is heard. If first heard on a popular radio station or on television, it gives the record the image that it is mainstream or commercial which perhaps isn’t the best way to market a hip hop act. It’s about keeping things real, or at least pretending to. On the other hand, if it can be projected that the release was circulated on the underground, preferably by DJs and word-of-mouth, the authenticity of the music artists is less likely to be questioned.

The trend of pop records being heard online before making it big in the charts, for example, is sometimes met with an overly critical eye, as if the music artists behind the success haven’t paid their dues. Online releases are often considered unfinished and seldom thought of as showcasing respectable production values as is commonplace on a radio station, or on a television set which gives the idea that it is a finished article, ready for public consumption.

The procedure of releasing the record to an audience in a specific time and place, and format is the crux of making money in the modern music industry, as it can completely change the recognition and credit it receives due to social perception and expectation.