When it comes to putting your music out into the world, how much and when to do it can be crucial. Today, small home recording studios abound and musicians are able to release their own music at any time and post it immediately. But, as a developing artist, should you? Having a strategy in place and a plan for when and how much to release can grow and retain a dedicated fan base. And while some old school album release models may seem archaic or don’t make much sense-releasing one album every year or so and nothing else, for instance-there are lessons to be learned from decades of industry experience. Conversely, you can also take advantage of new models that didn’t exist years ago.

Where to Start?

If you’re a new artist, your goal to releasing music will likely be attracting an audience rather than huge album sales. You’ve got to start somewhere, and a solid base of music that represents you as an artist is in order. Here are a few tried and true guidelines:

-Release an album-sized amount of music—10 to 12 tracks—or an EP, as long as it’s well curated and edited down to only the best tracks.

-Like traditional record labels, be prepared to ‘work’ those tracks for a year or so with reviews, press, and radio.

– Similarly, selecting one or two songs as singles to specifically push to radio and feature in a video will boost your exposure throughout the year and beyond.

Record labels have always known that a song in regular rotation (played constantly on the radio) can boost sales exponentially. Artists today have the advantage of creating and posting their own videos, and streaming their music for new fans to discover. Regardless, getting the attention of potential fans as often as possible, in as many places as possible, can mean the difference between success and obscurity.

Keep Going

The more your write and record, the better your band will become. Writing constantly gives you, the songwriter, the practice you need to grow musically and provides a bounty of new material from which you can then pick and choose for releases down the road. In addition:

-Release two to three new tracks during your album promotion cycle, two to three months apart. Keep your existing fans engaged and garner new fans as you announce these releases.

– Release only your best, most well recorded tracks—(save the demos and other works in progress for that box set retrospective release after you’re famous).

– Pay attention to which track or tracks get the most attention and concentrate on continuing to work those through social media, streaming and promotion.

Now What?

Once that cycle of album promotion is completed for that year, get ready to do it all over again. Don’t wait too long after to release a new album, however, as fans can be fickle if you don’t keep their attention with new material on a regular basis. And like your first release, keep the number of tracks album- or EP-size; just because you have the ability to release a multitude of new tracks simultaneously doesn’t mean you should and will only alienate potential listeners, rather than draw them in. (Would you listen to a 50 track album of an artist you’ve never heard of?)

Ultimately, following the models of what record labels have done for years and adopting the best practices of those who have come before you can ease the way to getting your music out into the world. In doing so, you’ll have a solid base from which to expand upon and build around those releases