Are Surprise Music Releases Right For You?

While following in the footsteps of industry stars like Taylor Swift and Bad Bunny by dropping a ‘surprise’ album can be tempting, this bombshell style of releasing music isn’t always the best career move.

Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix

The temptation to deliver surprise releases may be great, but most artists need to think twice before sharing unexpected material with fans.

There is something to be said for the element of surprise and its ability to engage your audience. Everyone loves learning that their favorite artists have new creations to share, but not every creator has a career that can leverage surprise releases in a meaningful way.

In 2020, Taylor Swift made global headlines twice with surprise releases. Her two albums, Evermore and Folklore, were immediate hits covered by everyone in music journalism. The short notice given to fans about the impending releases didn’t matter because, to be frank, she’s Taylor Swift. The world already cares about her and her music, so it doesn’t take long to get people excited about something new.

But you’re not Taylor Swift. You’re most likely not Playboy Carti, Bad Bunny, or any of the other arena level talent surprising fans with new music in recent years. You are an up and coming artist doing your best to stand out from the endless sea of competition. You have to work to make people outside your immediate circle care about new music, and even when you get press, it’s unclear if the reach does anything to move the needle for your career.

In the latest Music Biz 101 clip, host James Shotwell discusses the pros and cons of surprise releases. He works through why this release strategy works better for some than others and offers ways to gauge whether dropping music out of nowhere will help your career. Check it out:

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James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company’s podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.

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