Ever feel like you’re not able to convey the full story when it comes to a certain song with lyrics alone? Maybe there’s a fantastic behind-the-scenes quip you keep telling everyone, but not enough people have heard of it. Are your fans constantly asking a handful of questions when they meet you in person or on social media?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these, you should consider recording commentary on your art.
There are a lot of ways you can do this, but the idea is always the same: share the meaning and backstory behind your music. You can make it look just like another album, going track-by-track, or perhaps you want to just focus on some of your biggest hits and put them into a collection. Or, why not hop on the podcast bandwagon and go all out, diving deep and giving fans more than they knew they needed?
Here are some examples:
Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles has released two collections of commentary about her own work and she’s tried a couple different angles. First, she chatted about some of her most popular tunes, picking some fan favorites, while in another release, she focused solely on cuts featured in her musical Waitress. Other major musicians like Fall Out Boy, Maroon 5, fun., and plenty of others have released commentary albums that serve as companions to their regular full-lengths.
What are the benefits?
It Helps You Rack Up Streams
While you shouldn’t give up on trying to sell albums, let’s face it: streaming is king these days. Sure, those plays don’t pay as well, but streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and the like took over the industry years ago, and there’s no going back. So, you may as well do everything you can to earn as many listens as possible on these platforms.
Promoting the hell out of your new album or single is a great way to rack up streams, but you can only release so much music. Finding other things to upload to your profiles on these platforms can be an excellent way to give fans more to press play on, thus adding more to your bank account (eventually).
While an album or collection of some sort that sees you adding commentary to your releases might not earn as many clicks as your biggest single or the most popular albums in your discography, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth investing some time in doing! Creating audio commentary for your new album should be relatively easy and hassle-free, so why not go for it and see how many plays these tracks can collect? You may be surprised at how many of your fans are interested in hearing what you have to say.
It Gives Your Fans Insights
As a musician, you put your feelings, hopes, and fears—and everything else in between—onto a track, but that doesn’t mean your fans will fully grasp what you’re trying to say. They may love the song, but do they really understand the meaning behind it and the message you want to convey?
Releasing commentary that shares the deeper meaning behind your songs and albums is a fantastic and easily-accessible way for your fans to better understand your art. By diving deep into these works, you elevate them from a fun piece of music to something that comes from a place of real emotion, which may help them see the true value of your art.
You may decide you don’t want to open your heart in your commentary, or perhaps the songs you’re discussing don’t call for that type of discussion (a party tune doesn’t need to actually be about heartbreak, after all). Instead, you can talk about how a certain hook was created, tell a funny story about recording, or give them other bits of trivia they might never have known if they hadn’t listened to your new release.
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It Encourages Them To Go And Listen To Your Music Again
If you space out when you release an album and the commentary on it, you may end up seeing the number of streams your entire catalog racks up jump quite a bit. By the time you drop any collection that sees you analyzing your own music or talking about stories of its creation, hopefully most of your fans will already have heard the tunes you’re dissecting. Maybe a few weeks have passed, or perhaps it’s been years. However you want to do it, make sure they’ve had a sizable window to get to your latest.
When they go to listen to your stories and musings on the songs they already know, you should prod your fans to go back and give each piece a listen. Now that they understand them better, it would be good for your followers to press play once again, so they can see (or, hear, I suppose) them in a different light.
Now, you’ve gotten at least three streams of just two tracks: the first play of a song, the stream of the commentary, and a replay of the original. With any luck, they’ll actually play the music many times over, both in the beginning and after learning more, upping your play count by a lot.
It Keeps Them Happy While You Work On New Music
As I stated above, fans will always be most excited when you have a new single dropping or an album coming soon, but those pieces of work take months or even years to create. It’s nearly impossible for musicians to keep up with demand these days, so getting creative when it comes to filling the gap between proper releases is very important.
Sharing an album or serialized podcast of commentary about your own music is a great way to give fans something to keep them interested, on your pages on streaming platforms, and listening while you pen your next big smash. Of course it’s not the same as releasing a brand new album, but every bit of content is valuable and important, especially if you treat it as such.