[Editor’s Note: This blog is written by Jesse Elmore and was originally featured on Hear The Music.]
A good number of successful musicians’ careers are built upon hitting it big with a great single song. In today’s world of Spotify, YouTube, and iTunes the single has never been more important.
The technology available to musicians today is incredible. Recording a single song used to cost thousands of dollars in studio time, equipment rental, and professional audio engineering mixing. Now you can setup a home recording studio for a fraction of the cost and record as many songs as you want in whatever time frame you need.
Also, with the great (and free) distribution channels available you no longer need to wait until you have a full album ready to go pitch it to a studio and hope you get that .01% chance that they promote you. You simply go on to YouTube, upload the video, and the whole world can immediately see it.
Now, I know it’s not quite that simple. You still need people to subscribe to your YouTube channel, follow you on Twitter, and connect with you on all the other social media platforms. But the fact is that it is easier today then any time before to connect and share your music with the world.
With all that available to you it only makes sense that you would want to get your latest songs in front of your fans eyes as soon as possible. Consistently recording and making music for your fans to enjoy, share, and buy is important, but what if you’re running out of good ideas about what you should be creating?
If you find yourself stuck on what type of single you should be working on, read below for my list of 10 different kinds of singles that are sure to please your fans.
1. Live song
Don’t have any new songs to record or release? How about polishing up a live recording from your latest show and releasing that? It’s a great way to breath more life into one of your older songs. Look back through your list of YouTube videos that doesn’t get as many views as it once did and re-release it as a live version.
No one expects a perfect mix from a song created at a live show, so don’t let that stop you. Your fans will LOVE seeing you out in the “real world” and it will give you something to put on your resume the next time you’re meeting with buyers and promoters.
2. Cover song
Doing cover songs is a perfect way to pull in new people who haven’t heard you yet. When you’re looking for a song on YouTube or Google what do you search for? Probably name and artist just like me. Be sure to include the original name and artist in your song title and your version will show up in their search results.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing and covering older songs will bring in the kindred spirits who share your taste in music and are fans of the same musicians as you. From there it’s a short step to them checking out your whole catalog of music and becoming a fan of yours too.
Can you speak more than one language? Do you record songs in each of the languages? Why not? Record some of your songs in alternate languages and grow the potential size of your audience.
I have heard some beautiful cover songs where the vocalist switched between languages during different parts of the song.
4. Your newest song
This one is kind of obvious, but it’s also one of the most important. If you record a song you’re proud of, then release it. Even if it’s not your favorite or you are working on a new “super” song. More songs = more views. You never know which song will take you to the next level.
I don’t recommend sitting on finished songs unless you have a very good and specific reason to do so. If you never put the song out there, then no one will ever hear it. Pretty obvious right?
5. Rarity or unreleased track
Do you have any songs sitting in the back corner of your computer that you’ve never release? Do you normally perform pschodelic new-age throat singing songs and the one country western track you recorded didn’t fit anywhere on your last album? Release it!
Your fans will love hearing it, even if it isn’t what you normally do.
6. Holiday single
You see big names do this every year. You can either write a new holiday single or cover a classic. November and December are huge months for retail music and everyone is quick to snatch up a seasonal single.
If you’ve written some original songs I would also include some classic covers to pull people in. As I said before, nostalgia is very powerful.
7. Topical songs
Do you have a unique or interesting view on a topic that is currently trending in the news? Write a song about it and get it recorded ASAP. A song about the current blockbuster move will find a much bigger audience now then in 3 months.
You can find inspiration for topical songs from the news, movies, TV, other artists, or wherever. The important part is to release the song while the topic is still on everyone’s mind.
8. Acoustic/alternate version
In the same vein as a live version, record an acoustic or alternative version of some of your more popular songs. Switch up the instrumentals, arrangement, or production and release them. Dedicated fans love hearing their favorite songs “unplugged”.
If you saved any of the alternate mixes from when you made the original, look back over them and see if there is anything you can use.
This is a very specific type of alternative version of a song. Depending on the type of music you make remixes may or may not resonate with your fan base. If a remix is something you think they would enjoy, but you don’t know how to go about creating one, then start a conversation with an artist that knows how to make quality remixes. Ask them if they would like to work together, give them your recordings, and see what they come up with.
Working with another artist is mutually beneficial and can lead to the creation of some unique music that never would have been made otherwise.
10. Instrumental version
An instrumental version of a song can come in a few different flavors. You can simply take the vocals out and leave the music there, use a new instrumental part carrying the melody of the removed vocals, or fully reinterpret and re-record the whole song.
These can be surprisingly powerful and popular. Especially with established fans.
I hope these 10 different kinds of singles gave you some ideas about additional music you can be producing. Remember that you should strive to consistently release music and it’s a good idea to keep some variety to your songs. This increases your fan base and keeps them excited about what you’ll be releasing next!