Don’t Listen to the Musicians in Interviews
One thing you’ll often hear in interviews with musicians is how they have a certain number of songs prepared for going into the studio. It might be 20 songs or 15 songs. Whatever it is, but that’s for signed artists. For independent artists, the number of songs to be included on an album is not as important. More important is making sure that the quality of those songs that are recorded is as good as possible.
It’s About Minutes Rather Than Tracks
The amount of music that’s included on a full length album used to be limited to the number of minutes that could fit on the format that the album was being sold on. For example, the 33 1/3 LP used to have a maximum time of 42 minutes. This forced many of the albums from the 1960s and 1970s to be shorter lengthed albums than many that followed. The was due to the popularization of the CD, as it was a digital format.
Despite being a smaller disc, a CD could fit as many as 72 minutes. This allowed musicians the opportunity to record more songs and more music to fill up more of the space available to them. But again, a full length album technically could be a single song lasting 72 minutes. There is no specification as to how many songs can be on the album. Now that the CD and LP are sold more often as chotchkies rather than the sole way of distributing the music. And now streaming has taken over. The amount of songs or minutes that can be on a single album is nearly infinite.
But If You’re An Independent Musician…
However, musicians are still married to the old paradigms that the old formats forced upon us when going into the studio. Concentrate on quality over quantity as an independent musician. Your goal is to record the best songs possible rather than the most songs possible. Consider releasing an EP or several EPs of your best songs rather than a full length album. Another idea is to release only singles if you are unsigned. Do so until you have gotten the attention of a label. Don’t release a full length album until someone else is paying for it to be produced. This will greatly reduce your costs, will leave your fans and the music industry wanting more.
Once you are a signed artist, recording a full length album will be required. At that point, releasing an album of eight or more songs lasting between 40 and 70 minutes will be required. But even as a signed artist, you still will want to leave your audience wanting more. So keep songs that are not yet ready for recording and release or songs that you would like the opportunity to continue to develop in your pocket for future releases. If the album catches fire, you’ll be that much farther ahead for releasing a follow up, coming from the same creative place that brought this success. And if the album is not as success, being able to go into the studio sooner in order to recover financially from any losses will be critical.