For an artist, choosing an appropriate time to release an album can be as important for success as the music itself to gain wider exposure. Figuring out general listening trends, times of popular albums’ releases and other significant seasonal and consumer practices must all be balanced in an artist’s mind to maximize the effectiveness of their album.
Early in the year, there are fewer high profile releases—based on aggregate scores of a user-submitted website (Sputnik music), only 2.7% of the top 75 releases of the last 3 years have been from January, and both were soundtracks as well. For a smaller artist seeking to get exposure, before March may be a great time to release an album since the bigger artists are waiting to release until later.
For a more high-profile artist, however, the first few months of the year may not be ideal since by the time “list-making season” (when major publications release their top album list for the year) comes, earlier releases may have been slightly forgotten because of recency bias. Recency bias for “best-of” lists truly exists–over 25% of Sputnik’s top albums over the last 3 years have been released in November or December.
However, have caution proceeding with a December release. Many publications release lists early in the year, and besides that, holiday music dominates listening for the entire Christmas season. Summer can be a great time for artists both small and big since more people have time to listen to music.
The great release time-window extends through October as well. Similar reasons as the summer months apply, but these months also allow for some recency bias. In summary, early in the year or summer is the ideal time for a smaller artist, and summer to fall is ideal for bigger artists.