The AAR Cycle

So you finished your single/EP/album. The music is amazing. Production is amazing. Artwork is amazing. You’ve put countless hours into this. It’s uploaded to Bandcamp and ready to be released. Next, you go to Facebook, post the link, and sit back and wait for the downloads to roll in. And then… yeah… pretty rough results. Why?

Every artist or band continually goes through what I call the AAR Cycle, a three-part cycle of Awareness, Anticipation, and Release.

AAR Cycle

Let’s work backwards. If you want successful results from your single/EP/album, your fans and friends need to know in advance when your music is being Released, how they will get it, and an idea of what to expect, to pique interest. You can’t just surprise people with this stuff.

You get this information to your fans through the Anticipation process. There absolutely MUST be Anticipation to build some element of suspense or “hype” about whatever you’re about to drop. Promo videos, behind-the-scenes footage, posters, contests, singles, and exclusive content for those on your mailing list are all possible vehicles for this. Make your content engaging, and give your followers a good amount of time before the Release to let their curiosity grow.

The absolute most critical part of the AAR Cycle, though, is the initial Awareness stage. It all MUST start with Awareness (i.e. making sure people know you exist). Otherwise, the rest is useless. In your personal life, your closest friendships grow from developing trust and loyalty over a gradual period of time. Similarly, Awareness comes from gradually developing this same trust and loyalty between your band and your fans. The best way to build this trust is to avoid the all-too-common happening of only get in touch with fans when you want something from them (“Come to this show!” … “Download this track!” … “Buy this shirt!”) Instead, be genuine and transparent about why you’re doing what you’re doing, your entire creation process, and what you hope to achieve from your project.

To summarize:

1. Use the Awareness stage to develop an emotional connection with people.

2. Once this connection is built, these initial followers will serve as the foundation for you to build Anticipation from. The people you initially connected with during the Awareness stage will not only get excited during the Anticipation stage, but they will share this excitement with like-minded friends.

3. After both of these steps have happened successfully, your Release will be much stronger, and I promise you will be more satisfied with the results.

If your music is released and no one is around to hear it, it does not make a sound.

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