The internet has sped up the lifespan for new releases exponentially—songs and albums are out for 24 hours before they're considered old, if they're lucky—but the internet has also slowed down the album cycle considerably.
Take Rihanna's Anti album. As The FADERreported, the album was released almost a year ago now and is still in the top 30, currently sitting at number 27. But perhaps even more impressively, it's still spawning new hit singles. In addition to "Needed Me" and "Sex With Me," which are both Top 100 singles, RiRi's latest official single, "Love on the Brain," is now also skyrocketing up the charts. It debuted at #65 and has risen to #34 in just two weeks, with no sign of slowing down.
There's a lesson to be learned here beyond "it's good to be Rihanna," a lesson that applies even to underground artists.
When the music industry was targeted towards first week, in-store album purchases, the possibilities for rediscovering albums past their initial push were relatively slim. Even if you somehow managed to hear a great album a year later, it might literally not be in stores anymore for you to buy.
But now, an album's shelf life is potentially infinite. That big hit single that breaks an artist could just as easily come two years after the song's first released as it could two weeks after, just ask Kodak Black. Personally speaking, Daniel Caesar's Pilgrim's Paradise has become one of my favorite albums I've heard this year, and it was released in 2015.
Rihanna's obviously done well to maximize the lifespan of her release, and I'd also point to J. Cole as a prominent artist who knows how to really work a project. (You realize it's almost been two years since Forest Hills Drive dropped, right?) But fame aside, why shouldn't all artists operate on that time cycle? Don't bow to social media update pressure, shoot a video for every song on your album, come up with new campaigns—you know, work that shit. And if you don't believe in it enough to work it that long, maybe it's not worth putting out.
Be patient. This is 2016, albums can live forever—don't kill yours prematurely.