Why Abandoning Album-Driven Artistry for Single Success is a Mistake

Hits are great, but history has proven they’re not sustainable.

In the midst of an evolving music landscape, both from an artist and consumer standpoint, it’s becoming increasingly more tempting to ditch the more tedious work that goes into crafting a great album in favor of the kind of viral fame that comes with a single like Ugly God’s “Water” or D.R.A.M. and Lil Yachty’s “Broccoli.”

California-based artist KYLE has recently caught a taste of that instant gratification, and in a recent interview with Billboard, it seems like the success of “iSpy” has started to change his approach to music.

"It definitely shifts my perspective because I have always said my main goal as an artist is to spread a positive message and really to help people -- as many people as I can -- and I noticed it’s a lot easier for one song to travel the globe than it is for an entire body of work to travel the globe. So I’m still going to put my energy into making a great album, but at the same time, I definitely want to focus on making songs that can spread to everybody everywhere."

Having recently signed to Atlantic Records, KYLE will have every resource made available to him to chase single success. Considering the reality of lackluster album sales in a seemingly endless pool of options on behalf of music consumers, I can’t fault him for flirting with the same tactics that have exploded the profiles of Lil Yachty, Ugly God and several others.

But I do think it’s a mistake, and here’s why...

Hit singles are fantastic for an artist’s career, and the value they pose to increasing awareness and maximizing the accessibility of a singular concept is not without merit. Duplicating that success, however, is extremely difficult and from a statistical standpoint, highly unlikely.

Artists like KYLE, who intend on having longevity within the record business and evolving while bringing their fans along for the ride, would be smart to stick to crafting great projects that create a lasting relationship with their fan base, a relationship that is much more difficult to build through singles.

Landing commercial placements and becoming a meme is great, but for artists who desire to make a legitimate impact, a true following must first be earned through painstaking relationship-building between the artist and their fans—a process that requires more than the occasional mega-hit as fuel. For instance, a minimal prerequisite in order to extensively tour the country, or the world, is a constantly building catalog of new music, which serves as motivation for a fan base to continue to offer their live support.

I can’t knock the hustle for those artists who have no problem with being a flash-in-the-pan success—grab all the money you can before the well runs dry—but for artists with desires for something greater, crafting great projects still holds great value.


By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Instagram