Windowing is where an artist delays their music from hitting streaming services so that fans who want to hear the music immediatly have to buy the product. Adele’s 25 isn’t on Spotify or Apple Music (at the time of writing) and Coldplay delayed A Headful of Dreams from appearing on streaming for about a week to maximise first week sales.
So, if the big artists are doing it, should you as an independent artist window your releases? I think it all depends on whether you are at an early stage in your music career out or whether you are a more established artist.
As a new artist, I’d suggest that you don’t window your music release and put the album on streaming services immediately. Your music needs maximum exposure and having your catalogue immediately available for people to consume is a good thing. Your priority at this stage of your career is building as large a fan base as possible, building a relationship with that audience and then at a later time earning a revenue from those fans.
If you are a more established artist, I would suggest windowing your physical/digital download release from streaming services. This is not because you might encounter an increase in sales (although that is possible) but because by delaying your album’s release on streaming services you get another opportunity to re-market your music at a later date. A second ‘bite of the cherry’ if you will. You can even have a new promo video for one of the album tracks from the album ready to drop when it arrives of streaming to increase this effect. It’s almost like promote it to fans as you would a new release.
Whatever your situation I would suggest that the streaming version of the album be a ‘vanilla’ or basic version and that the ‘physical’ album have more content (bonus tracks, live music) as an incentive for freemium or premium streamers to ‘upgrade’ and make a full purchase.
Got any questions about this post or how you can better market yourself?