Developing your track-list is a crucial step in releasing your upcoming project. A track-list not just tells your listener what he or she is listening too, but it also allows you to build a theme or tell a story throughout your entire project. We will first walk through song placement, and then talk about what is too much or too little for a project.
Placement of songs are often overlooked, which can be deadly to an album, EP, or mixtape. It’s tempting put your favorite songs near the top of the album, but front loading your project could leave your back-end weak. People will remember two things from a project: 1) Their favorite song. 2) What they last heard. A weak last half of the project could take your listeners opinion from thinking your stuff is “pretty good” to “okay”.
So how should you lay out your tracks? Think about the albums you’ve listened to and how you listened to t hem. The first track is usually an intro track or skit, but labeling a track as “Intro” could lead to some automatic skipping. If you are in the Rock genre or play your own instrument while singing any type of music, it might be tempting to start off your project with an instrumental or a track with minimal words: DON’T DO IT (unless you’re whole project is instrumentals). Hip-hop artists love to start with spoken word, which works well, but only if it’s limited to a maximum of a minute. Other than that, your first song should be the track that best represents either you as an artist or the theme of your project. Make sure whatever you start with it can draw in listeners, but try to stray away from putting your best song first.
Sprinkle in your strongest tracks throughout the album, but have at least two strong tracks to start. Your absolute best song should be in the middle, where you can start to shape your listeners opinion from listening to enjoying. Ending strong is very important so have a track that involves something memorable near the end.
So what’s too little? A full length album is usually at least 30 minutes of music, so about 8 tracks. Anything below this just doesn’t give anyone enough time to form a strong opinion on your project or as an artist. If you want to do the minimum of 8 songs, make sure you hit it out of the park with all of them. Having less songs than others won’t hurt you, as long as the quality of your music is high all throughout the project. EP’s are usually shorter, so again the quality of music is important. Mixtapes are meant to showcase your wide array of talents, so 15-20 songs should be standard.
What’s too much? There’s no such thing as too much good music…unless you start to overload your listeners memory. 23-25 songs should be more than enough when it comes to debuting your first project. Anything more than that typically overloads the listeners memory and he or she starts to forget a lot of the tracks. This isn’t the way to grow your fanbase. People like variety, but too much variety is bad. A solid 18 songs that bring your sounds to life just the way you want them should be plenty to let the world enjoy your creativity.
Remember to stay creating and good things will come!