Amount of time between promo/release in the 90s/00s | The Popjustice Forum

Amount of time between promo/release in the 90s/00s

Discussion in 'Comeback corner' started by Mvnl, Jun 15, 2020.

  1. Mvnl

    Mvnl Staff Member

    So yeah, this is a total OCD based question but while working on making year lists I quite often find myself confused on trying to figure out 'when did I first hear that song?'.

    Like: if a song entered the chart in the first week of 2000 it probably was released in the last week of 1999, but even when it charts 2 or 3 weeks later I'm assuming (by vague memories) in general by the time the single got released it already had been on the radio and music tv stations for at least a week, if not longer...

    So can anyone recall from back in the day.. both early/late 90s and early/late 00s what the average promo schedule for a single used to be? I guess it was never set in stone but I feel it was certainly on average very different from how it is these days?
  2. I was on a couple of DJ mailing lists back then and would generally get promos 2 weeks before release date (singles and albums)
  3. I'm too young to remember the early 90s but the length of time got longer as the decade went on and into the early 2000s.

    It was 1995 when the push towards getting a high new entry position got more common. I think Take That's Back For Good was one of the singles that helped it become the standard procedure - with them performing it on the Brits about 6 weeks before release and the huge first week sales it had, it made labels realise it was potentially a good idea.

    4 to 6 weeks was probably the average by late 90s, though it could sometimes be longer than that. Of course new pop acts would do school tours for several months before releasing the single, dance records could spend months on 12" promo only.

    Some of the most ridiculous ones came in late '99.. Christina Aguilera's What A Girl Wants was added to video channels about 11 weeks upfront. Britney's Born To Make You Happy almost as long. t.A.T.u's All The Things She Said as on The Box a very long time before release too - a friend told me they were pushing the label to release it for Christmas 2002. They didn't want to, but The Box didn't want to wait, so they added it in like mid-October or something, before its release at the end of January.

    When did it all end? They first tried releasing singles with no lead-up in early 2011, with Jessie J's Price Tag being an early success - but radio stations didn't support the change and many potential hits were flopping. And a couple of labels weren't playing along so they were getting an advantage in the chart. Before long everyone went back to normal. But some big releases were starting to be hampered slightly by karaoke cover versions being released in the UK before the official versions, with many making the top 40.

    Think it was 2015 they had another go with the launch of the global New Music Friday.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
  4. In 'Totally Scott-Lee'- the now infamous MTV series following Lisa Scott-Lee's make or break last single release...much was made of them only having 8 weeks promotion before release...this was 2005 so presumably 10-12 weeks promotion before release (club PAs, radio, pap set up shots etc etc) was the norm at that time
    Utopia, YourLeadSinger and Mvnl like this.
  5. Mvnl

    Mvnl Staff Member

    Is promo 'doing interviews and performances' or does it usually mean the song's out on radio/tv as well?
    8 weeks is a lot more than I'd expected. Although just today I found out Steps' video for It's The Way You Make Me Feel went to radio half november 2000 with the single not being released till january 1st and even that seemed excessive to me?
    (Though I do remember asking for release dates in stores for songs I was already enjoying but not yet able to buy in the late 90s)
  6. I suspect there's also a lot of industry stuff that needed to go on in advance too...persuading the shops to stock the CD single etc...schmoozing retail reps...organising TV and radio probably needed to be done upfront...I think magazine content is done months ahead too

    Again, in 'Totally Scott-Lee', I remember them saying they'd done six months promotion/work to get 'Get It On' up the charts
    Mvnl likes this.
  7. Mvnl

    Mvnl Staff Member

    It's almost bizarre how different things are now. I guess promo and creating anticipation is still a thing but when a song is out it's out for the world to listen to/buy/whatever
    ohnoitisnathan likes this.
  8. That was to do absolutely everything though from filming the video, getting remixes commissioned, photo shoots, artwork design etc - not just for promotion. 8 weeks from servicing the single to the media would be plenty.

    If I recall correctly, Radio 1 would tend to add a single to their playlist no earlier than about 4-5 weeks up front as a general rule.

    Of course a lot of singles would get pushed back a week or two, sometimes several times, in a bid to get more radio support before the single came out. Or then cancelled when they didn't.
    Utopia and Mvnl like this.
  9. I remember them trialling releasing records on air/on sale in 2010/11. Releasing them to radio and to download simultaniously. I liked the idea of singles climbing as they had done until the early 90s, but it didn't really work though, and it robbed many artists of their chart peaks (Nicola Roberts' 'Beat Of My Drum' was a particular victim)
    Mvnl and JMRGBY like this.
  10. I loved the days (I'm thinking up until about the mid 90s) when sometimes you wouldn't even know an artist had a new song or album out until you came across it by chance in a record store.

    I must say that I wasn't a fan of the switch to big pre-release promotion by the late 90s. It's one thing that helped to kill the singles market, I think - eventually. Why wait for 2-3 months to buy something if you can just download it for free now?
    Mvnl likes this.
  11. That's what they do now though? And it still doesn't really work, in that far fewer singles make the top 40 than used to.
  12. Mvnl

    Mvnl Staff Member

    Well downloading wasn't that big in the late 90s yet (or I just hadn't discovered?).
    I miss and don't miss the days of seeing a music video, loving the song and than having to go check in store when the single would come out. Once I started following the UK charts and saturdays morning shows it became messier because with the likes of Steps it really would be a complete surprise whether we even got the singles here.
  13. I miss nothing about those days, spending my allowance on 1 cassette a week (late 90s/early 00s) vs an instantly accessible library of every song I'd ever want to listen to. No contest IMHO. Interesting topic though. It was so annoying when you realized a song wouldn't be out for weeks. By 2003 (I was 11) I was already finding MP3s...F that.
    Mvnl likes this.
  14. this is when you had to rely on being perched by the radio ready to get a crap version on tape where they talked over half of it, gosh it used to be so difficult
  15. I miss those days. I loved CD singles, the hype, performances, charts, etc.
    Mvnl and Mr Brightside like this.
  16. I love that as soon as I hear a song, I can either stream or download it. Waiting 2 months to play a song seems like the dark ages.
    Untitledjp and Jamie like this.
  17. Mvnl

    Mvnl Staff Member

    I mean nowadays it's definitely more convenient. But there was a certain charm to the anticipation back in the day. As well as those few albums/singles you went out and bought being more special than 'everything's available' these days. Not that I'm saying 'go away Spotify, just let me wait for weeks for single releases again' of course
  18. It's a difficult one as to which I 'prefer'.

    As a kid, it was the accepted norm that you'd hear a song for the first time on CD:UK or The Box after reading about it in Smash Hits, wait to see it a few more times on TV and build up to a massively front loaded release, go to a store and buy your CD1/2/MC, wait for the chart on Sunday and see where it got to and then it was almost like the act would almost immediately disappear - we've made top 10, let's down tools and have a few weeks break to start for prep for the next single. There was a lot more excitement and anticipation for me. What would the b-sides/remixes sound like? Would there be a poster? What will the cover look like? What will the dance routine be like?

    Now, acts don't have to do anything if they don't want to - they can make an Instagram post with "Song out 17/10, link in bio" and bounce. You go to iTunes or Spotify, press a button and bam; there's your music! There's no tortuous wait times, you don't have to leave the house and you can be bopping within minutes. Then they can start promo and build to a longer lasting release that may not chart as high but can outsell your previous #1 singles.

    I think in my heart, I'll always have a soft spot for going and buying a single probably through nostalgia mainly. Back when the biggest decisions in my life were 'do I buy CD1 or CD2?' or when I was really lucky, both. Getting a selection of b-sides and remixes, some kind of incentive like a postcard, an interactive element on one of the CDs - that was all so exciting for me as a kid and even though I love the fact that I can get a song immediately now, it has dulled the excitement slightly and has kind of spoilt me in the sense that I'll want more and more at a quicker pace.

    TL:DR; I like both for different reasons.
  19. I love that I got to make those memories as a kid. I mean, even my 16 year old sister has no recollection of that era. It was a totally different time. But the internet was always going to dictate how things evolved, not just in music but in TV, film and beyond. You can have the exact same conversation about nostalgia for going to Blockbuster to rent a film. Or having to wait a week between TV episodes.

    If anything, I'd say the concept that we're talking about here had already started clashing with the digital era by the early to mid-2000s. There's a reason piracy was such a huge issue. People had the means to get the music there and then, and that's what they wanted. Shockingly, it really wasn't until 2015 that this new universal module was put in place and actually worked. For nearly ten years the industry had been struggling with the digital platforms and using old fashioned release strategies, all the while complaining that their artists music was being stolen.
    Island, -Jay-, JMRGBY and 1 other person like this.
  20. It's called delayed gratification. Something today's kids will never understand!

    It was sometimes frustrating, but of course you could always tape the video off The Box or the song off the radio if you were desperate. And of course they were performed all over the place whereas there's less opportunities for that now.

    Music video channels were the place to be after school! Could spend hours watching them.

    You had to be a bit clever about choosing which single to buy if it was a busy week (which was most weeks). Maybe if it getting close to the release of a Now album you'd go for a more obscure song rather than one that was likely to be on it. If I had £3 pocket money sometimes I'd have to decide between spending £2.99 for one CD or getting 3 cassettes for 99p each. The amount of time I'd stand in front of the new releases agonising! You've already got this on the album! But it's got the radio edit and the CD Rom!
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