How Much Is Too Much?

"So from now on write music constantly, post it online, every live show, keep feeding the beast. If you know exactly what resonates with your audience, you’re wrong, you must experiment to find out, and keep doing so." - Bob Lefsetz

How Much Is Too Much?

Picture the 17 year old version of yourself.  What albums did you wear out?  For me it was Hysteria by Def Leppard and Empire by Queensryche.  I was a huge fan of both bands.  Now let me ask you this:

What were the names of the albums that those bands released next?  

Give up?  I can't remember either, and I just said that I was a huge fan.  Why?

Because there was an almost 5 year gap between albums.  5 years!  Authors in the past weren't much different.  What's the name of the book that Dan Brown released after The Da Vinci Code?  I can't remember that either.  

As a creative person, you probably realize that you need to release more material than your forerunners.  But...

How Much Is Too Much?

Do you agree with Mr. Lefsetz that you need to constantly feed the beast?

Obviously, you don't want to release crap, but I think prolific, consistent output is the way to go.

If you released a new piece of visual art, a song, short story, blog post, or podcast every week, would anybody care?  Would some people be turned off by the frequency?  I think the answer is yes to both of those questions.  But we should worry more about the folks who care and ignore the people that don't.  

So what do you think?

How Much Is Too Much?

Let me know by replying in the comments below.  

Now, I'm off to go listen to Def Leppard and Queensryche.  By the way, those albums were Adrenalize and Promised Land, respectively.  They're not nearly as good as their predecessors.  

Have a great week!
John Anealio


  1. Hey John,

    Personally, I think what you have in you is what you release.

    The problem before the internet sometimes was that companies would restrict artists. Look at Prince. For a long time, he was releasing at least an album a year of high quality music, in addition to singles with just as many tracks as the albums. He seemed like he was on tour forever. Warner Bros didn't appreciate how much music he released because it was harder to sell that much musical output; they weren't going to get Purple Rain numbers if he released a new album every 10 months. That's when he changed his name to a symbol,trying to get out of his contract so he could release as much music as he wanted to.

    The success and quality of his output since leaving the large record publisher is a whole different kettle of fish to deal with. Hmmmm.

    BTW, since you have mentioned Queensryce, you should check out their new self-titled album. It's a return to form for them. They have a new singer who does the Queensryche sound better than Geoff Tate has been able to in a long time, and has helped them bring back the metal sound that they started with. It's a big improvement over everything since Promised Land (don't even get me started on the fact that there are two bands named Queensryche right now, or that lawsuit between the band and Geoff makes my brain hurt).

    Whew! Thanks for getting me started this morning.


    With fiendish delight,

    Spooky Mizu

    1. Prince is an excellent example. I think nowadays, it makes more sense for an artist to release a lot of material, but back then, they were afraid that they would flood the market.

      I'm aware of all of the Queensryche drama, but haven't given either album a decent listen yet. In my opinion, they haven't been the same since Chris DeGarmo left the band.

      Thanks for the thoughtful response!

  2. good post old man lol, saw hysteria in concert... and what about the albums before that album? by 1982 I was just catching up on r.e.m. and listening to pirate radio? and new wave surfer music, I think it's not about too much, necessarily, but more about the flow to the artist.. but the commercial entity always wants more.. yes? so this email/ post was worth all the others, to say, just to get to this point..

  3. A couple of albums come to mind when you ask which albums I wore out in my teenage years. Automatically my mind goes to Automatic for the People by REM. Disintegration by the Cure, of course, and August and Everything After by the Counting Crows.

    I think a steady output is desirable. But you might look to comedy instead of music for a guide. Big-time musicians can go years between albums because they can tour on their old material - case in point I don't know if Steve Miller has put out a new album in the 20 years, but they're still playing shows.

    Comedians are not so lucky. For everyone who has told me they aren't big fans of 30 Rock I say that not everything Tina Fey does can be a pitch-perfect satire of culture and politics. And even though George Carlin was an icon with a Supreme Court case named after him, he still had to play small roles like a gay neighbor in Prince of Tides to pay the bills.

    Comedians have to create just to keep working. Not everything they do is a hit, but for the most part nobody holds their work-a-day material against their career-defining successes.

    I'm STILL waiting for a follow-up to Dennis Leary's No Cure for Cancer. That was another of the CDs that I played constantly.

    1. I love Disintegration! One of my favorite albums. Have to give that one a listen now.

      Looking at comedians is an excellent idea! I follow Adam Carolla and Jay Mohr as much as I do my favorite musicians. Thank you Matthew, I'm going to run with that idea!

  4. By way of offering my answer, I should note that because I'm older than a lot of your audience (safe bet), the choice of age 17 as the tipping point is really amazing -- that would have been 1963. In 1964, the Beatles had their first chart toppers. And everything changed about the way young people were relating to music.

    I was essentially a typical teen of the times. Prior to the arrival of the Beatles, music was really important to me (so I guess it's more accurate to say that I was typical of the music-loving teen of my time; I wasn't a sports addict or science dweeb who ignored the radio.) We listened to the radio constantly, we visited the record store regularly, we had favorites spread out across the R&B, surf rock, and pop sounds of the day. But nobody made a "mix tape", we were too young to go to clubs and usually too poor to see a lot of concerts. So a lot of the usual signs of devotion didn't exist then; hell, "albums" hardly existed in the consciousness of the listener -- everything was really singles oriented, and popular singles were like shooting stars that blazed up and then gently burned to ash, to be replaced by the next one -- the next one by the same artist, or the next one from someone else entirely. That didn't much matter to us. With the possible exception of Elvis, music appreciation didn't so much mean tracking an artist's output and knowing the order of the releases (or what they did in their private life, like being inducted into the armed forces). That's one of the many music-related activities that became standard once the Beatles made the teen music fan into one of the most important people in the (commercial) world.

    Back then, the only way to stay in touch with the fans was to release music, and play the supporting concerts. There was very little opportunity for the kind of incessant, optionally non-musical, ways of staying in touch with your audience that the internet offers in the form of blogs, Facebook and Twitter (not to mention Youtube clips of every variety.) So recording artists released tons of stuff then, and the quality was incredibly variable ... even at the time, kids used to comment about how albums were chocked with filler and seemed like excuses to milk the most out of one or two tunes. My feeling about the internet for artists is that it allows you to create many ways of staying in touch with your fan base that would never require you to release sub-standard musical material ... whether you are sharing your skills/output as a photographer, a poet, a cook, or a fan of something obscure like medieval weaponry that you learned about doing RPG, there's always a way to stay in touch ... the way friends stay in touch, actually.

    I think the really important take-away from your original question is: we should worry more about the folks who care and ignore the people that don't.
    Just in the same way a short note or joke that you share with a friend will be received differently by someone who doesn't know you or care about you -- but you shouldn't let that change how you interact with your friends. Just reach out -- maybe the music you will share with them is just you telling them about some other artists who have really impressed you, rather than one of your own creations. The important thing is: stay in touch, just like friends do. And appreciate the internet for making it possible.

    Always a delight to read and respond to your questions, John -- thanks!

  5. At 17 I listened to several mix-tapes friends made me of various tunes and genres (rap, hip-hop, rock, classical, really...whatever suited my mood. And I was a teen so that was all over the place). And NIN Downward Spiral. I always started my day with a little Trent senior year.

    At the moment I follow a couple of musicians that upload musical content on YouTube, but I don't always check out their latest stuff. So, it doesn't matter to me how often they upload. I DO like weekly uploads from YouTube comedy people I follow. I also follow a few authors because they write a series I enjoy and want to find out what happens next like Jim Butcher. Once a year for those books is good, but I'm patient if it means good writing. But I don't care to follow these people on social media because I don't really care about their personal lives. They could tweet stuff everyday and I wouldn't know.

    You ask a good question, but I don't know the answer.

    For my own musical self, I need strict deadlines. Last year I started uploading one video a week. I recorded new songs, old songs that had never been recorded before, covers, previously recorded concerts I had forgotten to upload... anything that struck my fancy that week and i wanted to practice enough to make a video to post on YouTube, and then link to my Facebook account. Sometimes people responded, mostly just some "likes" on facebook.

    I enjoyed it. I was thinking of doing weekly live short concerts once a week during the day. Will anyone watch or care? Does it matter if it's once a month? Everyday? I have no idea, but as long as it keeps me excited about my music..:)

    1. Thanks for sharing Rebecca!

      I fear that releasing too much will burn people out. There's certainly a balance, but I feel like it probably makes the most sense to release more rather than less. People can always dip in when they want and ignore it when they are too busy.

      Best of luck with your live concert videos!

  6. I pretty much wore out my Hysteria cassette as well! ^_^

    I find my listener base wants MORE content. Of course, I probably should create more songs as opposed to spending as much time as I do on social media.

    1. Yeah, if Def Leppard released new material every week back in the day, I would have ate it up. It least I think I would have.

      I've actually owned at least three copies of Hysteria over the years. :-)

      Best of luck with everything Errol; and get off Twitter and write a song! :-)

  7. I've learned as I've grown and developed my art, that spamming endless amounts of it, especially if its not the best, seems to be counterproductive. So I'm learning to be more parsimonious with what I share.

  8. As first an avid podcast listener and now a podcaster, I can at least say that consistency makes a big difference. It is important to set up expectations. If you say you are only going to release one album a year, then people who like your music will look forward to it. If you say you are going to release a podcast every week or every two weeks, then you will have listeners who look forward to that release. Now, of course, you need to have content for it. If that one album a year is half full of crap or if the weekly podcast is half full of rambling discussions with friends, there will probably be people who still listen, but you will lose listeners. However, if you have a weekly podcast, for example, with an hour of really high quality techno, you'll probably have a pretty good following. Finding an hour's worth of good quality techno each week is a whole 'nother issue. Anyway, that's my two cents: it's all about consistency.

    1. Agreed. Consistency and frequency is really important. It's one of the things that I'm trying to figure out.

  9. Great post as always John. You have to keep shipping it out. I have just made my own video for a dance single re-mix and I have had to deal with so many issues such as -I dont have a track record in this market, I am clueless what to do next, am I not too old to be releasing a dance single.. and that does not include my friends helpful remarks such as 'There is no money in music any more', 'I am leaving the music industry as the digital publishing deal has harmed the possibility of being able to have a full time living on this etc etc.
    The truth though is your art has to get out there. So yesterday I finished my home made video uploaded onto Youtube, yes I was scared that then I have to contact friends, social media and contacts with it so they actually hear what I have been doing in the studio.. but I am also proud that I have actually got here.
    We could have spent months more trying to get it 'perfect' but I am now glad it is out there.
    I did 'cheat' a little as I have been doing some live podcast coaching sessions with a coach to help me get over my fears, that has really helped. They on my site if people want to hear, but I think having some positive friends in your corner egging you on is so important.

    Keep up with the great work John!! And the point about comedians is very true, I was one - and even your most avid fans who turn up to support you like to hear a new joke occasionally

    1. Thanks Marysia,

      Glad to hear that your shipping your work too. My fear is always that it's not perfect and that I'm going to annoy people with too much, but I'm learning that we don't have control over how people perceive our work and it seems more sense to release more rather than less.

      Best of luck with everything!

  10. I didn't get Promised Land, I was thinking Q2K - which shows the impact PL had on me. Mind you I loved Operation Mindcrime more than Empire which I thought was quite commercial.

    The anticipation of a new album, the teasers and stuff, they all add to the excitement. However, I loved the way My Chemical Romance released their last 'album' - they released two songs each month for five months. Talk about impatient for the following month and it was great having something to look forward to for an extended length of time.

    Releasing in drips works for comics.

    1. Cool. That is a good way to release an album. It does seem to be the way that we are wired as a culture now.

      Thanks for your input!