A waterfall release strategy is when an EP or album has the appearance of being released gradually, with one track added at a time until the full release is made available when the final track is added.
In practice, a waterfall release is actually a series of independent releases, with each release distributed separately; it is not actually one release having tracks added to it (as that’s not possible), but a series of different products being released over a period of time.
This is particularly useful on Spotify, as it allows the “latest release” on the artist page to be replaced by multiple releases over time as more tracks get released.
Because of track-linking, if the same WAV recordings / ISRCs for the previously released tracks are used on each new product, the stream counts will transfer over to each new version of your release as it appears on Spotify, meaning your play-counts across all versions count towards your overall stream count.
Let’s look at an example; Phoebe Bridgers album ‘Punisher’ employed a Waterfall strategy –
Single #1 – Garden Song
Single #2 – Kyoto (with Garden Song as track 2)
Single #3 – I See You (with Kyoto & Garden song as tracks 2 & 3)
Album – Punisher (with Garden Song, Kyoto, and I See You on it)
In doing this, Phoebe Bridgers accumulated plays across each of those 4 versions increased each time, because the play-counts are linked. A play of Garden Song on either of those 3 singles (or the album) counts towards the overall stream count of that track, etc.
It also means each time Phoebe Bridgers releases a new single, she is still guaranteeing more streams for the previously released singles, as they’ll automatically play after fans check out the newest track if they click through to the newest release.
Furthermore, given that via Spotify for Artists, you’re only able to pitch 1 track from a forthcoming release – in utilising this Waterfall Release method, you can maximise the amount of tracks you can pitch to Spotify’s editors for potential playlist inclusion. 3 releases means 3 tracks being submitted for editorial review, vs. 1 release with 3 tracks; you can only pitch 1 of these tracks for consideration by the editorial team.
To set up Waterfall releases, we would generally recommend:
1. Add Release A (with single/track #1) to our system, this will be whatever track(s) you wish to go live first in the strategy.
2. Add Release B (with single/track #2 as the first track) to our system, and add single/track #1 as track 2 on it – ensure that the metadata for ‘single/track #1’ is identical on this version as it was on the previous version: things like track title, composer name, ISRC, WAV file are all important here.
3. Once you’re happy that the play-counts have transferred over from Release A to Release B for single/track #1, you can either choose to have us remove Release A from DSPs, or leave it there, it is entirely up to you; just let us know!
4. Repeat this process for however many times you wish to ‘waterfall’ or ‘drip-feed’ the tracks from your EP/Album – so Release C might have single/track #3 as the first track, single/track #2 as the second track, and single/track #3 as the third track, etc.
Waterfalling is a great strategy to maximise your play-counts, increase the amount of times you’re able to pitch music to editors, and to generate a buzz about your release with your fans.
If you’re interested in this strategy, we’d recommend creating a voucher within your EmuBands account by converting some of your royalties, if you can. When you convert a portion of your royalties into a voucher, we’ll top up the value of the voucher by 25%, helping your money to go further! You can use vouchers to pay for distribution and/or your subscription plan.