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XTRA Debate: When should a winner release follow up material?

What is the best strategy for a follow-up single/album?

Last week, Netta revealed she is due to release the long-awaited follow-up single to ‘Toy’. The song, initially scheduled for the summer but pushed back to 2019, will be released almost a year on from ‘Toy’ being released. Compared to other recent winners of the contest, this timeframe is pretty late… But is there a correct schedule to release further musical material?

There is no question of a doubt that Netta’s victory has been monumental. At the time of writing, the music video has over 103 million views, the most viewed video on the Eurovision Youtube channel by far. The use of looping, contemporary message of the song and the surrealist performance has led to chart success across the continent. This also includes a number one spot in the American charts!

Despite this huge success and incredibly popular remix videos like below, we haven’t yet had any other original material. A decent argument can be made that a looping remix of songs is a form of original material, but I’ll park that for now. How have other winners negotiated the success of the winning song against a wider body of work?

Capitalising success of a single?

I think for all acts who participate in the Eurovision Song Contest, there is a fine balancing act to be made. The three-minute performance on stage is what Europe (and Australia) will know you for. An introduction to your musicality and artistry. Therefore, it makes sense that an act would try and plug the song as much as viably possible.

The exception to this rule, of course, are established acts who audiences would probably be familiar with their musical style and back catalogue.

Most audiences were probably more familiar with Cascada’s discography than Emmelie de Forest

Nevertheless, it makes total sense that Eurovision participants try to utilise and even exploit the guaranteed large audience to enter new musical markets. ‘Euphoria’ is one of the most iconic winning songs this century, as proven again by the recent ESC250 results. The song had huge success across Europe and even managed to chart in Japan! However, fans desperate for more ethereal work from Loreen had to wait until October to get a new follow-up single.

However, there is a danger to this approach.

Clinging to the success of a single song, without the addition of more content can lead to an act being a ‘one-hit wonder’. Ironically, the great success of one song can undermine a long-term career.

Transitional power of an album

Albums offer a wider body of work, and thus require a lot more time and commitment to create and consequently release. However, that did not stop a handful of winners ensure that an album would be ready before, by or just after the contest. Conchita Wurst released an album mere days after her victory. Emmelie de Forest released her album a week or so prior to the final! Meanwhile, Jamala and Måns waited until June.

But why is an album possibly more important than a single? A collection of tracks, perhaps with an accompanying music video, can reduce the fatigue that may occur via the saturation of listening to the same song over and over again. An album can act as a mode of transition for audiences and fans alike. An artist is no longer seen as just a ‘Eurovision entrant’, but an independent act in their own right. However, waiting too long and an act could lose relevance. Though a Eurovision winner would probably retain a high level of interest in their nation of origin and Eurovision fans alike, there is a window of opportunity for maximum exposure. This is obviously common sense. How long that window is, however, is fully dependent of the success of the winning song.

Side-note: Did you know that Bonnie Tyler had a new album released during Malmo 2013? Milk and Honey! It was mentioned in almost every interview or press event. Clearly, a part of the reason the Welsh songstress participated was to help get the word out there!

External Circumstances

Circumstances beyond the artist, and their respective management, can and do influence when more music can be released. An obvious recent example would be Salvador Sobral, who has battled severe health issues. In in Kyiv, his sister Luísa stood in for him during rehearsals. Following his win for Portugal, Salvador ended up cancelling a number of shows due to poor health. A live album was not released until December 2017. This is also the same month as receiving a new heart. It goes without saying that his health clearly impacted the speed in which new material could be released.

Nick: The sooner, the better

When it comes to new material from Eurovision winners, I often feel they’re waiting too long. Most people in Europe will by now remember Netta as ‘that woman who won with the chicken sounds’. I doubt there will be a major interest in her follow-up outside her native Israel, mainly because she waited too long to release new stuff.

Now I know, as an artist, you don’t want to be forced into releasing something you’re not happy with. Somehow, you could get the feeling that that is exactly what happened with Loreen. The “Euphoria” hype went on so long that she did indeed have more time than other winners to release a follow-up. As her next European single, the label however decided to re-release her failed Melodifestivalen entry from 2011, “My Heart Is Refusing Me”. It didn’t do well, but one could’ve expected that, really?

Success story

Looking at someone who did a stellar job at releasing a follow-up is Lena. Her album was released a few weeks ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest 2010 in Oslo and hit top five in six different countries. She soon released her second and third album (in 2011 and 2012), all of which went to become #1 or #2 on the German charts. She then became an established artist in Germany, which gave her more time for a third album.

The most important thing about your next singles or album as a Eurovision winner is to make sure people don’t forget about you. Don’t disturb the hype of your Eurovision entry, but don’t wait too long. Fame is temporary if you don’t deal with it properly. Work hard for a couple of years to establish your name once and for all, like Lena did.

Is Lena the poster child of the perfect strategy?

What do you think is the best strategy for winners or other Eurovision acts to release new material? Let us know in the comments or on social media @ESCXTRA!

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