On Thursday, October 29th, it was announced that critical favorite and up-and-coming female country singer known by the singular name of Cam will be releasing her debut album Untamed through Sony/Arista Nashville on December 11th. Cam has created incredible interest in her career from the surprising radio hit “Burning House,” and has sparked tremendous intrigue from her subdued and progressive style, and her off-the-stage smarts in a country music environment looking for female talent to showcase.
Though the announcement of her debut album is something to celebrate for her fans, it also shows yet again how country music’s females, especially the non-established up-and-comers, are being treated as second class citizens by labels.
Historically, December is the absolute worst possible time to release an album. Due to a number of factors, including the holiday shopping season, the fact that so much of the music industry takes virtually the entire month off, so many music journalists and critics work significantly lighter schedules or go on vacation, and that critically-important end-of-year lists get aggregated early in the month and many times won’t include new releases, it makes December the proverbial dead zone on the music calendar.
Even most Christmas albums, or other music packages meant for holiday sales, are released in November to take advantage of Black Friday and the full breadth of the holiday shopping season. A non-Chrismas album released on December 11th is sure to get lost in the hustle and bustle, and be forgotten come next year for the 2016 end-of-year lists. This concern is especially true for Cam, who depends on critical praise for her success.
For example, in 2013, The Wire published an article called The 11 Best Months of the Year to Release Music. The twelfth month of course being December, which is the worst. As the publication explains, “When the big publications start unveiling their year-end lists at the very start of December (thus finalizing them the week or two prior), virtually any album released between mid-November and New Years Day lands in a critical dead zone.”
MusicThinkTank strongly discourages December releases because of “The Curse of the Best of Lists.” “There will be absolutely nothing on a media outlet’s mind outside of their favorite bands, songs and albums of the year” during December, they warn.
In a 2014 article posted by SonicBids, they talk about the “taboo” of December releases, but say they can still work, but only if, “
Timing can be everything in music, and time and again we see female artists in country getting significantly held back because of poor planning. Many of Kacey Musgraves’ recent singles were already dead at radio before the video for the song came out. Other debut and female album releases are purposely slated into the dead zones of the music calendar because label managers believe they won’t perform well to begin with. It is this systematical, logistical downgrading of female performers that is making the struggles of country’s women a self-fulfilling prophesy.
With the success and resonance Cam has shown with “Burning House,” her debut album deserves to be given every possible chance to succeeded. And because of her critical nature, her album is especially dependent on smart timing to make sure she receives the necessary press she deserves.