Lead single

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A lead single is usually the first single released by a musician or a band from or before a given album. Sometimes, the lead single is not the first single, which could be a radio promotion that ends up being part of an EPK.

The lead single is special compared to other album-derived singles because the lead single will often be released before the rest of the actual album, in order to give listeners a taste of what is yet to come. This is not always the case, but it tends to be common practice with North American popular music, particularly throughout the 1990s and the 2000s with album-oriented artists.

Lead singles are often the deciding factor for consumers when deciding whether or not to purchase a not-yet-released album. That is one of the reasons why an artist's decision on what song to use for the lead single is an important one, since a disappointing lead single can turn off many potential buyers, whereas a successful one can build up anticipation for the upcoming album and hopefully persuade consumers to purchase the album when it is released.

In the 2000s, it has become a common trend to release a lead single months in advance of the album release date. It has even become common for the 2nd single to be released before the release of the album. With album sales declining year after year, record labels are taking advantage of the booming singles market. Online retail stores such as iTunes encourage record labels to release singles in advance as they are available to...
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