That’s the Holy Grail, isn’t it?
Here’s the thing - as you know, musicians or people with a real interest in music will appreciate the work and listen to a full album. The masses won’t, unless they were told they should.
It’s always been like this. That’s why this kind of crap compilation sold millions, before and during the internet, got to number 75 apparently and still exists somehow:
The masses who have no clue about what it takes musicians* to make music don’t assign any value to it. They just want something utterly disposable they can dance to or use as background for whatever other activity.
*side note: real musicians - I’m not talking about “producers”, which is fast becoming one on my most hated words, aka people who do what I call Lego music, putting loops/samples from someone else together and calling that their music
So the hard part is to go after the people who care and create some kind of fan base, which is way more difficult when you’re not touring, as it needs relentless efforts and people are more likely to buy your stuff if they’ve actually interacted with you in some ways.
I think it may be @canecreek who mentioned 90-95% of listens on his EP were songs #1 and #2. I’ve seen that on my album too. That’s why I change the “featured” Bandcamp song from time to time. In any case, unless you instantly grab someone’s attention (the hardest thing, obviously), 90%+ of the people who don’t know you or have not interacted with you in some ways will just quickly skim through songs, think “I’ll listen to that later” when they like it and proceed to firget about it within 30 minutes as they’re on to the next artist/album/song/whatever.
Anyhoo, you get the idea and I’m pretty sure you know all that.
I often say, about many topics: “choose your battles”.
There are some that can’t be won and “getting many strangers to listen to a full album” is one of them, unless you are able to pull a LOT of relentless marketing work, tour semi-constantly, be ready to live precariously and killing any chance at a career that can give you a decent living. Because being a “waiter/musician/actor” in your 20’s is fine but in your 40’s? That’s rather pathetic, frankly - I’ve seen too many and the bitterness is incredible. Finally, your music has to be somewhat in the ballpark of what’s popular at the time. Making instrumental music that’s not basic club music is another way to make sure you can forget widespread success, BTW
Long post was long. It’s Saturday morning, woo-hoo! Hope you all have a nice day