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It’s time to delete your unreleased songs playlist — and go to Phoenix Lights instead

Updated: Mar 2

By Anna Olp

For many people, listening to unreleased music feels like it’s as close to the authentic artist as you can get. Music that’s untainted by the constraints of a record label creates a close bond with the listener, but what does it mean for the artists on the other side?

Unreleased music is music that hasn’t been featured on an album, EP, or single and is not available on the artist’s profile on streaming services. Instead, sometimes these songs are uploaded to streaming sites like Spotify by people using loopholes in the music uploading process. One genre in particular that is notorious for its unreleased songs is EDM.

In the genre of EDM, it’s quite common to see unreleased songs with a cult-like following among fans. Songs by artists like Skrillex and Martin Garrix have lived in the ether of unreleased music for years, drawing attention from threads of unreleased music shared by Reddit users

While this music is fun to listen to, it is not beneficial for artists. Ethan Whitteny is a singer-songwriter and a senior popular music major at Arizona State University with unreleased music of his own. 

“If you aren’t an affluent artist, these playlists are really hard to take down, and even if you are, they’re not easy, and there’s a whole behind-the-scenes battle to get rid of them from the internet,” Whitney said. “Listening to unreleased songs undermines artists' creativity and the earnings they deserve.”

However, not all hope is lost for unreleased music. One of the best ways to hear artists' new tracks the way they’re meant to be heard is by hearing them live. Listening to unreleased songs in these settings eliminates any creative undermining because they're coming straight from the source. When artists choose to play new or unreleased music at a live show, it’s because they want you to hear it. If you’re listening anywhere else, it’s more likely that they don’t. 

Live EDM music festivals like PHX Lights: Supernova, held in Avondale, Arizona, are the best opportunity to hear unreleased songs. Because festivals bring attendees in the tens of thousands, it’s a great place for artists to bring attention to new or unreleased music. 

A force that can combine with live shows to help artists use unreleased music as a tool is social media. Concertgoers have been recording sets on their phones since phones have had cameras, and posting these videos to social media is a great way for users to show friends that they attended a concert. Artists can use videos of unreleased music to gain traction for a song they might release in the near future. 

“I think using unreleased music as a teaser to eventually release music is also extremely helpful in getting your audience hyped for the release of the song; almost every artist does this on their social media prior to releasing the song or album,” Whitney said. 

A great example of this strategy succeeding also lives in the world of EDM. Artists Rezz and Subtronics recently collaborated on a single called ‘Black Ice,’ and as far back as a month before the song was released to streaming platforms, both artists played the song at their live shows. 

Here in Arizona, Subtronics performed the unreleased song at Decadence Music Festival. Fans of Subtronics knew halfway through this set that he hadn't played the track yet and were eagerly waiting to hear it. When the song did start playing, many phones went up above the crowd to start recording. Some of these clips were posted to social media, and others may have been kept for the pleasure of listening to the song again without having to wait for Subtronics to release it. Rezz herself posted a clip of the unreleased song on TikTok, gaining nearly 50,000 likes. 

Decadence, a New Year's Eve festival, was also graced with unreleased tracks from Loud Luxury, Slander, and Level Up to celebrate the holiday. 

Performers Deorro and Seven Lions will be performing at PHX Lights on March 29th and 30th, and both have their share of unreleased music fans may hope to hear. Deorro first played his remix of the song Ella Baila Sola at EDC Las Vegas in May 2023 and has yet to release it on streaming platforms. While recorded versions of the song can be played online, the best way to listen to songs like this is at live performances. 

Seven Lions has possibly one of the most anticipated unreleased songs of the festival. The track is tentatively titled “Not Even Love” in collaboration with ILLENIUM, who also performed at Decadence. This track was recently played at ILLENIUM's "Trilogy" concert at SoFi Stadium on Feb. 4. 

Catching these songs live doesn't just sound better in person; supporting an artist in concert is also the best way to hear the rawest form of their art, and experience the full feeling of unreleased music. 


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