In the first installment of our newly updated Musician’s Guide to Marketing Plans we addressed the overlooked importance of having a marketing plan and went through the first five of fifteen elements to keep in mind when planning a new release.
In part 2, we will be addressing the next five elements for promoting new music. This can be a single, a music video, an EP, or an album.
The Second 5 Elements: Ordering the Chaos
The next 5 elements that need to be addressed before any official announcements should be made about new music coming out are:
- Social Media
- Press & Promotion
If you didn’t get the chance to read through Part 1 we encourage you to please do so before reading this.
1 & 2. TIMELINE AND RELEASE
We have condensed these 2 elements as they go together like cookies and milk.
Plan some milestones starting two months before the release date, and have some benchmarks for at least one month after the album comes out. Here is how this could look:
Two Months Before Release
Are you Registered?
Contact an entertainment lawyer to make sure your copyrights are secure and register your music with ASCAP, BMI or Sesac.
Start by rounding up as many people as you can to your socials and newsletter.
This is a practice that you should get in the habit of and your whole band should be helping (if you have band social accounts). Find your friends and people you admire (bloggers, other artists, venues, local spots you like to hang out in, etc.) on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and friend away! This will increase your audience because as many of the people you follow will follow you back. If you have not curated lists on Twitter, make some to keep track of your favorites. Also, start reaching out to people in your inbox and outbox and get them on your list (remember it’s illegal to just sign people up so do this with integrity and ask each person).
Your newsletter is the place where you will be able to monetize so, don’t skip this step. Here is Ariel’s comprehensive Newsletter lesson from Social Media House.
Next, Take Everyone along on the Journey With You
People like to follow along to real life stories (case and point: reality TV). It’s a great way to form a stronger bond with your current and growing base.
Send updates on how the recording, mixing and mastering is going using videos and photos via your socials, plus capture longer form stories for your blog and newsletter. Engage with your following on milestones like artwork and song titles by polling your fans (Twitter has a new polling feature which is pretty cool!) and holding contests to select what cover or title to go with. The goal of all this activity is to get people excited so they are engaging and sharing your updates with their friends.
One Month to 6 Weeks Before Release
This is a great way to build buzz, get fans excited, and also get some music bloggers interested. Any reviews you can place will help build your overall online profile. On the press side of the house aim for appropriate blog targets. If you are a brand new artist Pitchfork is probably NOT appropriate. Go for smaller, more targeted music blogs!
That being said, be sure to reach out to your “within reason” dream targets with your single(s). It’s not the best idea to wait to reach out to these loftier sites with your album. Album reviews take a considerable amount of time and, if you look, most music sites are reserving these full album review slots for the most anticipated albums.
Announce a Release Event – Live Show or Listening Party
If you play live shows, book a release show and do something to make this show more special than the others. Decorate the venue, work with the bar to create a special shot or cocktail, pre-sell a merch pack, hire a party bus, ask a food truck to pull outside the venue, etc.
If you don’t play out, create a listening party at a small bar, create an after work happy hour, or choose a local favorite. If you are just starting and don’t think you can draw a large crowd, hold a listening house party with wine tasting, cupcake bake-off, fondue party, etc.
Think about your fans and make this special for them! And, of course, the key is to announce that tickets are on sale.
Press Campaign Begins
If you are hiring a PR team – work on the strategy with them or if you plan to do it yourself it’s time to prepare – Download the Ultimate Guide to Music Publicity
Start Your Pre-Sale Campaign
Send word out through your newsletter and socials.
Create a Facebook Invite
Create a Facebook Invite for the new release, send it to all your Facebook friends and cross-post on your Page.
Two Weeks Before Release
Build the Momentum!
Keep the excitement up on socials by scheduling a countdown. Hold a contest to win the new music or give away tickets to your show or listening party.
On Release Day
- Write a post or make a fun video about the release and post on your website
- Send out a newsletter announcement to your mailing list
- Skin your socials with “out now!” and artwork (Use canva to help you)
- Update all socials with an “out now” post and images with links to purchase
One Month After Release
Keep the momentum going!
Again, the more activities you can plan leading up to the release and after it drops will help continue your story and profile building. The more press and social media-worthy points you can arrange for after a release will keep contacting press with new content, while at the same time reminding them about the new album.
Also, don’t forget to ask your family, friends and fans to write reviews of your new album on iTunes, Amazon or CD Baby, and other digital retailers when it becomes available. Studies have shown that albums that are reviewed on iTunes actually sell more albums.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA
Just because you may not have a big “news” item (for example: a new release) doesn’t mean you should stop communicating with your fans on a regular basis.
Newsletters should still be going out once a month, blog posts being posted, and socials should never go stale.
You should be updating daily and updating also means responding to and interacting with others.
In addition, to all the content we have gone over in this guide, post about things happening in your personal life, repost interesting articles or news items or post a song from a band that you love. News, food celebrity gossip, parenting, fashion, art, and sports all make good topics for people to engage and connect around. Let your personality show!
Social Media rules are constantly changing and shifting (hello Facebook) so make sure you keep up on social trends so that you are not using antiquated techniques.
We love Mashable, Social Media Today, and Social Media Examiner.
4. PRESS & PROMOTION
Your PR Plan
A big component when promoting a new album is of course getting PR. You can accomplish this by hiring a team or by going the DIY route. When hiring a PR team make sure you do your homework and make sure your music is a good fit with that firm’s approach and philosophy. Be sure that the team talks to you about their well-thought-out plan for your campaign.
A PR company should work with you to make sure you are fully prepared before you are introduced to the press. This is the first part of their job when you engage.
If you’re going with a do-it-yourself approach here are some tips for an effective campaign:
Make sure you have at least 3-4 great images and variety is important. Most music blogs feature square or horizontal photos. When getting photos taken think through your brand and think about variety to keep your images fresh as time goes by.
Bio / Your Signature Story
This series is packed with DIY tips, but we suggest hiring a professional to write your bio, which we call a signature story around here. Even if you are a strong writer, it can be challenging to write about yourself. A professional writer will be able to craft a compelling bio that effectively conveys all the important details while keeping the audience in mind, which in this case includes press and music industry folks.
The first people to target should be local press and press outlets that have written about you in the past (if applicable). When contacting blogs make it personal. Be sure to research which writer/journalist of the site is the best or most appropriate to reach out to (if applicable) . Before you start talking about your music be sure to address why you approached them and not some other blog. ALWAYS include a Soundcloud link to either your single or album. If your album/EP is unreleased, you can include a private Soundcloud link to the album/EP in a private playlist. Follow up approximately once a week and if you’ve received some press since the last time you contacted them, be sure to include a link in your follow up email.
Then as we touched on in Part 1, plan ahead so you will have content for multiple press outreaches such as a new music video, remixes, or tour dates, as you don’t want to repeat the same message about the new music.
Words of Warning About Press Releases
Please DON’T write and pay to distribute a press release. Press releases are relics of the past and are not favored by music bloggers. Press releases are great if you have something truly newsworthy and releasing an EP, single or album is actually not “news” (even though it is extremely important to you).
Building a Targeted Media List
There are many ways to start building a targeted media list. One method – identify a musician or band that is slightly further along and fits into your musical wheelhouse, and take note of the press outlets that they are getting featured on. There is a great chance that those publications may also feature you.
Spotify has an entire site dedicated to helping you learn how to get established in the Spotify ecosystem. Start here with their guides and best practices.
If you are already building through touring, continue to tour, hitting the same markets that you played while supporting the new music to build on the momentum that has been made. Martin Atkins has the BEST book on touring called Tour Smart. If you don’t have it, get it! We also love this post from Ari Herstand.
There are undoubtedly limitations though on how often you can tour and you more than likely won’t be able to tour to every market where there are fans.
And many artists are not touring at all, so if this is the case for you – you can consider virtual shows and live streaming.
Now that you have the second 5 outline, download our checksheet to see what you will need to prepare… Click on this image to get started now:
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