Do you have a plan for your next music release? This can be a single, a music video, an EP, or an album. In our most popular series The Musician’s Guide to Marketing Plans,
which we also call Total Tuneups we address the overlooked importance of having a marketing plan in place and went through the first five of fifteen elements to keep in mind when planning a music release.
Here in part 2, we break down the next five elements for releasing new music so you don’t miss a single opportunity.
Your Step-By-Step Music Release Timeline
If you didn’t get the chance to read through Part 1 – Release Preparation I encourage you to please do so before reading this. This series comes from many years of collaborating with record labels and brilliant managers. What we noticed separate the best teams who get results for their artists vs. the teams who are constantly floundering is planning. Back in the day when labels were more focused on artist development and in it for the long haul they had entire departments dedicated to planning and growth. Sadly today artists are expected to come to the table already developed with an engaged fanbase at their finf=gertips and a proven track record in every domain.
The Second Five – Ordering the Chaos
There are 15 elements to keep in mind when planning a new release – they break down into 3 groups of 5. These are the 5 areas that need to be addressed before any official announcements should be made about a new album, EP, or single coming out. To see these in more detail, download our roadmap and see how you add up.
We have an amazing course that will teach you step-by-step how to plan your next music release with ease. Read all about it here.
1. Your 12-Week Music Release Timeline
Planning is everything as you can’t stuff the genie back in the bottle after the release is out!
Three Months Before Music Releases
Register With A Performing Rights Organization.
You probably already know this but just in case – to collect your royalties you’ll need to sign with a both a Performing Rights Organization (“PRO” for short) and SoundExchange. The three options in the U.S. for PRO’s are ASCAP, SESAC and BMI.
For live royalties, BMI and ASCAP both offer portals to collect royalties from playing live. Once your songs are registered on the PRO database, you log in and enter any dates you have performed those songs, where they were performed, and which songs. The PRO companies payout quarterly so be sure to enter the performances soon after they are through, otherwise, you could miss a deadline!
You also have to register with SoundExchange, which focuses on royalties for your recording (mechanical rights), while your Performing Rights Organization focuses on royalties for your song (performance rights). Visit Soundexchange.com to register as an artist and publisher to collect on these future royalties.
Document the Recording & Creation Journey For Your Fans
What may feel mundane to you – writing, recording, mixing, mastering, being in the studio, etc. can be really exciting for your fans. Taking them on a behind-the-scenes journey of this music release is 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 Instagram Stories and for your newsletter.
Engage with your following on milestones like artwork and song titles by polling your fans and holding contests to select what cover or title to go with, have your fans weigh in on photos, graphics and get them involved with the process.
The goal of all this activity is to get people excited so they are engaging and sharing your updates.
Choose Your PR Plan
A big component when releasing new music is 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 for 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 a firm.
If you’re going with a do-it-yourself approach here are some tips for an effective music PR campaign:
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. Read our 5 – Steps guide here or We would be delighted to write one for you. If you feel like you still need a boost, listen to the Signature Story Webinar.
Music Press Outreach
The first people to target should be local press and outlets that have covered 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. Always include a Soundcloud link (set to private until your music is released). Follow our full music PR guide if you need more detail on how to handle this process.
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.
Build Your 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.
Learn how to do your own PR with Ariel in her amazing deep-dive course.
Choose Your Playlisting Plan
Submit Your Music Directly to Spotify
Simply sign into your artist account (or Spotify Analytics if you are a label) and choose your best song. When submitting take extra care to give a detailed description of the song supplying any and all relevant information about the song to easily guide editors to the best for place your music.
Build Your Own Playlisting Initiatives
If you don’t know all the steps to set up a playlist follow this step-by-step guide. Start building and sharing playlists. You need to build up plays as this impacts the current song that you are promoting, as well as any forthcoming singles. Use interesting titles and themes to grab people’s attention to aid with search
Find Playlist Curators & Pitch
This is of course easier said than done! It is not easy to find curators but it is possible with some dedication. Google and all the Socials are great places to start. Reddit has an active Spotify Playlists Page. There are also quite a few on SubmitHub you can access for a small fee.
Two Months Before Music Release
Get Great Photos
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.
Finalize your Single / Album / EP Artwork
Your Artwork should be ready and look on brand and amazing! Ask your designer to animate it, break it up into tiles for Instagram and or resize it for all your social posts.
Research Which Spotify PreSave / Marketing Platform is Right for You
You will need to run a campaign to get that Spotify track presaved! There are a bunch of great sites to choose from. Feature.FM has Action Pages to help build your audience – Click Here to create one. From The Site: Action Pages are highly engaging pages that reward fans for taking the actions you want in the platforms you want and provide you with deep insight into your audience. Toneden can also facilitate social media follows/likes and/or email addresses for free downloads. Learn more about the platform here. You can also optimize Facebook ads via Toneden, and customize those ads more than you can under the Facebook Ads Manager. Show.co is owned by CD Baby and is integrated so you can use it as well (we can discuss which pieces to pick and choose on coaching calls. The CD Baby Blog has a great article on the best ways to utilize it for marketing campaigns.
Focus on Increasing Your Audience
If you have been recording new music you may have taken your eye off of the constant grind it takes to keep your socials and your newsletter growing. This takes a lot of heavy lifting and your whole band or team should be helping.
Use my Social Media Tuneup system to diagnose each one of your sites and socials and get them updated.
If you have not kept up consistently 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.
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.
If you are having trouble growing your audience, it may be because you don’t actually know who they are and how to talk to them. This Step-By-Step action sheet will help you identify who your fans are and how to reach them. It includes 10 strategic, thought-provoking questions and walks you through how to identify your ideal fan archetype.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FAN ID EXERCISE
Prep Your Content Calendar
Your content calendar is outlined with all of the assets that you need for your release with dates for each asset/action needed. Countdowns, art reveals, listening party of live release party announcements, ticket links and calls to action (like Spotify Presaves) are all fodder to add to your content calendar.
Use my SMM tracker to organize all of your posts and your VIPS. This will help you keep track of all the content that you will post. You can see there is a tab for each platform. If there are several of you in a team or in a band, assign one platform per person. You will also see a VIP tab here this is where you will add industry people you need to connect with.
Six Weeks Before Music Release
Submit Your Music to Your Distributor
If you are leading this music release with a single (or two) make sure to let them know you are releasing a single(s) FIRST before the EP (if this is the case). You must have your single artwork ready at this time! Tunecore, CD Baby, and other aggregators like 4-5 weeks to pitch your music to iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Music, and other digital service providers (DSPs).
Launch a Facebook Like Campaign to Get More Followers to Your Page
Or if you have not done so in a long time go through your personal Facebook Page and ask all of your friends to Like your Page.
I know this may seem crazy to do during a time when Facebook is catching a lot of heat but promoters, venues, and music bloggers still look at social numbers so make sure yours are consistently growing (and don’t buy fake fans ever!)
One Month Before Music Release
Release Your First Single
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 so don’t feel disappointed if you don’t get full album / EP reviews (they are not en vogue these days)
Download and read our Spotify & SoundCloud Guide to make sure both of those platforms are set up correctly and you have done what you need to to get these working for you.
Announce a Music 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 coffee shop. 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 and share links!
Launch Your Music PR or Playlisting Campaign
This is a great way to build buzz, If you are hiring a PR team this will be when they will launch.
Two Weeks Before Music Release
Build the Momentum!
Keep the excitement up on your socials by scheduling countdowns across your socials.
Write your Day of Newsletter so it is ready to go out
Hold a contest to win the new music or give away tickets to your show or listening party.
2. Be Ready On Release Day!
On Music Release Day
Prep Your Website:
- Change the artwork on the landing page to announce the new music
- Add an announcement to the News section
Skin ALL socials with “out now!”
- Use Canva to size and design
- Create CTAs for each platform to post as well
- Change your bio to announce the release – add the musical note or an appropriate emoji too! Add streaming link and CTA to listen
- Create a release tile and post with the album / single art and say “out now”
- Create an Instagram Story video and post
- Go to Instagram Live and talk about the fact that the music is available and ask for fan feedback
- Make a fun video about the release – and Boost!
- Boost or Buy an Ad announcing the release to your fans and a look alike audience
- Edit the “About” section to include the new release
- Post a status update announcing your release, and pin it to the top as a timeline feature.
- Go to Facebook Live and talk about the fact that the music is available and ask for fan feedback
- Header and Profile Photo: Keep these up to date and in line with the rest of your social profiles.
- Image Gallery: Choose images most aligned with your brand and recent music.
- Social Media Links: Add links to your socials. Here’s a How To from Spotify on adding those and an image gallery.
- Spotify Bio: With 1500 characters to share with your fans, you can update this whenever it makes sense for you. Keep your bio updated, include shows, notable press, and new singles.
- Add an Artist’s Pick: You can designate a song, album, or playlist as the “Artist’s Pick.” This will appear at the top of your profile with a note from you. You can add a custom image to your Pick or share tour dates if preferred. Read more here.
- tweet out your release announcement.
- Pin the tweet to the top of your profile page
- Go to Buffer and program the tweets for 1-3 times a day for the next 10 days
- Customize the top banner, profile picture to announce the new music
- Add your bit.ly link and mention of the release to the “About” section
- Upload cover art and have track streaming in the background
Send out a newsletter announcement to your mailing list.
3. Keep Up With Your Socials
After Music Release
Keep Momentum Up!
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 the press with new content, while at the same time reminding them about the new album.
- Ask your family, friends, and fans to write reviews of your new album on iTunes, Amazon or CD Baby, and other digital retailers.
- Submit your music to Pandora for consideration if you get accepted use the Pandora AMP program
- Drop a Lyric video or a video for one of the tracks to keep the music fresh for fans
- Create an acoustic or alternate version of the track
- Make loops or boomerangs of the music video to keep the visuals in your fans eyes
Create tiles to spread out over the next few weeks with bit.ly links to Spotify, SoundCloud, iTunes, and all streaming platforms
Create Facebook or Instagram Lives
This is a great way to build buzz and can really attract fans who may not see your posts.
Once your aggregator of choice releases your new songs to Spotify, you are able to claim and verify your Spotify profile with Spotify for Artists. That allows you to review listener analytics, check for any new playlist adds, add an “Artist Pick,” make playlists, and keep your photo and bio up to date
A lot of social media elements are covered in the timeline above. At Cyber PR Music, we consider your blog and your newsletter to be part of your social media strategy.
Don’t Forget or Neglect Your Newsletter
Newsletters should still be going out once a month, blog posts being posted, and socials should never go stale.
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.
Update Your Socials Every Day
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 so be sure you keep up on social trends. We love Mashable, Social Media Today, and Social Media Examiner. Follow our Social Media Pyramid for content guidance.
#mcm = man crush Monday / #transformationtuesday / #wcw = woman crush Wednesday / #tbt = throwback Thursday / #NewMusicFriday
4. Share Your Successes
Post Music Release Successes
Anytime a fan, playlister, or music blog press outlet review, mentions or talks about you or your music, share it on your socials.
Press and fans alike love when you share a post they’ve written about you.
- ALL PR – blog, newspaper, magazine, show listing, podcasts, etc.
- PR Quotes – highlights from articles (make a few to share over time to mix it up)
- Radio Adds – Showcase the logo from the station and name and tag the DJ
- Live Show Announcements
- Ticket On Sale Dates
- Film & TV Placements
- Milestones – Spotify playlist counts, award nominations & wins, etc.
- Fan Reviews (from Amazon or CD Baby or iTunes)
- Follow CTAs (Follow me on Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, Etc)
Remember What To Leverage
The whole point of having a music release strategy in the first place is to leverage it to get your big picture goals.
Example: My client wanted higher profile gigs around his hometown (Denver). He leveraged his PR hits we got strategically by sharing visualizations and links with the promoters and venues he was targeting. He did this by writing them each a personal email saying: “I have retained a PR team to increase my visibility and they will work hard to promote any shows I am booked to play.” Everytime he was featured in an article, he posted it across social channels and tagged the venues and other artists he appeared with. From his efforts, he began to get more gigs because he had something his competition did not – built in PR and proving he had the initiative to showcase to his fans that he would promote. You can use a similar strategy with any type of industry folk. The moral of this story? Always share your hard earned PR successes with your fans and industry alike! You will need to figure out WHO needs to see your “successes.”
5. Play More Shows
If you are already building through touring, continue hitting the same markets. This builds 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 on Amazon. We also love this post from Ari Herstand.
There are undoubtedly limitations on how often you can tour. More than likely won’t be able to tour to every market and for this we have a solution….
No Shows? Try Live Streaming!
A live streaming concert is where the audience is online viewers and can be filmed at your home or any interesting location have access to, a great tool to connect with people anywhere in the world. Tons of artists, big and small, are taking advantage of this right now to keep engaged and present with their current fanbase, generate revenue and to increase their brand and awareness.
You can stream on Facebook and Instagram, however more robust platforms offer features geared towards musicians creating “official” shows. The two major players are Stageit and Concert Window. You can charge a set ticket price or utilize the “pay what you want” model. The differences are found in the way you reward viewers.
For even more guidance on releasing music, check Cyber PR LAB 3:
Release Music With Ease with Suz The Rock/Star Advocate!
Click the image below to learn more.