Releasing music is one of the most exciting times for an artist! However, amongst all this excitement is a plethora of time-consuming and complicated tasks. It requires music marketing, networking, music PR, sending emails, preparing music formats, and making numerous phone calls. The process could take anywhere between a few weeks to several months and could potentially stress you out. But fear not! With this checklist on how to release music, it should be as straightforward and stress-free as possible.
In this article, we will go through how to release music and a coherent checklist of activities you need to make your release a success. Be sure to stay tuned so you don’t miss out on any key information.
When Is The Best Time To Release An Album, Single Or EP?
One of the most crucial activities you have to undergo is to determine what time of the year, month, week, day and even hour to release your music. This requires analysing each project to determine the timing it is best suited for.
An obvious example is releasing a Christmas song in February. This would be impractical since the song would work better if released during the holiday season in December. If a song/album subject matter is about summertime, it’s a better idea to release it in the summer rather than the winter. Depending on the theme surrounding your project, you can pick where in the calendar it fits.
It is a good idea to write up a release plan or checklist. This should indicate the release date and schedule of activities for the release. You can break down the schedule of activities into three main time periods: pre-release, release day and post-release.
Let’s take a look at what activities you should include in your checklist.
Here we will look at some of the pre-release activities you should undergo.
Set A Release Date
Once the music has gone through the production and post-production process, there are a few things to do before release. You will need to take these tasks into consideration while determining the release date. You should allow enough time to achieve the necessary pre-release activities and perhaps give yourself some extra time in case you need it.
For a single release, we recommend setting the release date one-and-a-half to 2 months away from the time you are writing up your release plan. Larger projects like albums, mixtapes or compilations may need more time since they require more work. For these, we’d recommend about 3 to 6 months.
Once you write down your release plan, do some research and find out what the cost implications of each activity is. This saves you a great deal of time, money, and inconvenience.
Artwork – Album/Cover Art
More often than not, artwork accompanies the audio files. Therefore, the artwork needs to be prepared early enough. Depending on the kind of artwork your project requires, you may have to carry out other activities to compliment the artwork.
For example, if you intend to use your artist image in the album art, you may need to plan for a photo shoot. Or perhaps you are outsourcing the cover art design to a graphic designer. You need to find out how long this particular artist normally takes. Ensure that you account for these activities when you set the timeline for your release.
You should allow about one or two weeks to complete the artwork, particularly if it involves other activities to get it done.
Preparing Your Music
When you release music, different streaming platforms and avenues require different formats of music. For example, avenues that place emphasis on high quality may require audio files in wav format. Or perhaps sending audio over the internet, mp3 may work better due to convenience in file size.
A music converter will come in handy, and you can look up and download one on the internet. Additionally, you may require radio edits when planning for a radio release.
It is also crucial that you ensure the metadata on your music is properly filled in before sending it anywhere. This is particularly important for radio and TV as it helps to distinguish your music from other audio files.
With regards to EP’s, albums, mixtapes and compilations, you need to prepare and allow time for reproduction if you plan on producing physical copies (CDs, DVDs, or Vinyl). In some cases, you may also need to make physical copies of a single (some radio and TV stations still prefer these formats). The process could take anywhere from 1 or 2 days, to a week or so. It all depends on how many copies are being made, among other factors.
If you intend to incorporate merchandise in the promotion of your project (which you should!), you will need to plan this ahead of your chosen release date.
It is important you find out the cost implications for producing your merchandise and how long it will take to have it ready. We recommend preparing 2 to 3 weeks before the release date.
It is now easier than ever to get your music to online music stores and streaming services. For any artist looking to reach a global audience, distribution has become an essential route to take.
Getting your music onto Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Deezer, Tidal among other platforms is a great start for establishing your artist brand on an international scale. You can easily do this through a distributor.
It is important to consider several factors when you choose a distribution service. This includes pricing and what features they offer.
Some of the key features to look at in this case are the ability to set a release date and allow for a pre-save or pre-order campaign. These particular campaigns can have a significant impact on your promotion campaign if you plan to have your music on iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify.
On iTunes, fans can buy a song/album before the release date. On Apple Music and Spotify, they can pre-save the song/album before it is released.
It is also important for you to consider how long a distributor normally takes to get your music on the stores and streaming services. If you plan to incorporate pre-save and pre-order campaigns when you promote your music, it is best to get your music to your preferred distributor at least one month in advance.
On average, most distributors take around 2 to 3 weeks to get your music to the stores. This gives you about a week or 2 for the pre-save and pre-order campaigns. Several online music stores and streaming services normally release new music on Fridays, so factor this in when setting the release date.
Claim And Update Your Artist Profile On Stores
Updating your artist image and bio on online music stores and streaming services is a simple yet important task to boost your release. This allows listeners that discover your music, find out more about you and potentially become loyal fans.
Some streaming services have made this easier for artists through platforms such as Spotify For Artists, Apple Music For Artists, YouTube For Artists, and Amazon Music For Artists.
Once your request is accepted and you have claimed your artist profile through these platforms, you can instantly update your artist profile on those streaming services.
This typically falls in the pre-release activities only if you have distributed music to online streaming services before. If it is your first time releasing music, this falls under post-release activities. This is due to the fact that stores do not normally create artist profiles until the artists’ music is distributed to them.
Prepare Your Press Kit
It is essential that you prepare and update your press kit for every project you release. Generally speaking, a press kit accompanies your music to give more information about your artist brand and the release itself. Artist bio, artist images, press release, artist rider and of course, your music are just some of the items that go into a press kit.
It is key that you remember to update your artist bio to include new developments in your career since your last release. Update your artist images to include current photos that best represent your brand.
A convenient way of packaging your press kit is creating an electronic press kit (EPK).
Compile Your Mailing List & Send Your Press Release/EPK
You will need to compile a mailing list of whom to send your EPK to. This includes contacts for radio, TV, music magazines and newspaper segments, music blogs, booking agents and event organisers. Also it is important to not forget your fans’ mailing list!
Bear in mind that compiling your mailing list is a continuous process and you never stop building your contact list.
The best time to send a press release or your EPK is 2 to 3 weeks prior to the release date for a single release. This is to allow time for correspondence and planning. A larger project requires more time and will vary depending on where you are sending it.
For example, for an album release, you may need to send your EPK to venue owners, event organisers and booking agents months in advance if you intend to do a tour.
Build The Hype
Before the release date, you should let your fans know that a new release is on the way. It is important to build the hype towards the new project. You can start sharing the artwork, teaser videos, among other promotional content on social media.
A good time to start this is 1 or 2 weeks before the release date, depending on the size of the project. You can also start preparing promotional content that you will use on and after the release day.
Another great tool if you’re an upcoming artist is to sign up to Amazing Radio. Amazing Radio is an excellent way for new people to find your music. For a small fee, Amazing Radio gives you excellent bang for your buck with regards to promoting your music. We offer excellent playlists where we can find a home for your work depending on your chosen genre.
Why not sign up to get your new music played on one of our shows today!
Release Day Activities
Let’s have a look at activities you will have to partake in on the release day of your project.
On the release day, social media is your best friend! This is the time to share the much-anticipated music (if you built the hype towards it) as widely as possible. Engage with as many excited fans as you can by liking, sharing, retweeting, and commenting on your posts.
Send messages, emails, make phone calls, inform, and remind people in your mailing list about the new release. Remember to update your social media profiles and information on your artist website.
Set A Premiere Time
YouTube has a great feature that allows you to set a premiere time for your song. You can use this to build anticipation for the release. Additionally, it allows your fans to experience the moment when your song goes live and you can interact with them in the chat.
Using features like ‘premiere your video’ on YouTube, it is advisable to set the hour of release at a time when most of your audience is likely to be online.
Create Ad Campaigns
Paid ad campaigns are a great tool for your promotional campaign. Running ads on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will help build hype and also produce more sales and streams for your music. Google ads also helps you run ad campaigns on YouTube and other Google affiliates.
Running all of this yourself can be overwhelming. Therefore, you should not be afraid to hire the services of a music promotion company. They could help promote your music in more ways than one. Remember to include this in your budget.
Pitching To Playlists
Now that your music is live in stores, pitch it to playlist curators that feature songs in your genre or a similar style. You will need to do some research beforehand to have the contacts ready for release day.
Spotify offers an opportunity for new releases to get featured on Spotify’s editorial playlists through the Spotify for Artists platform. You can only do this before the song’s release day, so you will want to get your song on Spotify as early as possible!
A launch event or listening party for your project gives fans a unique experience and interaction with your new music. For your event, make sure to have the physical copies and merchandise ready.
Many of the post-release activities are a continuation of the pre-release and release day activities. In the days and weeks following the release, it is vital you keep sharing your new music as widely as possible.
You can get creative on how you share on social media by utilising the promotional content you had previously prepared. Run different ad campaigns and find more playlists to pitch your music to.
Follow Up And Response
Now your music is out there, it is a good time to follow up on any contacts that you have sent your EPK to. Find out if they have heard your music and what they think of it.
It is important that you do this in a way that does not come off as spamming or nagging. A follow up email after 2 weeks should be good enough timing. Respond to the media platforms that feature your music (as many as you can) to show your appreciation. A little comment here and there could go a long way.
Communication is key when planning a tour. Get in touch with the venues you will be playing early enough to coordinate better. Also, be sure to have the physical copies of the music and merchandise ready so you can incorporate them in your tour.
Registration Of The Music With Relevant Bodies
It is a good idea to register your music with the relevant performer’s rights organisations and collection societies. This is so that you do not miss out on any revenue your music generates. Working with a publisher may help you collect more of the revenue from your music.
Our Final Thoughts
So there we have it!. Now you have everything you need to release your own music. We’ve looked at the pre-release activities such as preparing album artwork and organising distribution. Additionally, we’ve looked at the release day tasks such as premiering your music on YouTube.
Releasing your music could prove to be a hectic affair and can be very time-consuming. However, the better you plan, the more likely it is to be a success. Write down your release plan and include the activities above in your planning. Set out goals you would like to achieve with your release and measure your success at the end of your release campaign. So now it’s up to you! We look forward to hearing your music.
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