There’s nothing worse than feeling totally overwhelmed by preparing for your latest release to the point that it overshadows the excitement of having just made what you may even consider your best work to date! When you’re getting ready to unveil a new recording to the masses, the last thing you want to be doing is scrambling to get organized.
Take your time, don’t rush it, and remember: Preparation is everything. You didn’t rush the creative process getting to this point, so don’t start cutting corners now.
Make Sure You Have…
A Final Product
First thing’s first — how’s your final product looking? Are your tracks mastered? Is your music video done? This is sort of a must-have before you begin thinking about any promotion, whether on a DIY or professional level. You can’t share a product that’s half-finished, so before anything else, make sure this is set.
And if you’d like to take a more active role in the Mixing process of your music, check out our brand new Mainstage course featuring tips and perspectives from tons of the hardest-working engineers around today and personal mentor-support, Faders Up: Modern Mix Techniques.
Promo photos are, in my opinion, too often overlooked as a necessity in the release checklist. Having quality (read: professional) photos is essential to telling your story and grabbing the attention of fans and media alike.
Your photos should tell a story — from looking at them, I should be able to get an instant feel for your genre and personality. If I can’t tell who you are, or at least what genre you play, by looking at your photos, or if anything is blurry/out of focus/or generally makes me think you took it on your phone, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
A Release Party or Tour in Support of the Work
A great way to double up the talking points around your album, track, or video release is to set up a performance that celebrates its launch. Release parties are a great way to spread the word about your release across multiple outlets; they give your band an opportunity to sell your album to your fans in person, and they’re also just a ton of fun, too… which helps take the stress off the whole thing.
What I mean by “doubling up” on the talking points is that sometimes press outlets are more likely to run a story about a lesser-known band if it’s jam-packed with information, like release news, a track premiere, live show dates, etc. If you’re Kanye or Jay-Z, well, you can probably turn something as little as a tweet into a national news story, but indie artists need to give the press everything they got.
If you really want to pack a punch, book an entire tour to support your album! And we can totally help with that. Just go ahead and check out our popular free course, Touring on a Shoestring. Here’s a lesson from the course on “How to Write a Press Release.”
A Strong Social Media Presence
You can have the best music I’ve ever heard, but if you have next to no social media presence and no one is interacting with you when you do post, you’re going to have a hard time really selling that. As a blogger, I look at a band’s social media pages to determine if they’re worth writing about because, as much as a writer may love your music, the reality is that this is a business, and things like audience numbers really come into play. If your social media has low numbers/interaction, it likely means that if I do write an article about you, odds are no one beyond my blog audience sees it. Which is great for you, but not so great for my blog’s visibility.
As a fan, I look to your social media to see how you treat your fans and how much you do or don’t value them. If I see that you’re not posting regularly, not responding to comments, or only posting sales-y posts, that tells me that your fans don’t matter to you and that perhaps you only see them so far as how they can serve you (i.e., buying your music). That’s a huge turn-off.
On the flip side, if I look at your social media and see lots of posts and interaction, it tells me that you really value your fans and those connections, even beyond what they can do for you. Invest some time in a social media strategy, and get your game on point before you even think about releasing. That way, by the time you do release, and fans new and old begin to flock to your social media pages, they’ll have a reason to stay.
A Professional Bio
You really can’t skimp when it comes to the bio. If you’re not a great writer, or you feel uncomfortable writing about yourself, hire someone else to do it for you. Trust me, it’s worth the $100 investment to have someone else objectively create a compelling story about who you are and why anyone should care.
Your story is what sets you apart, and if you’re not clear on what that is, you can’t expect your audience to figure it out for you. Without a story for fans to connect to, you’re just another band making good music.
A Mailing List
Building your mailing list is no easy task, but it is incredibly important. Especially in the age of algorithms, you can’t really trust social media to deliver to your fans every single time, and that’s really what you’re going for. Take the time to build up a solid subscriber list and to invest in giving them valuable content on a regular basis.
Once a month is frequent enough to remind them you exist without being so frequent as to run out of things to say. If you don’t have something new to say at least once a month (be it a new release, a new show, or a random thought that will connect with your audience), then you may want to start by brainstorming and strategizing new content and new ways to get out there.
A Promotional Strategy
Whether you’re going the DIY route or hiring a publicist, it’s essential that you have a promo strategy in place. You can’t simply release your new EP or single to the world on your Facebook page and hope that fate does the rest. You’re not Beyoncé, and that strategy will not work for an emerging artist. You must have a plan in place.
If you’re hiring a publicist to assist you in the promo, you’ll want to get in touch with them well in advance of your release (album/EP campaigns start eight weeks ahead of release date, so plan to initially get in touch 12-plus weeks in advance).
If you’re going the DIY route, you’ll want to give yourself at least that much time to prepare, making sure to include things like blogs you’ll want to reach out to, what your pitch will be, who you want to partner with for premieres, etc. And I’m not going to lie, it takes a lot of work, a lot of time spent drafting and editing emails, hopping on the phone, and planning your schedule in advance. It’s tiring!
In the end, having all the puzzle pieces is important, but if you don’t have a strategy for putting everything into motion, you’re hindering your chances at success. Make sure you take the time to really sit down and strategize key dates, angles, and approaches and you’re bound to make your release a success.
Looking to advance your skills and open up more opportunities in music? Explore Soundfly’s growing array of Mainstage courses that feature personal support and mentorship from experienced professionals in the field, such as Beat Making in Ableton Live, Orchestration for Strings, Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords, and The New Songwriter’s Workshop.
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