You’ve put in the work, slogged through all the rewrites, did all your mastering, and now it’s album release time. You have a show booked within the next month, so logic states you should make it the record release show and your official release date. Not so fast. If you’re looking for more exposure on your music beyond the traditional friends and family who come to every show, you need to be strategic. Your band is your business, and like any successful business you need to create a plan for your album launch. If you’ve invested your time and money into the recording, don’t you want to make sure it’s heard by as many people as possible?
Below are considerations we make for every album launch to insure the greatest likelihood of success, and they form a blueprint any artist can follow.
Set Your Release Date a Minimum of Three Months in the Future.
You should begin by announcing your release date 3-6 months in advance to meet media deadlines, create awareness, and begin building a buzz. This is the #1 mistake we see bands make. You’ve spent months, if not years, on your album and you just want people to hear it. I get it. However, as counterintuitive as it may seem, you greatly reduce the amount of people hearing your music by releasing it right away. Think about every band you’ve deemed successful and chances are they had a plan in place to build up to the release date. Since my company, Green Light Go Publicity, is a music PR firm, we often look at everything from the perspective of a music blogger, radio station or traditional print outlet. These outlets receive dozens, if not hundreds of emails per day, all asking for music to be heard. It’s literally impossible to listen to every band who submits in a given day. This means they often need weeks, if not months, before your music is heard, especially if the familiarity isn’t already there. It also means it often takes repeated attempts contacting a media outlet before that first listen happens.
Set Your Release Date on Friday.
In 2015, official release dates in the U.S. were changed from Tuesday to a global Friday release to help combat piracy. Even if piracy isn’t your top concern, this release date should be. It shows you take your band seriously and understand the standard business practice of the music industry. By adopting a Friday release date you’re also giving validity to your release.
Even if your record release show doesn’t fall on Friday, you should set a Friday release date. The show should be in support of the album first and foremost. If you are someone who has set your release date based on an upcoming show, this is the time to change that. Instead set your release date and then book a show at a credible venue in support of it.
Target the Right Music Bloggers.
You should be sending your music to bloggers and magazines to increase your fanbase. And that begins with targeting the right media contacts. Research the best publications for your type of music and then send it to the person who seems most likely to cover it. If you want a review, send it to the music editor or reviews editor. If it’s a specific writer, drop them a line telling them why they’ll like it based on what they’ve written about. Don’t send your rock album to a writer who only covers hip hop or electronic. No matter how good your record is, he won’t be into it and most likely the only coverage you’ll get is on his wall of shame. You should also look at the level of artists being covered at the outlet. If the outlet only covers established and celebrity acts and you’re unsigned band is hovering right around 1k followers on Facebook, the chance of that outlet covering you is slim to none.
Make Your ReverbNation Profile and Website Press Friendly.
There are certain things media outlets and music industry professionals look for when discovering a new band. You should make it easy for them if your aim is increased exposure. This should include hi-res publicity photos (at least 300dpi), bio, mp3s or streamed audio they can hear. The bio should have a strong story angle that is definitively you and hasn’t already been said before. It should not include things like, “sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before” or “we’re completely DIY.” If you need ideas for a great publicity photo, look at some of your favorite blogs to see what types of photos they post. It should tell a story about your band, look professional and catch attention. You want people to hear your music, right? So, include a single or music that is most representative of your current sound. You should NOT include your entire album or EP on your website before the release date. Instead only include the mp3 you’ve already released and then password protect the album. If you’ve received press, include press quotes with the highest profile or the best quotes at the top of your page.
Set a Single Release Date.
Here’s the good news about having to wait to release your album. It doesn’t mean you have to wait to release any music. In fact, I highly recommend releasing an mp3 within three weeks to start getting the music out there and also test how people react. If you want coverage on blogs, offer at least one downloadable mp3 through Soundcloud for their readers. This is a great way to build press early to increase both fan and media interest, which increases your chance of a successful release.
Don’t Forget About Social Media.
Look at ways you can keep your fans engaged while supporting those who have supported you. Start teasing out the single and album release on your social networks and create a banner for the page. If you don’t have access to a designer or aren’t inclined yourself, Canva provides great free templates for professional looking banners. Retweet when a fan or blog says something great about your music. Involve your fans in the process by giving sneak peeks of cover art, publicity photo shoots, videos or anything else they want to know about. Pay attention to where you receive the most engagement and make sure you plan out more of the same. Ask your fans to retweet and share your Facebook posts with their friends.
A lot more goes into releasing an album than just setting an arbitrary release date or sending it out the minute you receive the masters back. If you truly want your music to be heard, take a little extra time planning a release that will benefit from the time and energy you put into the process.
Janelle Rogers began her over 20 year music industry career working for SXSW Music and Media Conference. She then went on to work for BMG Distribution for 10 years in the alternative music department where she championed bands including Kings of Leon, The Strokes, and The White Stripes. In 2002 she launched Green Light Go Music PR as a haven of honesty, integrity and passion for underrepresented artists and labels.