Getting ready to release a new album is a time filled with excitement. You’ve poured your heart, soul, and probably a significant portion of your wallet into this new project and you can’t wait to share it with the world. Congratulations!
While it might be tempting to simply drop the album on a random Friday and wait for the masses to swarm to it, there might be a slightly better strategy—and it involves making a plan.
Below, we go over a few things you need to know in order to make your album release the most successful it can be. You’ve worked hard to get here—don’t shortchange yourself now.
Have a release plan
The first thing you want to figure out is your release plan. At the most basic level this means deciding on a release date. After that, you want to decide if you’re going to hire a publicist (if so, you’ll want to budget for it) or if you’re going to DIY the PR campaign—either way, there should be a PR campaign. Successful campaigns, be it DIY or hiring out, start 8-weeks ahead of release date in order to get your music to outlets prior to release. This is a crucial step, that requires planning, compiling of finished materials at least 8-weeks ahead of release date, and a knowledge of relationship building, pitching, and selling yourself in a way that appeals to the writer. (more on that here.)
The next part of your release plan if you’re DIY-ing it, is to put together a schedule. For instance, when will you release your first single? How many blogs and playlists will you pitch before you release your second single? Make a spreadsheet to keep track of your pitches and follow ups, and stick to your plan. Don’t forget to have an EPK that includes a professionally written bio and at least 3 hi-res press photos.
Start Taking your Social Media Seriously
If you’re not already a pro at social media, posting regularly and garnering consistent engagement, you’re going to want to start doing that well in advance of starting a PR campaign and certainly before releasing. After all, if your social media is a graveyard, then who is going to be paying attention when you release your new music?
Beyond that, your social media engagement is incredibly important when it comes to many aspects of your career, not the least of which is the press you’ll attract. As much as a blog may love your music, the reality is that this is a business, and if they feel like posting about you is going to help expose you to their audience, without gaining access to yours, then they’re a lot less likely to find interest in posting about you. This is why creating an engaging, interesting, consistent posting schedule that provides value to your fans is so important.
Quick tip: this means getting familiar with your brand and the 70-20-10 rule of social media. That is: 70% of your content should be brand building (IE: show your personality, who you are, share articles that relate to what you’re all about, etc) 20% should be content shared from other bands/brands (sharing another band’s cool new merch, news about a local coffee shop you play at often, etc) and only 10% should be selling. That means where most artists spend 100% of their time solely posting about their shows, new songs, and merch, you should actually only be doing that stuff 10% of the time.
Trust me on this—social media is one of the most powerful tools you have to connect with your audience, so don’t misuse it. After all, didn’t you get into this industry to make a difference in other people’s lives? Maybe so they’d feel connected and less alone? In order to do that, you need to find and nurture that relationship.
Plan Your Release Show
You can’t have an album release without an album release show. But rather than making this just like any other show, try to spice it up a bit. Every show you put on should provide a unique and notable experience, but your release show is a chance to really leave an impression. Some of the most memorable shows I’ve been to have been release shows, and it’s because the band pulled out all the stops and made it a full on event.
Try to align the show’s theme with your band’s brand and the things that are important to you. If you’re feeling stuck here are a few ideas:
- Halloween themed show with a fog machine, spooky music between sets, and free candy (I’ve been to a show like this and it was by far my favorite)
- Partner with a local or growing business to sponsor a giveaway that fans can enter at your merch table. I went to an indie artist’s release show once and she had partnered with a guitar company to give away a guitar to one lucky winner. She was a pretty small artist at the time, but so was the company, so the pairing was perfect and it definitely drew a crowd
Secure Exclusive Merch
You’re going to need some one of a kind merch to reward and entice show goers with. Again, the key to success is to align it with your brand. A new t-shirt design is ok, but it’s not great, and it’s not turning any heads. You want something totally unique, maybe something you can only get if you attend the show in person or order the album by a certain date. There should be something that feels very exclusive about the whole thing.
A few of my favorites over the years were an English folk band that created and sold their own brand of tea (how perfect is that?!) and a character band that created a short, personally numbered comic book to support their release, rather than a physical album. (more ideas here.)
Hype Up Your Release
Once everything is in place, don’t forget to hype up your release! There’s a balance to be struck between being obnoxious about it (remember that 70-20-10 rule) and being engaging about it, so be clever and be creative. Tease behind the scenes photos and video clips from upcoming video releases, or 10 second clips of a song you’re about to drop. Put together a puzzle or scavenger hunt for fans to figure out the name of a new song, the new merch you’re revealing, or the theme of your live show. The more you get your audience feeling engaged and involved, the more success you’ll see.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR . She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.