If you’re a developing artist on the cusp of a new music release, it can be hard to know exactly what you want to get out of sharing your music. Ideally, creative fulfillment should be a big part of your motivation, but it shouldn’t end there if you want to connect with an audience. Some concrete financial and promotional goals should be on your mind as well. Here are realistic goals you should shoot for as a developing artist ahead of your next release:
Local radio play and media coverage
If you live in or near a city, one of the easiest ways to generate interest in your music locally is through local radio stations, blogs, alt-weekly magazines, and newspapers. Media and radio stations based in cities tend to designate coverage for local artists through special shows and columns, so look for those. This ends up being a big deal when it comes to building a local presence and grabbing the attention of venues and tastemakers in your city. If you don’t live in a big city, pitch your music to the nearest influential music scene.
A single premier from a local, national, or international blog
This might be a tough goal to shoot for, but it’s important. Getting your next single premiered by a blog or media outlet can help drive lots of attention to your next release. It can excite your existing fans and inspire new listeners to give your music a chance. Obviously, the bigger the blog, the more listeners you’ll get. But, and this is a big but, it can be incredibly hard for unknown artists to get featured on a prominent blog. The key is to start early, shoot high, and pitch to plenty of smaller blogs if the bigger ones don’t bite, because they probably won’t in all likelihood.
Airplay on national radio stations and playlist features through a targeted DIY campaign
Professional radio campaigns cost thousands of dollars; money that many developing artists simply don’t have. Another way to go is to run a small and highly targeted radio campaign yourself. While you’re at it, pitch to playlist curators as well. If you send physical CDs and download links out and your music starts showing up on radio shows and playlists, that’s a great sign. Specific goals here totally depend on your unique situation as an artist, but playlist and radio coverage overall is a great goal to shoot for.
A surge in new streams, listeners, downloads, and interest in your music
Like radio and playlist adds, the specifics here totally depend on your unique standing as an artist. For some, it could be a single generating 1,000 streams over a certain streaming platform in its first month after release. For others, that number could be 1,000,000. But no matter what your situation is, your goals here should be centered around engaging existing fans and reaching new ones. Metrics aren’t everything in music, but if you want evidence that people are enjoying your music, you’ll have plenty of information to go off of, like streaming analytics, radio charts, and downloads.
Some sort of financial return on your investment
This is another tough goal for developing artists. You’ve bought music equipment, learned how to play instruments and record, and have spent loads of time creating a great single, EP, or album. How much is your release worth? Only you and your collaborators can be the judge of that, but if you haven’t thought about it, you need to. You could be the purest music creator on the planet who has zero interest in money, but that doesn’t change the fact that music costs money to create. If you love doing this and want to spend the rest of your days making and sharing music, you’ll either have to fund your songs through your music or through a non-musical job eventually. So whether you aim to buy a new van with the money from your latest release or simply cover your promotional and distribution costs, create some kind of realistic financial goal for your music.
You might not reach the goals you set out for your next release, and that’s okay. The act of thinking about what you want to achieve with your music and how to get there is a crucial exercise for unknown artists.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.