It’s easy to get carried away with the excitement of releasing music and showing the world what you’ve been working on, but we’re here to tell you why it’s important to stop, breathe and plan! Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?
Release planning is SO important and every action has to have an objective; think about the reason behind what you’re doing, when you’re doing it and what the bigger picture looks like. To help piece this crazy puzzle together, we’ve designed a super simple 5 step guide to release planning so that you can get the best result for your tunes. If you need help or have more questions, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
STEP 1: Plan backwards.
Firstly, think about when you’d like to release and consider any conflicts that surround that date. Have any other bands in your genre announced a release date similar to yours? Does it have the potential to clash with a big event and get lost in loud online noise, resulting in media being less likely to talk about your release?
Once you’ve decided on a release date, work backwards to plan out things like asset finalisation, digital delivery, publicity, social media and live shows.
TIP: if you’re in a band or have multiple people on your team, create a release planner in a Google Spreadsheet so you can all add in ideas and track live updates.
STEP 2: Digital Delivery
Make sure you sort out your digital delivery as soon as you can. Once you have the finalised song/s and artwork, upload via Tunecore/CDBaby/whoever it is you use and give yourself enough time to deal with any issues that might occur. Sometimes iTunes can randomly select releases for quality assurance checking, and this could delay your release date by up to 3 weeks. Give yourself at least a month between delivering your assets and release date.
TIP: Think about including pre-orders with your release. Pre-orders greatly increase your risk of charting, and can create a great story for you when pitching to labels and tour supports.
STEP 3: Image
A lot of bands leave promotional material to the last minute - don’t! Once you’ve decided on what song, or collection of songs you will be releasing, book in a photographer! Research photographers who are affordable and reputable and think long and hard (without beating yourself up over it) about what you want to wear and how you want to be perceived.
TIP: Stay away from generic scenery. We all love the graff alleys of Melbourne and the mysterious vibe of a train track running through a random paddock in the middle of nowhere, but it’s over-used and will get lost in the pile of generic-bands-with-no-style (every media outlet has this pile… trust us!).
STEP 4: Social Media Schedule
So, you started a Myspace page when you were 10 and signed up to Facebook when you were 14. You were one of the first people to download instagram, you’ve dabbled in Vine and you can tweet with the best. This might make you social savvy, but ad-hoc posting won’t get you noticed. Social media schedules are the arguably one of the most important pieces of a release plan. Create a calendar in word or Google docs and populate posts together. And don’t go crazy on the teasers - there’s only so much ‘coming soon’ people will care about, and it’s not much. A social schedule will help you map out your promotion and hold yourself accountable for when you should be posting. It’s a great way to delegate within the band.
TIP: Try and use an image in as many posts as possible. Throwing in a video from time to time will help, but keep those golden nuggets for the big posts! Don’t forget to reply to your comments and engage with your tags - loyalty sells records ;).
STEP 5: Self promotion!
It sounds simple, but so many artists get caught out not self promoting (sure, there are some who do a little too much self promoting… but you gotta’ be in it to win it!). Talk about your release on your personal social channels and don’t be scared to post your pre-order, buy or stream links in the group chat you’ve got with your mates where you’re already talking smack anyway.