I wanT TO release music, already!
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.
Making sure your socials are on fleek!
With so many social media platforms floating around these days, being an artist and keeping track of everything can get a little tricky. We always tell our artists to stay on top of posts, photos and content… but we know it’s easier said than done! The most important thing to be aware of is how you are perceived online, because in all honesty, perception is everything. To make things a little easier, we’ve put together a little list of some must-know dos and don’ts of the social media world. Whether you're a new or established artists, these are some points to live by.
Image is everything!
DO: Make sure your profile and cover images are up-to-date and on fleek. As an artist, you are a brand. Reflect that brand in all of your imagery.
DON’T: Use outdated images with a style that isn’t relevant to you anymore. Have those golden oldies stored in an album, but not out on display. Your social channels need to look the best at all times - you never know who’s about to stop by!
Where’s the music?
DO: Have your latest music pinned to the top of your Facebook and Twitter accounts and linked in your Instagram bio. Prospective labels, booking agents, management teams and even fans don’t have the time to sit and scroll for your tunes. Pinning a video is even better than pinning a buy link, The less clicks, the better! Make sure you have stream and buy links in your YouTube video descriptions or in the description panel on Facebook if it’s a direct upload.
DON’T: Fill your Facebook newsfeed with irrelevant venting and blabbing (that’s what Twitter is for, right?). Don’t clog your profile with things that take away from the music. And if you’re in a band, don’t make the Instagram account all about one person; people want to see you hanging out as a band. They want that behind-the-scenes juice.
You do you.
DO: Have a consistent tone of voice across your channels. Definitely not one to be over analysed, but think about how you want to be seen and represented. Make sure your tone of voice reflects who you/your band are, and don’t be afraid to add in your charming sense of humour. Let that personality shine!
DON’T: Sound too much like a business - you want to be relatable and you want people to feel like they’re involved in your journey.
Why can’t we all just get along?
DO: Promote other artists in your scene and artists you’re a fan of. You might see your scene as a competition, but don’t! If someone in your artist network has been chosen for a major tour, or is embarking on their own headline tour, you’re more likely to get picked as support than someone outside of their network. Plus, having friends is good for the soul.
DON’T: Speak negatively of another artist online. Suck it up and walk away. Have your say next time you see them. Online beef is best left in the MySpace bulletin days - ain’t nobody got time for that anymore.
And last, but definitely not least… Share the love!
DO: Interact with your newsfeed! Reply to those encouraging comments, like those photos your fans are tagging you in, retweet those Twitter mentions. Be consistent in your language, and make those fans feel loved!
DON’T: Have an ego. People will know straight away if you’re being insincere; you’re never too good or too popular to reply to fans and like their photos. When you’re waiting at the airport, sitting in the studio on downtime or laying in bed, take the time to make them feel loved! They’re the ones who buy your tickets, wear your shirts and put you on the Spotify playlist at parties. Don’t be a jerk, be thankful, man!