The Best Time To Release Your Album: A Monthly Guide
Last year I put together this handy dandy cheat sheet to give bands the best time to release their album or EP to maximize exposure. But you know what? Things change. A few months that were fantastic in the past, proved to be fatal in 2014.
So here is the updated, new and improved guide for releasing an album in 2015 and early 2016.
This is a great month to release an album. Media has had a few weeks to take a break and recharge leading up to January and people are generally ready to dig in with zest and vigor after the holiday break. That said, it's advised you schedule closer to the middle of the month or later so media has time to get back into the swing of things.
SXSW starts to creep in and take over in February, so if you are releasing your album at this time, you want to do it before February 15th. The latter half media is inundated with SXSW performances and parties and they will most likely pass on a band they’ve never heard before.
Avoid a March release date unless you are already established and are playing SXSW. Otherwise, you stand a great chance of your album being overlooked just by the sheer amount of email media receives at that time. To put it bluntly, this is one of the two most competitive months for releases and an established band will almost always take precedence with coverage.
A lot of established indie bands are still releasing records, so if you plan to release an album wait until after the middle of April when things thin out a bit and editorial opportunities open up.
This is a great time to release a record. Most of the established indie bands have released their albums in March and April and its right before the festival season so there are opportunities for coverage without a lot of outside interference.
Another solid month for emerging artists, however festival season is gearing up so it's recommended you focus on securing festival slots where you can to help enhance the release.
The media world revolves around Pitchfork Festival this month, so if you are an emerging artist in the indie rock or experimental vein, it's highly recommended you avoid releasing your record this month (unless of course you are playing Pitchfork Fest). Traditional Americana bands who aren't as impacted by the hipster blog circuit, could look at this as a good month especially if you are a touring band.
This can be a good month to release a record because it’s right before a heavy release season and although festival season is still in full swing, schedules do start to open up post Pitchfork Festival.
The effects of CMJ will start to hit the later part of the month with established bands releasing records around back to school and the CMJ Music Marathon. If you are an emerging band without existing buzz, you should plan on releasing your album prior to mid-September or be prepared for the early death of a great release.
Do not release your record in October if you are emerging band. Hands down this is the worst month to release an album and many great records lose out on coverage simply because media doesn’t have time to look at it due to CMJ and the multitude of established bands who release records at this time.
As long as you release your record pre-Thanksgiving, it can be a great month to release a record. Before the advent of music blogs, it used to be taboo and relatively unwise to release anything in November. That has since changed and as long as you’ve began your promotion in August or early September, it can turn out really well.
Last year I deemed December a great month to release an album due to a light release schedule. I now call this month “The Curse of the Best of Lists.” There will be absolutely nothing on a media outlet’s mind outside of their favorite bands, songs and albums of the year.
This guide will give you all the months which could be the most advantageous for your album release, but you still need to start publicizing your album a minimum of three months in advance to meet media deadlines and create awareness in advance of the release. Also note, you should have your album mastered and cover art completed before announcing a release date for the simple reason recordings get delayed and art gets reworked. You don’t want to rush a release which would be ultimately detrimental to the exposure you could receive.