How to Release Your Album Successfully (Even If You Don't Have a Record Label)
Whether you paid thousands of dollars working with a great producer or made your own bedroom recording, chances are you want people to hear your music.
Over my 20 years in the music industry I’ve seen bands and even record labels make the same mistakes which ultimately prevent their record from standing a chance for success.
In order for people to hear your music and increase the chances your album or EP release will be a success, you need to create a solid plan before you release the record.
1. Do NOT release the record the same day you receive your masters back or your CDs arrive on your doorstep.
This is the #1 mistake we see bands make. You’ve spent months, if not years, on your album and you just want people to hear it. I get it. However, as counterintuitive as it may seem, you greatly reduce the amount of people hearing your music by releasing it right away.
Do you think bands like Phoenix or MGMT released their records this way? No. Their record labels planned well in advance and released the record at the most advantageous time while building a buzz in ADVANCE with press and their fans.
You should begin by announcing your release date 3-6 months in advance to meet media deadlines, create awareness, and begin building a buzz.
2. Make a list and check it twice.
First things first, you should be sending your music to bloggers and magazines to increase your fanbase. And that begins with targeting the right media contacts.
Research the best publications for your type of music and then send it to the person who seems most likely to cover it. If you want a review, send it to the music editor or reviews editor. If it’s a specific writer, drop them a line telling them why they'll like it based on what they've written about.
And don’t send your electro pop album to a writer who only covers bands like Neil Young. No matter how good your record is, he won’t be into it and most likely the only coverage you’ll get is on his wall of shame.
Maybe you really want a magazine like FADER to cover your band. Check out their site and see what coverage they give to bands at your level and genre.
Here’s the good news about having to wait to release your album. It doesn’t mean you have to wait to release any music. In fact, I highly recommend releasing an mp3 right away to start getting the music out there and also test how people react.
If you want coverage on blogs, offer at least one downloadable mp3 through Soundcloud for their readers. This is a great way to build press early to increase both fan and press interest, thus increasing your chance of a successful release.
4. EPK-Electronic press kit.
Your website can serve as your EPK. A press kit should consist of a hi-res publicity photo (at least 300dpi), bio, mp3s or streamed audio they can hear. We create media pages for our clients based on what the journalists most often request from us and what could potentially increase press coverage for the artist.
- Bio-Create a strong story angle that is definitively you and hasn’t already been said before.
- Great publicity photo. Look at some of your favorite blogs to see what types of photos they post to give you ideas. It should tell a story about your band, look professional and catch attention. Photographer, Alicia J. Rose, does this really well and as a result the photos she’s shot have appeared in magazines like Filter,Elle and Magnet. Sarah Wilson who has worked with bands like Strange Talk is also one we get behind, since she always has the artist’s best interest in mind.
- MP3-Do NOT include your entire album or EP on your website before the release date. You should only have the mp3 you’ve already released and then password protect the album through sites like bandcamp or soundcloud to give media access.
- Press Quotes-If you've received press, include press quotes with the highest profile or the best quotes at the top of you page.
5. Social Networking.
If you want to up your music promotion game, make sure you are sending teasers about the upcoming album on twitter and facebook while branding the release date.
This can be done with a few simple tricks:
- Retweet when a fan or blog says something great about your music.
- Involve your fans in the process by giving sneak peeks of cover art, publicity photo shoots, videos or anything else they want to know about.
- Pay attention to where you receive the most engagement and make sure you plan out more of the same.
- Ask your fans to retweet and share your facebook posts with their friends.
Green Light Go: Take a look at your website and make sure you have the four components of a press kit in place.
Sharing is Caring: Know someone in the studio? Share this article with them to help launch a successful record release.