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Before and After Your Record Release (Part One)

Katy Krassner

November 16, 2022

A two-part Blog

You made a great record. 12 songs, ready for streaming, sounds amazing. Every single person who hears it says this is your breakthrough. This is THE ONE. This is where you remember that setting up a music release is just as important as making the music. A solid pre-release can take you a long way and get your fans involved and excited. Therefore, in part 1 of this blog, we’re going to go over some steps you should take in the months leading up to your release date. 

SIX MONTHS:

1. Get your team together. 

In today’s music industry that can mean a lot of things. It could mean organizing your friends and bandmates to help you create content on the regular. Or it could mean hiring a manager, booking agent, publicist, and entertainment lawyer (not necessarily in that order). Everyone on the above list should know what kind of things you want to achieve with your new music, what your objectives are, and what your expectations are of them.

2. Register your songs with Performing Rights Organizations. 

Maybe it’s not the sexiest part of the music industry, but signing up with your local PROs will help you keep your ducks in a row. Somewhere down the line you will need to collect all the royalties that come from radio play and other licensing uses, like sync placements in film and TV. Here’s a resource for Canadian artists, and for PROs in the USA.

3. Update your branding.

Do you want a new logo? Do you know how the name of your album should look on the cover? Are you creating the artwork or are you working with an artist? A photographer? Do you have press photos? A six-month lead up gives you plenty of time to do this in a relaxed way. That’s also the approximate wait time for pressing vinyl these days, so get ready to get in line.

4. Update your online presence.

It’s super important that your social media and website are in top form. Use your lead time to get your fans excited, put out teasers, showcase snippets of new music and even get their opinions. Make sure your mailing list is cleaned up, segmented, and ready to go. This time frame is a great way to reward your fans for being a fan by having them feel a part of your upcoming release.

5. Come up with your strategy.

Do you feel like one of your tracks is perfect for a car commercial? Will you be reaching out to Music Supervisors? Is there an established artist you think your band would be perfect to support on tour? Do you have a sense of your budget and a plan on how to best spend it? A six-month lead time is a great period to work on these things, and consider which companies and services you will utilize, when, and how much of a budget you will need for each component.

THREE MONTHS:

1. Publicity!

While there are very few print magazines still around, lead times still exist and even online features book quickly. A three-month lead gives you or your PR team time to send the music to editors, tastemakers and even bookers for online shows, podcasts, and television. A veteran publicist, who has worked with both established and developing artists says, “A three-month lead time is ideal. I send music to long lead outlets and music bookers to get a sense of what they think of the artist. If a booker gives me a quick “I am not at all interested,” I know to move on and not waste time.” 

2. Organize your EPK.

You should have an updated (or new) bio, photos and a press release ready to go. You’ll also need to be in agreement on which tracks you want to focus on when you speak to media. It’s great to have a “battle plan,” where you agree on interesting aspects of the recording that you want to share. Ask yourself – what’s my unique story?

3. Radio

It may be time to send your first single to radio. Radio used to be a bellwether as to how much interest there would be in a release, but that’s no longer fully the case. “Streaming has changed that landscape completely,” a label exec told me. “In some ways, it gives artists who would never have had a second look from radio more of a chance. In other ways, it opens the playing field to anyone, which means it’s crowded out there.” 

So it’s your job as the artist (or member of an artist team) to play both sides of the court when it comes to radio. Get your music in front of an audience via streaming and start racking up those plays, but also get your music in front of radio programmers with a service like Play MPE. (And yes, it can’t hurt to include those impressive streaming stats in your campaign’s release info!) Some of these radio stations even have playlists on streaming services, so radio can support playlisting and vice versa!

4. Playlisting

On that note – playlisting is another aspect an artist needs to investigate before a release. If you don’t know what it is, playlisting is when a streaming platform or independent curator creates their own list of songs, typically by genre or mood. Editor’s Note: Play MPE helps artists send their music to segmented radio format Lists, which are listened to by music industry pros. But this is considered separate from playlisting which occurs on a streaming platform aimed at the general public

Playlisting is important because music fans frequently turn to playlists for music discovery. If you love punk rock, you may frequent a punk specific playlist to hear what’s new in that genre. Working with a company that focuses on playlisting is a good use of your marketing dollars, especially if you’re a new artist. Do some online research to determine whether the company you’re considering has a good reputation, and can find you organic streams and followers. You don’t want to spend your marketing dollars on bot-plays, only to get booted from a platform when they crack down.

5. Visualize

Visualizers and music videos are something to focus on – and stockpile – in advance of your release. Whether you’re signed to a label with marketing bucks to hire a fancy team, or cobbling together footage from your phone, video is the number one medium for music discovery, and you need it. If you don’t have a budget for a music video production team, a visualizer – a simple visual to accompany your song – can be easy to put together. Use a series of them as promotion for your first single on your website, social media, and of course, YouTube and TikTok.

SIX WEEKS:

You’re in the home stretch! I spoke to the long-time music manager of an established touring band and this was what he said: “The last 6-4 weeks is crunch time. You have to make sure everything is ready to go and correct – no spelling errors or missing text on your liner notes, album and single art should be finished, you should send your first single to radio if you haven’t yet (Play MPE can help with that!) And set up the release with streaming services via a distributor (there are tonnes of distributors to choose from these days.) Get your social media boosts ready, skin your socials, set up online listening parties, send out your press release and set up that release date live show!” 

In our next Blog, we will talk about how you handle the weeks and months AFTER your music is out!

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