Now that your music is recorded, your product and assets have been created, and your release calendar set, it’s time to promote your record.
Welcome to part four in our series on promoting a release and selling your music. In the first three installments, I covered the Planning Phase — in which you’ve finished recording, finalized your creative assets, and determined an ideal schedule for your release — and the Preparation Phase, where we covered acquiring your physical products and setting up your release for distribution. In this post, I’ll cover the Promotion Phase, going through strategies for announcing your upcoming release and promoting it once it’s out.
Announcing your upcoming release
With your creative assets ready and your distribution officially set up, it’s time to officially announce your new single, EP, or full album to the world. Depending on the type of project, you should announce between four to six weeks prior to release date to generate buzz before it’s available.
Send an email update to your list and share an exciting post on your social media pages announcing the date of your upcoming release. You can use your cover artwork and a short video clip that includes some music to get your fans amped up. Make sure to update your website and social media profiles with new imagery letting people know about your new release and where they can pre-save it on digital streaming platforms and pre-order any physical items and merch. Engage with people responding to your announcement and let them know you’re as appreciative for their support as they are for your music.
Once you’ve shared the great news to your followers through email and organic social posts, you will want to continue sharing your pre-save and pre-order links in tasteful organic posts teasing your new music. Continue using the assets you’ve prepared, like cover artwork, different kinds of videos, behind-the-scenes footage, and snippets of new music to excite your fanbase, keep them informed, and encourage them to share your promos with their friends.
You should also consider using paid promotions to attract new fans — and, unfortunately, sometimes to your own social media followers who did not get served your organic posts. Options include Google/YouTube ads (which can include display ads across popular music websites), Facebook and Instagram ads, and ads on TikTok, Twitter, and Reddit.
Each of these networks have their own costs and benefits regarding who you would be targeting. If you are unfamiliar with the intricacies of each of these marketing platforms (such as how to create the best performing ads, targeting strategies, and performance optimization), there are agencies and services available to help you create and launch ad campaigns to promote your new music, upcoming concerts, and more.
Show.co is a great way to set up and run various promotions yourself, and Disc Makers Ads for Artists program can create ads and optimize a campaign for you. You can use the information you collect in these campaigns to target future promotions in the places that are engaging and liking your music most, and possibly even use that info to determine where to book performances based on your findings.
You get what you budget for
Regarding budgeting for your paid digital promotion efforts, an old recording industry adage states you should spend half the amount you spent on recording on marketing your release. In today’s era of home studio recording and production, this can end up being close to nothing. Conversely, you can easily spend all you’ve got on the recording, mixing, mastering, new gear, van repairs, and anything but marketing.
The experts who manage our Ads for Artists program recommend an expenditure of $200 per week over a four-week promotion period for optimal digital ad performance. Whatever your ultimate budget, you should test ad content and audience targeting to maximize your spend and find engaged new listeners for your music who could become lifelong fans.
Press and radio outreach
Another promotional push leading up to your new release is reaching out to press outlets, magazines, blogs (who may be associated with playlists with large followings), and radio stations who may be interested in covering your release and sharing your new music.
There are many ways to go about this that range from paying a radio promoter and public relations firm, which could run a few hundred to few thousand dollars, or going the true DIY route and looking up the correct contacts and address yourself. For terrestrial radio, physical CDs are still the widely preferred method of submission.
The benefit of utilizing a promoter or PR agency for this outreach is that they already have the relationship with many press outlets and radio contacts, which spares you doing the research, communication, execution, and follow up it takes to successfully execute these campaigns. Of course, there is never a true guarantee of placement or spins, regardless of who executes the campaign.
Cast a wide net to promote your record
That said, there are plenty of reasons to cast a wide net for your release and reach out to press, blogs, and radio stations on your own. Using services like ArtistPR, investing in industry trade books like the Indie Bible, or utilizing promotional tools like those offered by PlayMPE, an independent artist can create a wide-reaching press, blog, radio, and curator campaign and introduce their work to brand new listeners.
Through these methods, you can arrange and organize interviews, premiers of your songs and music videos, and generate coverage for your release that will be published and shared before your official release date to build excitement and hype, on the date itself to boost release-day exposure, or afterwards, to keep your release in front of interested and engaged people for as long as possible.
The day you have planned for, prepared for, and have begun promoting is finally here! You may even have an epic show planned for tonight and have a beautiful display to arrange your new CDs, vinyl, and t-shirts at the venue. All the hard work and planning you’ve put into today is worth celebrating, so congratulations on your awesome new release! But there’s still work to get done to let the world (and especially your fans) know that your new release is officially out.
You will want to send an email blast to your list and share organic content — such as a fun video announcing that it’s release day — with links and info directing fans to hear and purchase your new music. Make it easy for your fans to share your content with their friends and followers, as well.
Set up your systems
Your email can be created and scheduled ahead of time using your email provider (such as Mailchimp or Wix), you can use Facebook’s native Creator Studio tool to schedule Facebook and Instagram posts, or you can use tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to manage content across multiple channels.
Make sure you update your website and social media profiles with “Now Available” imagery and information linking to everywhere your followers and fans can listen and purchase your new release.
Promoting your release after it’s out
As part of the press and radio outreach you’ve been doing prior to your release date, you should also organize press and media coverage for the weeks after your release is out. Plan interviews and special performances, coordinating your efforts in different places that may be associated with a promotional tour or popular locations based on data from your digital campaigns. Continue reaching out to blogs, magazines, curators, and radio stations who cover and play similar music and who may also enjoy yours.
Find creative ways to expand your reach to current listeners and to people who can reach more listeners. Sharing your music on TikTok, YouTube, and other social media platforms is a great way to set a spark. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take, and you never know what could explode in today’s music landscape and end up on a featured list in Rolling Stone or Billboard.
Continue your paid promotion
Generally, six to eight weeks following your release date is also the time to give an additional push to your streaming and sales efforts by running paid promotion campaigns, similar to your pre-save and pre-order campaigns, except now you’re driving people to where they can hear your music (Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Deezer, Tidal, etc.) or purchase your physical media and merch (your website, Bandcamp, Amazon, etc.).
In addition to your organic and paid promotions, you can run campaigns focused on expanding your streaming reach utilizing Spotify’s Marquee advertising tool, services like Playlist Push or SongRocket that pitch your music and connect you to playlist curators, or websites like SubmitHub and Daily Playlists to pitch your music to playlists in relevant genres for little or no cost.
Experiment — and don’t stop promoting
The typical timeframe for the promotional cycle of a new release is six to eight weeks after the release day, meaning that most attention surrounding your release will taper off at some point. That doesn’t mean your release will do all it’s ever going to do within that time. In fact, most releases don’t reach “success” until much later, including my own song, “Eclipse,” which didn’t get much attention until three months after its release (and is now at 1.75 million streams). But this promotional calendar does allow you to optimize your efforts promoting a single or an EP/album, in respect to who would want to cover it as “new,” as well as how much money and time you budget to promote it.
A great way to expand this timeframe — and really make the most of your release — is to continue promoting a single (or a few) after the release day of the full album project. Continue to share music videos and other content to communicate your message, which extends the shelf-life of your project as you tour, promote the release, and begin writing and recording new music. Once your next project is finished, head back to the planning phase and start again!
— — —
My years spent releasing music on my own and through independent labels, working with major labels as a musician and employee, and going to college for music business have provided experience in creating release plans and promoting various music projects. Ultimately, each release — whether a single, EP, or deluxe double album — is special and unique and deserves the same time and care for promotion that you put into its creation and production. Each release will be a different in how you roll it out, how it’s perceived, and what lessons you learn from it, but if you continue to create, share, and enjoy the process, you will continue to grow as an artist.
Read the series
How to promote a release and sell your music, Part 1
How to promote a record release, Part 2: Your release schedule
Preparing your music for distribution: How to release and sell your music, Part 3
How to promote your record release
Carter Fox is a bassist, entrepreneur, and astronomical enthusiast whose spent the past 15 years as a performer, producer, and digital marketing strategist for numerous artists and businesses across the world. In addition to being an accomplished musician, Carter is also the social media marketing manager for Disc Makers. You can find his music on Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, and his official website.
How to get your music heard and seen
How to get played on streaming services and playlists
How to get your music played on college radio
Are you ready for Music PR?
My overnight success was 15 years in the making