In today’s digital world – with so much music available at the click of a streaming button – working singles into your pre-release plan is an important consideration.
Whilst there are various ways of doing this, the most common is by instead of giving people the whole album in one go and trusting that they will sit and listen to it in full, you build a connection with current and future fans by introducing them to one song at a time.
What does that involve?
Once you’ve finished recording, mixing & mastering your new album or EP and planned a release date, pick 2, 3 or even 4 tracks to release in that build up. One by one, these tracks are released on all digital platforms, along with your best efforts on shouting about it to fans and industry. Alongside this, you can communicate the news that the full album is on its way on X date.
What’s the schedule?
It’s up to you to decide, but consider starting as far as 3 months before the full album release date and then releasing a new single every 4-6 weeks. Essentially what you’re doing is:
a) Extending the period you have to shout about your new music by a couple of months
b) Grabbing attention of new fans by a much simpler offering of listening to one track at a time
c) Reminding people multiple times that the full album is coming on X date
Any other benefits?
If you are a relatively new artist, this also gives you more than one chance to refine your release plan. Maybe with the first single you forget to reach out to some blogs, or find out they prefer to receive music in a different format. Maybe they can’t cover it right then, but ask you to keep them posted on next ‘news.’ Maybe a promoter also checks the track and asks for updates. In all these cases, your next opportunity to reach out to them is not in 12-18 months’ time (as it would be if you’d just pitched the whole album), but 3-4 weeks.
If you’re working to build a following on Spotify, singles gives you multiple opportunities to pitch for playlisting. As you might know, whenever you have new music scheduled, you can submit one (and only one) track. So, release the whole album on the same day and you have the chance to submit one track from it. But release 3 singles before the full album and you have the chance to submit 4 tracks in that same period.
To get all this pre-release planning working, it’s important to have a release date planned. Ideally that should be:
– A Friday– Far enough in the future to take care of all the other tasks– Avoiding December (Christmas, major releases)– Avoiding July-August (holidays, less press available)
Having a great set of press photos to promote your new album can make a big difference to how much attention it gets. Think fresh, eye-catching and in keeping with the style of your project
Ideally, you’ll have a handful (3-5) that are made available to everyone and used in the album artwork (the front cover and/or inlay), social media, press releases, website and any other promo materials.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
– Make sure there are landscape and portrait options as different publications have different requirements. – Needless to say, high res is vital if you want it used professionally.– Try to keep a consistent style through all the photos so they are easily recognisable as you.– Make it easy for people to get them. For example, all in a Dropbox or Google Drive so you can simply send a link.
A new release is a good time to update your website. Not only will it give you the opportunity to make sure all the links are up-to-date and pointing to the newest record, it also means you can update the colours and images to reflect the branding on the album.
How you do this technically depends on how you built your website, but here are some basics to keep in mind…
Make your pre-order call-to-action prominent. This could be a button, a banner across the top, or an image in the main body of the site. Whichever way you do it, make sure it’s on the homepage so all visitors see it. And, of course, once release day arrives, switch the wording to ‘buy now’ instead of ‘pre-order now.’
Make sure you have logos linking out to all the regular places: Spotify, iTunes, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube & Mailing list.
Feature teaser tracks and/or singles embedded directly from Spotify or youtube.
Incorporate images/artwork from the album into the main header and images on the site.
Try to use one or two prominent colours from the album cover in the site design too.
There are various assets you probably already have that need an update in time for a new release – and your biography is almost certainly one of them!
A one page (maximum) piece of text to put on your website and send to journalists alongside your press release, for those who want a more detailed insight into what you do. Ideally it’s not just a timeline (childhood, education, performances, recordings, credits) but a creatively-written piece which gives the reader an insight into what you’ve been up to and how you got to where you are now, releasing this new album.
If you already have a relatively up-to-date biography you’re happy with, you can look to add a couple of new intro paragraphs yourself, possibly taking bits from your press release.
If it’s your first time putting this together – or you want a completely fresh take on it – a great idea is to find a music journalist you like and ask them to do it. Of course, it’s not free, but you might be surprised at how affordable it is, considering it’s a tool that could open the door to better reviews and better gigs. If you go down this route, the usual set up would be to send the music to the writer, meet or Skype with them to answer questions and give background, check and edit the final version. If you’re interested in this and aren’t who to ask, you can post in the forum via the button below for recommendations.
Selling your album should not start on release day, but from weeeeeks before, on the day it’s announced.
Have 2 important dates marked in your diary:
DATE 1: Announce Album + Pre-Sale (same day)DATE 2: Full Album Release
A common schedule for pre-sale would look like this:
1) Finish recording, mixing, mastering & album artwork, then pick a final release date for the album2) Upload music & artwork to digital stores like iTunes, set the final release date but make it available for pre-order on DATE 13) Set up your online store where people can order physical copies (Bandcamp? MusicGlue? WooCommerce? WordPress with Paypal?) and mark it as available for pre-order.4) Once it’s available in all these places, announce via social media, press release, newsletter and anywhere else that:
“New album is coming on XXX date, but you can pre-order your copy – physical or digital – from TODAY”
The link you have to this pre-order is the link you should be using for the next few weeks whenever you’re posting news or updates. For example, you share a photo from the rehearsal room on Facebook, and note “pre-order here”
Some people will need an extra push to order your new music weeks before they’ll actually receive it. Why not just wait until it’s out? For this reason, consider making your pre-release copies special and in limited numbers.
The most basic example would be to say that there are 100 signed copies available for pre-release. Sell those and you’ve already made €1,000+ before release date.
However, lots of bands get creative with this and there’s not limit to what you can offer. Think painted/stencilled/hand-drawn versions of the album cover, personalised notes or shout-outs and dedicated videos on social media.
As long as you’re already verified and have access to the Spotify For Artists dashboard, you can submit a new track to Spotify for playlist consideration in the days leading up to release day.
It’s easy, but it must be done in advance. Here are the steps:
1. Get your music scheduled with Spotify via your label or a digital distributor more than 2 weeks before release date2. As soon as it’s showing up on your Spotify For Artists dashboard, navigate from the Music tab to the Upcoming tab and then complete the requested information for playlist submission.
– You can only submit ONE track at a time. If you’re releasing a single, submit it. If you’re releasing an album, pick a track and submit it. – You cannot submit a track after it’s been released. So you MUST do this in advance. – Spotify advises you submit this track more than SEVEN days before release date, to allow time for their editors to check it out.
If you’re not already set up or familiar with the Spotify dashboard check out this short guide here:
If you want some general info on the editorial playlists, you can find it here:
However good your memory is, don’t skip this one…
Sit down with a piece of paper and start jotting down names of anyone within the industry who has helped or supported you in some way during your career. Some examples:
Whenever you think you’re done, force yourself to spend an extra 5 minutes on this so you really have everyone.
We spend so much time thinking about how we can introduce new people to our project, that sometimes we neglect those people who are already on board.
These people should be an easier route to spreading the news of your new album, if you reach out to them – personally – to keep them updated with the project and share some exclusive content.
Ideally, reach out to all of them in advance of the release with a link (or physical copy) of the music. Then, on or just after release day, you might get in touch to ask a small favour, such as to share a video clip online or to pass onto any of their colleagues who might be interested.
The key, as with most personal contacts, is to strengthen the connection before you ask a favour!
You know that old friend who gets in touch out of the blue to ask for a favour..?
Don’t treat the current fans on your mailing list the same way!
Sending a newsletter to promote a gig or new album – after months of silence – will only result in low open rates, low click rates and high unsubscribe rates.
Ideally, you should be connecting with fans on your mailing list semi-regularly, so they’re used to opening emails from you. In fact, you should giving giving rather than asking in most of them, so they even look forward to your interesting/witty/insightful contact.
If you haven’t been keeping up with this, though, don’t wait until release week. Get started now by planning a regular (eg monthly) note where you share something they can’t get anywhere else. Maybe a video clip from the recording studio, a clip of one of the new tracks, a curated playlist or even just some info about what’s coming up.
This should put you in a good position to announce the pre-sale of your album a few weeks in advance of release day, along with a couple of reminders along the way.
If you plan to sell physical CDs and/or vinyl for your new album, it needs to be planned well in advance to allow for manufacturing times. Although it can be as quick as a couple of weeks, you should ideally get this moving a couple of months in advance, especially if you plan to send final copies to press too.
The cost of manufacturing depends on various things (quantity, turnaround time, colours, booklet, type of packaging etc) but as, a rough guide, get some second opinions if you are being quoted more than 1-3 Euros/Pounds/Dollars per CD or 5-7 for vinyl.
As you probably know, the biggest thing that affects price is the quantity you order, so whatever amount you decide on, it’s worth checking quotes for a few extra copies, just in case.
Want recommendations on CD/Vinyl manufacturers (or to check a quote you’ve received)? Post in the forum via the button below.
“Should I hire a publicist?” is a common question when planning a release.
Generally, publicists work on an album release over 2-4 months and charge a fixed fee for this. For an established PR, this is likely to be well over €1,000 / $1,150. So, with that in mind, it’s important to give this some careful consideration.
If you are working with an unlimited money (!) then yes, having someone who is connected with the right journalists and press targets is beneficial. However, assuming you are working on a budget like most musicians, there are several important things to consider when planning this.
What is your realistic expectation for press coverage? If you are known on the jazz scene and feel that reviews in national newspapers or magazines is likely, a publicist can open the doors for you here. If, however, it’s a first release and you are aiming mainly for blogs, maybe it’s something you can do yourself?
What territory are you focused on? Generally, publicists only work their own country or territory. So you need to consider which places are most important to you – either because of previous success or future goals – when deciding.
Is this the right publicist for my project?Do they work with artists who play similar music and on a similar level? And, if so, have they achieved good results for them? The best way is to ask musicians you know for recommendations.
Will I get a return on my investment? It’s not a good idea to jump into something as expensive as PR and just hope that something ‘good’ happens. I’ll be honest: it’s unlikely that the cost of a publicist will be repaid in the short term from album sales. So think longer term: if they achieve X/Y/Z press coverage, will that give you a better chance of getting X/Y/Z festival that would make you some decent money?
What do I want them to do?As with every part of your career, you’re the boss. It’s tempting to hand over your project to a publicist and let them do what they want with it, but actually showing that you have set goals and expectations not only helps them work better, it also keeps them more focused on the project.
If you’d like recommendations on publicists in specific territories – or have questions about your options and offers – you can post in the forum via the button below… If you’re working on a lower budget but don’t want to do it all yourself, you can find out about the Jazzfuel digital PR campaigns here. We do a discount for all Jazzfuel members.
Having a launch gig in your city (or the capital city of your country of state) is an important part of the pre-release plan for several reasons:
– It gives you another piece of news to shout about on social media– It stretches out the release period so it’s not all over in a matter of days– It’s an extra reason for journalists to write about you
Ideally, the launch gig should be within the few weeks after the release date. Planning it like this means that you can use any attention created by release day – both on social media and via the press – to sell extra tickets for the gig. Think about booking a venue you’re confident you can sell out, for extra buzz.
The launch show is mainly a promotional tool to create extra attention about an upcoming release, and then extra content (live photos, videos, reviews) in the days afterwards. If you are working to book a TOUR for the new album, this can be even more spread out in the months following release date. The idea behind this is that people hear about you via the album reviews and press and then when they visit your website, they see that there are shows coming up that they can buy tickets to. If the tour and release date are too close, there’s less time for that to happen.
If your release date is not 100% fixed, try booking a gig a few weeks later than this to account for any possible delays. It’s much better to have the launch show 5 weeks after the release than 2 weeks before!
NEED MORE HELP BOOKING GIGS?
Check this step-by-step strategy on the Jazzfuel site.
If you’re running the pre-release properly, you’ll need to be sending music to press, promoters and other connections well in advance of release date.
Promoters are generally happy with streaming links, so I recommend you make a private soundcloud link for this. I’d also suggest you make a couple of different versions:
– Full album for any press contacts– 3-4 focus tracks for promoters
Press – especially radio – will need files, so I suggest you put the album on Dropbox as both MP3 and WAVs and have a link ready to send.
For both these options, make use of the free tool at bitly.com to make the links shorter and more descriptive. For example, the Dropbox link could be changed to something like bit.ly/BandNameAlbumName
Once you’ve got those links, put them onto a word doc somewhere – along with all your other pre-release materials – so they can be easily accessed.
If you’ve already arranged or completed the recording of your album, chances are you are already sorted for mixing and mastering. However, if you are looking for recommendations or advice on this, post some details in the forum and I’ll share some recommendation.
Assuming you have new video content for the upcoming release, securing a premiere is a great way to squeeze some extra attention out of it.
Put simply, you offer a blog or magazine website the opportunity to embed the video on their page on release day. Obviously you should only give this to one place and you should first push all your fans to watch it there, before embedding it on your own social media pages.
The goal of this is to reach possible fans who don’t necessarily know you already. It also gives you a nice piece of ‘news’ to send to clubs, festivals and other press targets, because “XXX just premiered the new video for YYY” is much more convincing than “Watch our new video.”
A few things to consider:
Haven’t found your ideal partner? We run a regular premiere on the Jazzfuel website, so feel free to send me info if you’d like to be featured on that: https://jazzfuel.com/jazz-video-releases/
Everything you need to know to get your Spotify profile looking great
In 2019, your Spotify profile should be thought of as another type of social media, where you can connect with people and convert them into fans. In preparation for your new release – and all the extra attention you’re going to be creating – take a few minutes to make sure your profile is up-to-date and complete.
Update or refresh each of these sections on your Spotify profile:
If you are releasing this record yourself, you need a digital distributor to get it onto the various online stores; iTunes, Deezer, Spotify, etc. The most well-known options are:
A lot of time can get wasted by comparing the different percentages or offers from the various platforms. If you have the time and motivation to do this, feel free. But, in reality, the work you put in to prepare and promote this record is going to make much more difference financially than which of these providers you go with.
So, if you’re looking to keep things simple, here’s the decision:
When you release new music it’s always good to have a little help spreading the news.
Not all people who check out or discover your new project will immediately be motivated to share it, so it’s really beneficial to highlight a handful of ‘superfans’ that you can count on. These are friends, family members and/or fans who ‘like’ or ‘share’ everything you post on social media and support you as much as possible.
Asking these people for some help in spreading the news of your new album won’t be a chore for them – it will be a pleasure. So, in advance of the release, make sure you put these names (emails, Twitter handles, Facebook names…) onto paper – digitally or virtually – and keep them updated with extra special contact about what’s coming up.
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