Today we’re talking about eight marketing tips that you should implement for ALL your releases
As a release approaches, tension starts building up until you realise that you should have done a bit of work before the actual release week. Now, a bit too late, you rush to make things and send your emails until the release day comes.
After the release, you start seeing results and supports kicking in, or not, and the thought of “How could I have made the next release better” will possibly pop in your head. If that’s something you closely relate, this post is for you.
To help you develop your release beyond this post, I’ve prepared a “Release Checklist” for you to make the most out of your release. You can download it for free over here.
This is what we’re covering today:
- Is Marketing Necessary?
- Define Your Goals for This Release
- Find the Right Label or Release It Yourself
- Prepare Your Email List for Artist Support
- Prepare/Organize your Release Assets
- Make a ‘Release Assets’ Document for Write-Ups
- Prepare Your Blog/Youtube/Spotify List
- Prepare Your Campaigns Ahead of Time
- Separate a Budget for Your Campaigns
Let’s dive right in
Is Marketing Necessary?
OF COURSE, and it’s part of your art. Yes, marketing is part of your artistry, whether you want it or not.
If your song is the canvas where an artist paints, Marketing would be responsible for the perfect frame, the perfect location where the painting would be displayed and the hype over the artist.
There’s nothing wrong with not doing any marketing for your track and just releasing it as a personal goal, but, if you’re reading this post, most likely you want to get better results with your tracks. Therefore, I’ve prepared a marketing checklist for you to follow before your releases.
Define Your Goals for This Release
What do you want with this release and why? Ask yourself why you’re putting all the work in to release this track. Is it exposure? Is it money? Do you want support? Is it self-gratification?
Before even beginning to plan your marketing efforts for a release, you need to have clarity in your head why you’re releasing this track and what your goals are with it, otherwise you may start planning something without knowing the purpose of it. Honestly, I’d say that this is key for you to start everything else that I’ll mention below with the perfect mindset.
For example, let’s say your target is money. Ok, then a self release is probably the right choice for you since, depending on the label, you might not get as much money as in a self release. However, a label may get the exposure that a self release won’t get you, so you’d have to look into the label’s following and do some math to check what will be most valuable to you.
Do you think Sofi Tukker would be able to achieve almost 18M plays on Spotify on their recently released song without a major label backing it? Who knows, right? But, I’d say it would be hard, but not impossible.
Let’s say your plan is to get exposure. Then, going with a top tier label might be what you’re looking for since they might be able to place your song into a big playlist on Spotify and get you big support. You might even consider partnering up with a bigger artist to bring attention to the release.
Thinking about the financial purpose again, getting 18M plays on one of their tracks might have gotten Sofi Tukker enough attention to raise their show’s revenue. Assuming they have 50% of the royalties of this track (which is unlikely), they would have been entitled to around 36k USD from Spotify, which is something they could have easily made from shows after a hit like that.
Lastly, let’s say your plan is to get your album out, regardless of the result. In this scenario, I’d consider going for a self-release since then you’d be able to control all the marketing aspects of your release. At the same time, you’d have to control all the marketing aspects of it, so it’s not all benefits.
As I’ve said, it all depends on your goals with this release.
Find the Right Label or Release It Yourself
Don’t sign with a label just for the sake of signing to it. Why should you give away the rights and at least 50% of the revenue share of your track if the label will not provide you with any benefits? A label is supposed to bring in something to the table and, if they are not, then release it yourself.
For the sake of the explanation, let’s say your target label is Armada or Spinnin’, why should they care about your track rather than the guy next door? Is the quality of your track there? Big labels are amazing outlets for your tracks, but they are extremely hard to get into, and even if you’re getting into them, what will they do for you? Does that align with your release’s goal?
Let’s now give a similar example, but with a small or medium size label. How are their results, supports, plays? What are they willing to do for you marketingwise? Would it be better to be a priority release here than a non-priority release in a big label?
The takeaway here is that sometimes it’s better to be a small act in a big label, or a big act in a small label. It will all go down to what your goals are and if what the label has to offer to your release align with your needs. If they don’t, release independently.
For a self release, I’d recommend CDBABY since it’s the one I’ve worked with in the past. I thought the process was really easy and I love their founder, Derek Sivers. I’m not the biggest fan of Distrokid though, which is a really popular one, because of videos like the one below.
Lastly, you could try to get into AWAL. Although I’ve never tried AWAL, after watching the video from Ryan Waczek from the Indie Music Academy, it got me curious about it.
Prepare Your Email List for Artist Support
Regardless if you’re releasing with a label or not, you must send out your own email list as well. And, as expected, to send it, you must be able to collect the emails that will be eager to listen to your track. You can see an in-depth tutorial on how to create your list right here.
What would you do if a stranger sends something to you that was completely off your genre? You’d probably ignore it, right? That’s why you should focus on artists that have played or have a high chance of playing what you send.
To illustrate what I’m saying to you, although I sent 250+ emails for Take Me Away, I didn’t send more than 150 emails for Stay With Me since I’m tailoring my email list to each specific delivery. The downloads on Stay With Me were 20% lower than Take Me Away, which is a better result considering I sent 40% less emails on Stay With Me than Take Me Away.
Here’s what you should follow:
- Collect all emails that you’d like to collect ahead of time. I’d recommend doing this at least 1 month from the release;
- From the emails you’re collecting, tailor which suits the release that you’re blasting three weeks prior to the release. For example, don’t send a tech trance to someone who plays progressive;
- Check with the label regarding the promo blast plan two to three weeks prior to the release. Ask their permission to send your promo blast as well;
- Plan your promo blast on a Sunday/Monday. I’ve tried all days, but these have proven to be the most effective to me, but it could be different to you;
- 11AM to 1 PM EST are normally good times to send promo blasts since you can get everyone awake when they receive, although I don’t think that this really matters. Email opens are really sparse;
- If you don’t have an email client that lets you send sequence emails, I’d recommend the free plans from Mailerlite, Mailchimp or Sendinblue (I use this one for abstraktmusiclab.com) to send out personalized emails. Don’t send it as HTML emails though, prefer rich text!
Prepare/Organize your Release Assets
You should prepare your release assets, whether this is just organizing what the label has sent you or just making it yourself. If you don’t know if you have enough assets for the release, here is a list of release assets that you should have at least two weeks before the release date:
- Press Photos
- Cover photo;
- Release Date;
- Audio Files (Mp3 and WAV);
- Spotify URL;
- Spotify Pre-Save Link;
- Release Smart Link;
- Social media covers (Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter, Spotify, Instagram);
- Pre and Post release videos (All should be adapted to all social medias);
- Post drafts (preparing all texts ahead of time).
All should be described when and how to use them in a Release Plan. If you’re with a label, they will probably send these assets to you two to four weeks prior to the release. If you’re by yourself, you’ll have to do it yourself.
If you have never worked with this label before, ask them if they will make these. If they don’t, make it yourself. Remember it’s your release more than anything, so you’re probably the one working the most!
Make a ‘Release Assets’ Document for Write-Ups
In addition, you’ll need your ‘Release Assets’ to your marketing efforts, which are assets for anyone writing about or promoting your track in any way.
Here are my release assets for my release Stay With Me, that happened on Aug 21st, 2020:
This link has all the links and files that any blog / website / youtube channel should need for a release. Use easy to download and preview-ready links for all your assets, which can be done using Soundcloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, or any website that lets you share a streaming link.
Prepare Your Blog/Youtube/Spotify List
Now that the assets are ready, who can help you better promote your track? Are there any blogs that post similar tracks, or YouTube playlists that you’d love to get into. These media outlets will help you grow your fan base and expand your reach, which could lead you to more plays and more followers, which can compound over time.
There are several ways to reach these blogs, youtube channels, and other media outlets, but my preferred way is via email. If you can find a way to collect emails, you can try https://www.submithub.com/, which will help you spread the word to these media outlets, although you’d be competing with A LOT more artists trying to get a spot.
One thing to mention is that the more personal you can make these emails the better. Assuming that this media outlet promotes your kind of music, find out their email, try to find the name of the person who you’re emailing something to and send them a copy at least two weeks before your release.
This was my first email to the channel ‘The Grand Sound’ and look how impersonal it is to send it to “Hello”. After discovering the guy’s name, let’s say it is Joseph, the next track I sent them had “Joseph, how are you?” instead.
If you want to go even further, a week or two before emailing them your promo, send them an email asking if it’s ok to send your track to them for consideration. It’s one thing to send something out of nowhere to someone and another to send to someone who’s expecting you to send.
Some blogs or channels may ask you for exclusivity, so, again, understand what you want to achieve with every email that you send and offer them right away. Here’s a checklist of what you should do regarding blog emails:
- 1,5 months before your release, collect emails that you’d like to send tracks to;
- Ask permission from your label to send out promos to blogs, youtube channels and spotify channels;
- Three/Two weeks prior to your release, submit the tracks to the channels that you’d like to see your track at. Offer ‘Premieres’ or exclusivity if your label allows you to;
- If a YouTube channel accepts your offer, you’ll probably need to sign an authorization form, which you’ll need to ask the label to sign it for you;
- Once accepted, forward the assets you’ve made before to them so they have full coverage.
Prepare Your Campaigns Ahead of Time
Marketing campaigns of any sort must be planned out beforehand to help drive the results.
Here’s a video campaign by my friend Liguori, who did it for his track ‘Off My Shoulders’ where people had to submit videos of them dancing to the song. This brought some attention to the track, the artist and label, receiving support from major acts like David Guetta, Don Diablo, Roger Sanchez and Mark Knight. Here’s the compilation of the some of the videos from the campaign:
Instead of just waiting for people to randomly post as you go asking them after the release date, anticipate the request and get these videos at least two weeks before the release. By planning in advance, when the release comes, you’re able to post these videos consistently, which can lead to more people joining you on your pursuit to viralize the campaign.
Let’s think about a Spotify campaign for more plays. If you’re trying to bump up your plays and even after some playlists accepting it you want to increase it, ask some friends beforehand to play it a couple times. When the time comes to release your track, you already have their approval and you can just trigger them to put the plan in practice.
The most important metric here, though, is that this is a two-way street. Do/ask what you’re willing to do for others as well, otherwise this can harm your relationship.
Separate a Budget for Your Campaigns
In addition to hitting all your fans and friends, you might want to consider using ads to promote your tracks as well as part of your marketing campaign. Although I’ve never tried it so I can’t really tell on the effectiveness of these techniques, Toneden is offering a Spotify Growth plan, in which they help you streamline the investment you’re making on Spotify. Check the image below:
Or you can check a bunch of videos on youtube that teach you how you can use Facebook Ads to promote your tracks by yourself below:
I can’t, however, comment on the effectiveness of these campaigns since I’ve never done it. At the same time, I’ll update this post once I’ll do it.
Now it’s Your Turn!
These you go: 8 marketing steps that I’ve done or considered in the past for my releases.
Now I’d like to hear what you have to say:
Which of these steps will you try on your next release?
Let me know in the comments below!