Perfect Your Release Strategy in 2023: The Ultimate Checklist for Independent Artists
Perfect Your Release Strategy in 2023: The Ultimate Checklist for Independent Artists
Posted on 4 January 2023
If you are planning a debut release for 2023 or looking for your new music to pick up more traction than your 2022 releases, we’ve compiled the ultimate step-by-step release strategy to follow through your music release campaign.
All too often, we see independent artists scramble around trying to promote their new singles, EPs, and albums immediately before or after their music has hit the airwaves. While this is fine if you are releasing your music for fun, any artist wanting to make the maximum impact with their music will want to ensure that the hours spent in the studio don’t go to waste due to a lacklustre release strategy.
In 2022, 22 million new singles hit Spotify. That is a new song every 1.4 seconds! Standing out in this increasingly competitive industry will only get more difficult. However, for artists willing to do the heavy lifting with the promotional work, there is still a shot at success.
While sitting on your new releases for the recommended duration of three months may be frustrating, it is the recommended timeframe to build an effective campaign and get everything into place with time to spare. This timeframe goes for artists using a DIY approach to promotion or artists with enough of a budget to enlist PR help.
NEVER be the kind of artist who springs a release on a PR company on the date of release, or after, then complain about the lack of attention! Once you have tied up all the copyrights and other legal matters to protect your music and royalties, you can start to build anticipation around your release.
How to Perfect Your Release Strategy in 2023
Start Promoting Your Music During the Creation Process
Keep promotion in mind while you are creating your new releases. Creation-journey videos and other content is vital promo material for social media. Not only does it tease what is to come, but it also helps build connections with fans who enjoy feeling like they are part of the process with you. To increase engagement on your posts, you can also run polls and ask for opinions on anything from track names to cover art.
Three Months Before the Release
Create a Marketing Plan
Once your music is recorded, mixed, and mastered, decide whether you will hire a PR team or use the DIY promo approach. The existing connections of PR agencies can be highly beneficial to your campaign. If your budget won’t stretch that far, if you do enough research and practice your pitches, you can still make some great connections.
Start Playlist Research
Getting your music on a popular or official playlist is one of the best ways to boost the reach of your new releases as an independent artist. Your playlist plan should consist of
- Preparing your best songs to submit to Spotify Editors after creating a detailed description of your best tracks.
- Building personal playlists before releasing your new music to build up play and a following by using similar tracks to attract fans.
- Finding contact details for independent playlist curators through the help of services such as Submit Hub.
Two Months Before the Release
Finalise Your Artwork
In the digital era of music, image is everything. Never leave your artwork as an afterthought or try to knock something up on Photoshop if you have no idea how to use it! Pay a designer to design artwork that is as eye-catching as it is on-brand. These images can be plastered across your socials, be a part of your EPK and work as cover art for all your artist profiles.
Find a Third-Party Distro Site for Your Spotify Pre-Saves
Once you are equipped with on-brand artwork and alternative artist/band images, scout for a distribution platform for your Spotify pre-saves. We highly recommend Ditto and CD Baby for these services. By getting your fans to pre-save your Spotify release, you will increase the chances of your new releases appearing on New Music and Discover Weekly playlists.
Widen Your Net & Fill Your Social Media Content Calendar
At this point in the campaign, you should also be looking to increase your audience and fill your social media calendar. To widen the reach of your posts, use your time on social media wisely by friending and following bloggers who would be interested in covering your music, local music venues, and any other figures in the industry who you can turn into warm contacts. Also, be on the lookout for music fans to connect with who are in your target audience!
Ideally, your content calendar should be filled to the point of release. It should include countdowns, artwork unveilings, invitations to listening parties, live launch invitations, Spotify pre-save link promotions etc. To make posting across all the relevant platforms less time-consuming, use a social media marketing organiser, and schedule the posts to prepare for the coming weeks.
6 Weeks Before Your Release
Release Standout Singles from EPs and Albums
If you are releasing an EP or an album, six weeks before the launch is the prime time to release a single or two with the help of a distributor. The distributor should also be used to distribute your full album or EP across all of the popular music platforms, including Spotify, Bandcamp, Deezer, Tidal, iTunes, Amazon Music and Google Play.
Send Your Single Submissions to Spotify Curators
Using your previous research on Spotify playlist curators, utilising the Spotify for Artists feature and firing off your submissions should ideally happen six weeks before your music will land on the platforms. Spotify playlist curators get inundated with requests, which is just one of the reasons to send them early. For more information on how to go about your Spotify playlist submissions read our guide here.
Drive Your Social Media Followers to Your Artist/Band Page
If it has been a while since you went through your personal Facebook contact list, now is the perfect opportunity to send a fresh invitation to your artist/band page. While some artists only choose to do this when they get a new friend connection, the process is far more effective once you have been connected with them for a while. While this might not seem a big deal, industry figures, such as promoters, radio stations and bloggers, still notice your following numbers!
One Month Before the Release
Announce a Launch Show or Listening Party
Playing your new release live is a great way to increase sales and attention around the release and bolster your release strategy. Ideally, the launch show should happen on the day or shortly after the official release date. If you don’t play live, you can always opt for a listening party or live stream on social media. Always think outside the box with these events and make them as unmissable as possible!
Two Weeks Before the Release
Prepare Your Website for Release Day & Send Newsletters
If you already have an email list for your marketing, enlist the help of your superfans to spread the word about your release. Rather than expecting them to do your promo for free, give them an incentive to do so. Allow them to win a free signed vinyl or CD copy, a free piece of merch, or tickets to your launch show. At this point, your website should contain a digital EPK with news and info about your new release.
Contact Music Reviewers, Bloggers, and Radio Stations
Music media sites love exclusive content. Always give your favourite blogs, websites and radio stations the opportunity to give their audience an exclusive premiere of your new music in addition to contacting all of the media outlets that are a good fit for your music. The more positive press and critical acclaim you have amassed around your new music, the higher the chances of music fans checking it out!
On the Day of the Release
If you thought that the hard work was finally over, think again! During the release day, skin all your socials with an OUT NOW message. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words. Always use Canva to create unique graphics for each post.
If you are a newsletter user, make another announcement to your avid mailing list as a part of your release strategy. Even if your mailing list is infinitely smaller than your social media following, there is a greater chance of your contacts seeing the newsletter when it drops into their inbox.
On Instagram, update your bio, create a story and a post, and ask for feedback when you go live!
On Facebook, pay for a sponsored ad sharing the release info, edit your About Me section, ad a story, or go live.
On Twitter, tweet about your new release and pin it to the top of your page.
On Spotify, update the profile photo and header with your artwork, update your bio and add your new release as the Artist’s Pick.
If you are looking for professional promotional help for your new release strategy or campaign, our A&R team is always on standby. A&R Factory’s music development services help independent artists gain more exposure, plays, fans, and placements! Enquire about our services via this link. Or submit your independent music for review on our award-winning blog.
Article by Amelia Vandergast