In this piece Chris Robley breaks down why planning your release doubt matters more than ever, even as the way in which listeners find and consume music continues to change.
By Chris Robley of CD Baby's DIY Musician blog
Release dates matter MORE (and less) than ever before.
On the one hand, since shelf space is no longer a factor in making music widely available, there’s less pressure to have a quick win with your new release.
And — as I often say — even your oldest music will always be new to millions or billions of people, so an older song or video can’t get stale as long as you’re serving it to new audiences.
From this perspective, it’s fine to release new music as it’s made, try some things, see what happens, and build upon what works. In the digital age, success really can accrue over the long-haul.
On the other hand, there’s still something to be said for making as big a splash as you can when a new song or album drops.
The more energy you create around your release — in the form of streaming activity, blog mentions, social shares, etc. — the further your music will travel in a short amount of time.
Before you can promote, plan your release date; and then…
1. Offer pre-saves and pre-sales
Communicating with your audience isn’t always about promotion; not every picture or tweet needs a call-to-action. BUT when you’re close to releasing new music, it’s a wasted opportunity to share info about an upcoming song or album without giving fans something they can DO with it.
Instead, choose a release date, sign up your music for distribution in advance, and then let your fans pre-purchase (on iTunes and Amazon) or pre-save it (on Spotify and Apple Music) whenever you talk about the new release.
Those sales are tallied on your release day, and that means you have a better chance of charting in the first week. Similarly, pre-saves will spike your early streaming activity, which could attract the attention of Spotify’s algorithm and lead to playlist placements, Spotify radio placements, and more.
Read more about:
pre-sales on iTunes and Amazon
pre-saves on Spotify
and pre-adds on Apple Music
2. Submit your music directly to official Spotify playlists
If your music has been delivered by CD Baby to Spotify at least 7 days ahead of the release date, you can go into your Spotify for Artists account and submit that song to Spotify’s editorial team for playlist consideration. That means you, we, and Spotify all have to know what your release date is, and you need to plan accordingly.
IMPORTANT: It can take a day or two for Spotify to display the music in your account after we’ve delivered it, so it’s best to sign up everything well in advance, and give it more than the minimum seven day window!
3. Reach ALL your Spotify followers
The above direct-submission process has one other benefit: Guaranteed placement on all your Spotify followers’ Release Radar playlists on your release day (or the Friday that follows). Spotify only has so much bandwidth for curated playlist placements, which is why guaranteed Release Radar placement might be a much bigger deal for you. It’s certainly a more reliable deal!
Depending on the size of your following on Spotify, these guaranteed placements on Release Radar can have a big impact on your early streaming activity. But it ain’t gonna happen unless you submit the song to Spotify at least 7 days ahead of its release.
Use post-launch promotion tools… RIGHT AWAY
As soon as your song is released, you want to do what you can to drive engagement. That means being ready with:
‘social unlock’ promo campaigns to drive streams on Spotify (free for CD Baby clients through Show.co)
video premiere campaigns
Audio messages to your fans via Pandora AMP
Because your music stays “evergreen,” you don’t NEED to hop on all these things right away — but I would! It’s when YOU’LL be most excited about your new music, and that means your heart will be in the fight and your creativity will be flowing.
Don’t wait weeks or months or years. Get all this stuff lined up and ready to fire on Day One. Of course that means you need to set your release date in advance, and then work your way towards it.
These are just four of the online music promo opportunities that are contingent upon you planning for a specific release date well in advance. Obviously PR, blog submissions through something like SubmitHub, radio promo campaigns, and playlist promotion require lots of advance planning too.
Yes, you can finish a song today and have CD Baby distribute it worldwide right away. But why not take just a little bit more time to think ahead and get the most out of every release?