‘A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step’
I’m sure you’ve read the title thinking, ‘oh, another music release timeline guide’. This isn’t that, I promise. In this article, I’ll provide a deeper, more concise checklist that is vital before releasing the music you’ve been working weeks/months for.
Let’s dive in. (The list is not in any particular order!)
- Write down your writer/publisher share on a contract, if a physical form is not viable, a digital one will work (as long as a signature is involved)! As well as who owns the master recording, and all the performers within the record (musicians). I don’t care if this is a track you’ve worked on with your mum, when money is involved, people change (trust me on this).
- Make sure you have both the WAV and MP3 files of your songs, as well as other versions of the final track (Main vocals +1/2db, Instrumental, Radio edit, Drums -1/2db etc). Even better is if you could ask your producer to send you the final mastered stems, just in case it is needed one day for a label or sync opportunity (you just never know).
- Make sure the MP3 version has your name, email, and contact info embedded within the file (ask your mastering engineer/producer). I believe this can be done via iTunes as well, so give that a go.
- Understand your market and niche, then exploit it! Gather blogs and influencers who are into your genre of music and try to connect with them! Provide value first, then talk about yourself and your music. You can use sites like SubmitHub, where a compilation of blogs/labels can review or feature your music with a small fee. But make sure you target the right people!
- Register your song with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO). PRS within the UK, ASCAP/BMI in the USA. If you live in another territory, check this out, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_copyright_collection_societies
- Register your song with Soundexchange, if you’d like to collect your digital royalties on SiriusXM/Pandora, or any other non-interactive online radio platform.
- Pick a distributor that will work best for your career and utilise the services they provide! Some of them are: AWAL, Ditto, CDbaby, Tunecore, Distrokid, Bandcamp. Check Ari Herstand’s take on this (thanks Ari!) https://aristake.com/post/cd-baby-tunecore-ditto-mondotunes-zimbalam-or
- Have an all-in-one Electronic Press Kit (EPK). This should include all your music, photos, press release, short/long bio, videos, artwork and any other additional media publications you may need. You can then upload the EPK via google drive, dropbox, or box, depending on how the person or publication wants to download it.
- Update your website and social media hyping the release of your new music! Make sure there is a connected theme within all these social platforms.
- Mailing lists. Yes, you heard me right. What if one day Facebook/Instagram/Youtube/Twitter decides to take a hiatus and/or quit. How are you going to keep in contact with your avid fans? Exactly. Mailing lists allows you to keep in touch with your audience, without the need of relying on a 3rd party platform. Plus, when you send a newsletter or update your fans via an email, you won’t have to figure out any algorithm! They just have to click and read your message! Simple.
- Plan a special event for the release day of your new music. Here are some ideas: Facebook/Youtube live concert, Q/A session with fans via Skype, follow back all the fans that listened to your music and given feedback on it!
- BONUS! All done? Are you ready to release your music yet? If so, this message is important. Time to plan out your next release! Yay! You may be wondering, ‘wait, I’ve just spent a lot of time and effort planning this release, why should I plan my next’? If you want to survive in this fast-paced and saturated industry of ours, you’ve got to be two steps ahead of everybody else. You have to be consistent with your music release and keep up the momentum.
Listen, you can have a huge spot on a big Spotify playlist and gain vast amounts of streams, maybe even fans, but if you don’t have anything planned for the next 2-3 months, they will forget about you (or at least lose effort in investing in you). We have now moved into an era of momentum, and losing it can be a big risk in the digital age. But by planning and organizing your next release, you stay ahead of the game. What do you think Drake does? He doesn’t just release music when he wants to. He has music ready for prime for the next 2 years. Why? Because he understands the game. And now you do too 😊
An as usual, take the advice you think will work for you; and get rid of the ones you don’t agree with (don’t worry, I won’t take it personally).
If you would like to know more, or just connect and chat, come say hi (@jonathanmilanes):