There’s a million things to consider and action when preparing for your music releases: in the build up, on the release day and the weeks beyond. Odds are you’ll forget at least a few things, but it’s important to take your time: build a strategy and plan, map out a timeline and prepare assets way in advance of deciding release dates. Why spend so much energy and investment preparing the perfect songs and recordings to then watch as they don’t fully realise their potential?
We’ve highlighted a few things to remember that might just help you recoup and have a bigger impact:
Neighbouring Rights & PPL
Everyone likes free money, right? Very few artists capitalise on this revenue stream, yet it can be the gift that keeps on giving. It costs nothing and can be residual (or ‘mailbox’) income from your music that once registered you can sit back and wait for the cheques to fly in with little ongoing maintenance.
If you’re in the UK, register (for free) for an audio rights holder account with PPL (and also a performer account if your performance is featured on any recording). Once complete begin registering recordings- PPL also gives you access to your own ISRC generator so all your music sits under the same ‘label’ rather than the generic numbers created by aggregators. Once your recordings are registered (note you now need to register at least 1 featured performer per track) you’ll get paid annually for any radio/TV/public play of the recording. Free money!
It’s crazy how few people complete this process. We recently took on an artist’s already released album- immediately registering the 13 track catalogue with PPL. When June came round we received over £500 for that artist, and everyone who had played on the album got nice little payouts. It wasn’t a particularly big record and less than 18 months old, but for 2 hours worth of admin we’re now sat back, sunning ourselves with the warm fuzzy feeling of having given an artist a whole revenue stream they didn’t have access to previously.
On this note don’t forget to register your products (not just physical!) with MCPS (in the UK, Harry Fox in the US) to make sure any/all the songwriters (yourself included) get paid from sales of the record via mechanical royalties. People won’t want to cowrite with you in the future if you’re not hot on making sure royalties from previous collaborations flow to them correctly (and quickly), so make sure this is all sown up before the release date.
It’s not a great plan to just use your own social media channels to tell your fans about content you’re putting out- you’re reaching people who already like your music. You also need to stretch and get in front of those who haven’t heard of you yet. Dropping content straight to Youtube and posting once about it won’t lead to a viral success- you need other outlets with a bigger audience talking about it too.
Connect with blogs you enjoy reading, or who are focused on your genre. Get to know their contributing writers- if you share a love of the same music you should get on like a house of fire! This is one of the best ways of building rapport with media outlets- which is helped by offering something in return for their support: a premiere. Ask if they’d like to premiere your video or track to their audience, giving them an exclusive period of time to post about your music before anyone else. Direct all your fans there, share their posts when they release a write-up and thank the writer directly, publicly and quickly. It’s a far more effective strategy for getting new fans to discover your music- and your old fans will see the exclusive either way when you post about it so it’s win win.
There’s so many new ways to promote music (some of which are super effective)- but sometimes the oldies are the best, and can even stand out more in the current climate. Have you thought about buying physical newspaper ad space? A billboard? Do you have a mailing list? Email blasts are still one of the most direct ways to get your news in front of people- you stand out in someone’s inbox more than in a constant feed of self-promoting artists all shouting about their latest releases.
Everyone globally releases music on a Friday- why not think about saving your mailout for after the weekend? Use it as a secondary follow up from the Friday hype and avoid being lost in everyone else’s noise. You can then also include any cool press mentions you received over the weekend. Neat.
Setup some kind of live streaming event for your release day. FB and Instagram’s algorithm jumps live stuff right to the top of everyone’s feeds, giving a far larger organic reach than your usual posts. Live Q&As, acoustic performances, simple low-key chats to camera and interviews- anything goes really, so long as it’s live and natural. Engage with your fans by talking about the release, or simply thanking people for listening/streaming/purchasing. The more interactive the better: you want your fans to see the real you- not just the salesy always-pitching-something-to-them version of you. People crave authenticity in the era of social media so just be yourself, be honest and have fun! It’s much more engaging than just a simple “check my new music out!” post, as well as being promoted on people’s feeds better by the social media giants.
Make sure EVERYTHING about you digitally is inter-connected. Connect your social media accounts to each other. Put follow buttons on the end of your mail outs, and mailing list signups on your website. Change all your cover photos simultaneously and check the ‘Shop Now’ buttons are linked in correctly. Use websites like smartURL.it to create pivot pages to all the digital stores through 1 link. Update your website with tour dates, latest video content and working links.
Connect your Spotify to your concert list via SongKick– this will promote your upcoming events on your Spotify page (where you should also have an up-to-date bio, social media links, photos).
It’s hard to keep on top of all your online presence across the entire web, but brand awareness and marketing go a lot further if the same images, colour scheme and logo are seen everywhere by people browsing (the recent Tom Misch campaign is a great example of this).
Distrokid also have a new ‘hyper-follow’ feature– fans can click a link to pre-save your upcoming release to their Spotify and follow you as an artist. The cool part is it then gives you their email address in return (to add to your mailing list). Pretty neat- you need as much demographic data about your fanbase as possible to help guide your ad spend, and creating links with click stats can be an invaluable tool.