Industry news & advice blog

10 Things to Think About Before Your Next Release

This blog is contributed by AWAL. AWAL is Kobalt's unique alternative to the traditional music label, offering artists and independent labels a range of services without having to give up ownership or control. With local offices around the world, AWAL's services include global distribution, marketing and release management, A&R, funding, playlist promotion, radio & PR, YouTube monetisation, and access to real-time comprehensive music data and insights through the AWAL App.


When it comes to preparing for your next release there’s a ton of planning that needs to be done well before the actual release date itself. As you probably know from previous releases, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. There’s just so much to consider in order to fully maximize the exposure and overall performance of your upcoming music.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of 10 essential factors every artist should be fitting into their pre-release plan, so you can ensure you’ve checked the biggies off your list.


1. MAKE A RELEASE TIMELINE

Like with pretty much anything and everything - organisation is key. There are a million things for you to keep track of, so before you start anything, begin with making yourself a clean, easy-to-follow timeline. This will be your guide during your entire release process, highlighting all major milestones and all important dates. Think about splitting your timeline into 3 major sections - pre-release, release date, and post release.


2. THINK SOCIAL INFLUENCERS 

Influencer marketing is a huge aspect to start thinking about before your release. Think about who are the key people to get involved ahead of time whom you can get to share your music or your news. Consider press, industry contacts, or even just peers, fans, and/or any partners. Ideally, you want to aim for individuals and/or organisations who have a substantial following. It’s best to approach them in advance, and tying in with your timeline. That way you can benefit from their following.


3. ORGANISE YOUR CREATIVE ASSETS 

Visuals are everything. You need to make sure you’ve got visuals which are compelling and really grab an onlookers’ attention. Make sure you plan and prepare your photo and video content well beyond your release date. It can be extremely useful to create a downloadable folder with promo images, gifs, music, a one-sheet, so it’s easy for industry contacts, your publicist, and/or team to help lock in any premieres, shows, and/or any partnerships.


4. PARTNER WITH A MUSIC DISTRIBUTOR 

How are you getting your music out there on all the major services? That’s obviously the most important part! There are tons of music distributors out there that will take that burden off your shoulders and can really maximize your exposure. For example, AWAL distributes to different stores and services covering 190 territories across the world such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and, YouTube Red, and also has some pretty awesome relationships with major DSPs to help artists get on more of the hottest playlists, more frequently.


5. UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE 

As we’ve mentioned before, your website is your central hub for any big news. It’s where many of your existing and prospective fans will be looking to for any new releases. So, it’s important you plan ahead with that in mind. Before a new release you want to make sure your website is looking its best. Make it easy for people to learn more about you, and ensure your fans can get the key info in one place including tour dates, store, contacts, biog, videos, social and listening links.

More importantly though, make sure news about your upcoming release is front and centre, with pre-order call to actions taking precedence. Beyond that, think about matching the aesthetics of your website to that of your upcoming release. Updating hero visuals with the artwork and information about your arriving music is definitely a good idea.


6. UPDATE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES
 
As well as your website, you’ll definitely want to update your social media profiles in advance of your release. Consider updating your headers and profile images with release information. This is something you probably want to plan both pre and post launch. Additionally, finesse your biography, and contact information to work in the date of your release.

Maintenance is only half the battle though. Be active! Think about creating a content plan and teaser campaigns. It’s a great way to build hype around a release. Create a content plan, and release images from the studio, promo shots, video clips, tracklists, GIFs, and so on throughout your release cycle. Tag partners and the people involved on social media.


7. WORK ON YOUR MAILING LIST 

As anyone will tell you, owning your audience is extremely important. It’s not only beneficial to “own your audience” for planning comms around your release, but it’s just best practice, overall.

Firstly, put some effort into buffing up your list. You want to make it as easy as possible to sign up. Consider putting email captures on your website and social pages. You can even have a physical mailing list at shows for people to sign up.

Secondly, for your upcoming release, build out a flow of comms to send to your list that will keep them in the know about any important details. Email is a bit more invasive as a means of communications, so be cautious about the frequency that you mail your fanbase. You want to keep people engaged but you don’t want to be annoying either. There’s a balance to play.


8. PREP WITH DIGITAL SERVICES

Just like with your websites and your social pages, your streaming profiles should reflect and champion your upcoming new music as well. Two of the biggest you’ll need to prepare are your Spotify and Apple Music profiles. Make sure all your hero and profile images are updated to reflect your song art. Update your biog with release info and make sure you’re posting content on your Apple Music Connect profile about the news with teaser media.

If you’re looking for some tips to get the most out of your Spotify or Apple Music profile in preparation of your release, we’ve got you covered:

5 Tips for Making the Most of Your Spotify Artist Profile

7 Tips for Making the Most of Your Apple Music Connect Profile


9. CREATE SOME CUSTOM MERCH 


Who doesn’t love fresh clothes or accessories? Selling a little merch is a great way to generate some extra buzz around your release. Think hats, shirts, backpacks — whatever seems reasonable within your budget. Regardless of what you end up going with, just make sure it accentuates the aesthetic of your new release.

You not only need to contemplate inventory but, it’s also important for you to plan out how you’re going to sell everything. An easy solution is to use a platform like Music Glue. They’re a specialist e-commerce platform specifically for artists, where you can create a free website and store to sell merchandise, experiences, tickets, music and more direct to fans, in one simple transaction. If your budget is limited, their Print on Demand t-shirt feature is an easy way to stock your store for free with fulfilment also taken care of; just money in your pocket when you make a sell.


10. PLAN SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR RELEASE DAY 

Think of release day like your birthday. If you want it to be a success, you’ve got to do it big. There are tons of fun and creative ways for you to capture as much attention as possible around your release during the big day. From a release party, exclusive giveaways for fans, to extreme hash tagging, get everyone talking about your big day.

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