The music industry is a difficult industry to navigate for an artist of any status. Historically, artists have turned to record labels and managers for guidance. However, with the rise of the internet and global access to information, it’s gotten easier for artists to do the work of labels and managers on their own. Still, it’s not easy. We’re here to help.
Looking for management services? Read our previous article on when the right time for management is.
In this article, as promised, we’ll be discussing what to do as an independent artist when your social and streaming accounts are set up and you’re ready to release music. The first thought might be to, well, release music.
I’m sure you’ve seen countless videos of musicians frustrated at their label for not letting them put out content when they want. Outside of certain situations, there is a reason for this. A release needs a proper roll out, and for a major label backed project, this rollout could start a year prior to the release of the album.
So, if you’re signed to a major label, just finished recording, and marketing hasn’t started… unless you’re the number one artist in the country… you’re going to have to wait for your music to be released.
While being independent means you can, literally, drop your music whenever you want, it doesn’t mean you should. In this article, we’ll discuss how to plan out and schedule your music releases… without pulling your hair out.
Choosing the Right Distributor
There are a number of companies that allow independent artists to distribute their music to paid platforms, notably: DistroKid, Tunecore, and recently, SoundCloud. We recommend DistroKid for a number of reasons, other than their recent business relationship with Spotify. They have consistently been the first independent artist distribution company to allow artists to add credits, upload to Instagram, apply for cover licenses, and fix their track metadata on platform. In addition to this, they allow you to schedule your releases. While you don’t need to choose DistroKid (but if you do, use our discount code…) you do need a distributor that allows you to schedule your releases for future dates. Do your research.
You don’t want to set a release date, and then realize you can only upload for the current day, and since you can’t distribute to all platforms same day, at this time, end up with your new release on SoundCloud and a “coming to all platforms soon” message posted across your social medias…
Creating a Schedule
As an independent artist, you should be investing in each project you release, and have a pre-decided budget for distributing and marketing the project. As a result, your roll out schedule should be based around the budget. Have a larger budget? Create a longer roll out. Have a smaller budget? Spend it quickly with a shorter roll out. While a project’s schedule will change for each release and each artist, it’s important to create a schedule of how and when you will promote the release.
For an album roll out, a schedule is very important for a number of reasons. The first being that you don’t want to run out of music. As an independent artist, you’re able to record an album, and then immediately release it. But if you don’t keep recording at that rate, you’ll lose consistency, and as a result, lose fans.
That’s why it’s important to finish recording, and then schedule.
In the time between recording and release, you can keep recording music. This is where you get the opportunity to record and release singles, or EPs, before or after the album’s release, as a way to sustain and grow buzz. However, if you can’t record much in this period… your fans will still have your album to look forward to. Scheduling lets you keep everyone happy, and still give you free reign to record and release your content.
Setting a Release Date
Set a release date, and stick to it! There’s nothing worse than letting your fans down. Pushing back, leaking, or cancelling a release will only lose fans and money. Be strategic.
Distributing and Marketing the Release
Once you’ve finished recording, solidified your online presence, picked a distributor, decided your budget, and chose a release date…
It’s time to get marketing. In another in our How To Market Independent Artists series, we share the best tactics to marketing your music once you’ve set a release date.