10 Steps To A Successful Independent Song Release
Updated: Oct 21, 2019
Over the past few years, I've released one album and several singles as Rosendale. Every time I write a song that I'm excited about, I'm antsy to release it and show my friends and fans my new creation. And every time, I bite my tongue and remember to be patient. Once a song has been finished, there are multiple tasks I know I need to complete to make sure the release is as successful as possible.
When you don't have a record label to handle marketing and promotion for you, you need to do a lot of the work yourself. These tasks have taken me anywhere between a month and three months to prepare prior to the song ever reaching music stores. Most of my successful song releases have been planned out at least two months in advance, if not more (including my first EP, which reached a million combined streams on Spotify).
The most important thing for you to do before releasing new music is to create a checklist of tasks with deadlines next to each task. Take a look below and see what steps you could add to your own release strategy. I've done some of the work for you - all you need to do is to add a deadline next to the task that fits your release.
10 Steps To A Successful Independent Song Release
1. Create a captivating cover art for your song. This could be a photo of you, a graphically designed work, or something you've drawn yourself. Regardless of what it is, the cover art needs to be eye-catching and ready to submit to distributors when you distribute your song to stores. Digital distributors won't accept song releases without cover art. If you're hiring someone, make sure they'll be able to complete the cover art before you plan to distribute.
2. Plan your lyric video and/or music video. Your fans and followers won't see every single one of your posts about your new music. It's important to post about your new song often and in creative ways so that you can reach all of them (without annoying anyone, of course).
A great way to hook listeners is through lyric videos and music videos that are engaging and animated. These videos don't need to cost you a fortune - if you have the right software (I use Final Cut Pro X) and equipment, you can film your own music video on a small budget like I did with this video. Remember to have these videos completed at least two weeks before you plan to release them, so you'll have enough time to make snippets and teasers to post on social media.
3. Submit your song for distribution at least one month before your release date. Submitting your song a month before release gives you plenty of time to work on other tasks to prepare for the release. More importantly, it gives music editorial teams (such as the playlist editors at Spotify and Apple Music) enough time to listen to your song and see if they want to place it in any of their big playlists. Make sure to submit your song to editors through Spotify for Artists. Having a song placed on a big playlist could help your music break through to new audiences you can't reach on your own.
4. Submit the song for promotional support. All three options below are wonderful ways to promote your new song.
YouTube promoters. YouTube promoter channels like Proximity and MrSuicideSheep have helped indie releases soar in streams, views, and recognition. It takes only a few minutes to write and send an e-mail asking a promoter to help support your music by uploading it to their channel. Some channels receive tons of submissions, so make sure to submit the song to them at least a month in advance of your release date. If they like it, they'll schedule an upload for you. Side note - I'll be writing a post on my favorite promoters in a future post, so join my mailing list here to get an e-mail notification.
Blogs. Websites like Submithub and Hype Machine might help you find relevant blogs that fit your genre. Same as above - it takes only a few minutes to reach out to bloggers who will write about your song (hopefully, they'll also write positively about it). Having other sites write about your music increases the discoverability of your new release on search engines and pushes your own posts about the song upwards on web searches. Again, make sure to submit the song at least a month in advance of the release date, if not more.
Spotify curators. Spotify curators who own playlists with large followings can help your new release reach tons of new listeners during release week. As soon as your song is available on Spotify, make sure to pitch the song to relevant Spotify playlists owned by users (not the editorial team, as mentioned above). Two great places to start finding playlists are Indiemono and Daily Playlists.
5. Plan your social media teasers. There are several ways for you to let your fans know that new music is coming. Why not tease them with a snippet of the song with the cover art? If you have a large following on Instagram, create a 9-tile post of the cover art and spread the posts over the course of two weeks prior to release to build excitement for your new song. Whatever your strategy is, make sure your teasers and posts are ready to be posted at least a week before you plan to post them - it never hurts to be prepared in case you need to make adjustments.
6. Plan your official release day announcement. Don't forget to write what you plan to say about your new song before you release it. "Just dropped a new song - check it out!" won't catch anyone's attention. Your friends and fans are looking for a meaningful message about your release and what it means to you. Tell them a story about what inspired the song, why you wrote it, and give a call to action (such as listening to the song, saving it to their personal playlists, or sharing the song on their socials). Keep it short but effective. If you own an e-mail list, make sure to schedule a similar announcement through e-mail.
7. Upload your song everywhere. Your digital distributor will distribute your new song to all of the major music and streaming platforms, but it won't cover major social media platforms. Make sure to upload your song to Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. Update your website and social media banners to reflect the new release. Websites like Shazam and Patreon can also be great places to spread the word if you have a large following there.
8. Create a shortlink for your release. Websites like ToneDen are fantastic for creating one link to consolidate all of the links where your music will be available (such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and more). Make sure to update the shortlink as soon as your music is available on a new platform.
9. Ask friends for support. Make sure to reach out to your friends, family, and support system to help promote your release. Ask them to help share your song or write a review of your song on iTunes. Or try asking them to purchase the song so you can reach a threshold of pre-orders and get noticed by editorial teams.
10. Start your advertising campaigns and paid promotions. Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, and boutique music promotion companies are great ways to market your music if you have a budget to spend. In my opinion, spending a little money to promote your music (on the right platforms and campaigns) is always better than spending no money at all. Make sure to identify and target audiences that have potential to enjoy your music. Research some shared interests that these audiences may have to narrow down your audience for each campaign.
It doesn't end on release day. Here are a few more tips for you to keep up the promotional momentum on your new song.
1. Post in Facebook groups where people may enjoy your music. Don't spam though - you'll be flagged and temporarily banned from posting. A three-day ban from Facebook feels longer than it actually is if you're active on social media.
3. Debug all of your music links on Debugger to make sure your cover art thumbnails show up properly on Facebook.
4. Create a Google Alert for keywords related to your new song so you can see where and what people are saying about your music.
5. Upload your song to music libraries and pitch your song to music supervisors for potential placement in TV shows and film.
6. Upload the song to your PRO (performance rights organization) to collect performance royalties.
Hope you guys enjoyed these tips! If you have any of your own tips to add, please leave them in the comments below.
Listen to my own music:
Buy the Fairytale EP including "Fairytale" and "Landslide" here! http://apple.co/2pyKpvr
Listen to my song "Tell Me How To Let Go" here! https://fanlink.to/TMHTLG
Listen to my song "Divine" here! https://onerpm.lnk.to/Divine
Sign up for my mailing list for updates! http://bit.ly/2E5wyEP
Support me on Patreon for a sneak peek of my new music! http://www.patreon.com/rosendalesings
Stay in touch with me!
Bookings and inquiries: email@example.com