[Editors Note: This article was written by Janelle Rogers.]
You’re really proud of the record you’ve just made, and you think people would like it if they heard it. In fact, you may think you’re doing the best work of your life. You’ve put nearly a year, if not years of hard work and cash into your album, so it would be amazing if someone actually heard it.
It’s clear you absolutely want to get your music heard, but are you falling into common musician pitfalls that keep you limited to an audience of one or a couple dozen at most?
Below are the five common mistakes artists can make when it comes to releasing a new EP or album, and how you can avoid them:
1. Ignore Your Fanbase
This is one of the most common mistakes we see while bands are in the studio. They let the social media slide completely.
Most often it’s because they find it impossible to pay attention to both recording and managing their social media simultaneously. The problem with that is that your fanbase will also forget about you while you’re hunkered down in the studio recording your next masterpiece. This is in fact a great opportunity to start teasing your fans with the new music you’re working on as you’re working on it.
Ideally you’re still posting daily, but even if it’s just once per week, you should be posting about the songs you’re writing or recording, what’s happening in the studio and what excites you about the new record. This of course doesn’t get around the challenge of trying to balance studio time with social media time. I recommend planning in advance a schedule of what you could post so that you know what you need to post when (that’s half the battle with social media!). If you’re in a band, divide the responsibility between band members. One member always posts on Mondays, another on Tuesdays for instance. Of if one is better with a specific type of content, focus on posting based on content ideas. Either way, you’ve built up a fan base who’s ready for your music once it hits.
2. Bad Timing
Let me guess: you have no real timeline for your album release campaign.
“Campaign?” What’s that?” you say?
You were just going to release it once you received your masters back – essentially winging it and having a lot happening at once without any real strategy to manage it all. Sound familiar?
First off, you need lead time before releasing your music so you have time to build awareness with both fans and media if you’re trying to secure press coverage on your record. Four to six weeks is recommended for a single and three months for an album or EP. Media who isn’t already aware of you will most often need a minimum of seven impressions to even pay attention. And you most certainly don’t want to rapid fire contact within a short period of time. Fans most likely won’t see the first social media post announcing the record.
And lastly, there are simply better times throughout the year to release singles or albums based on a multitude of factors. You can find a monthly guide to release your single, EP or album in 2019 here.
3. No Post-Promotion Plan
Your record is finished so your job is done. Now you just need to sit back and wait for people to discover your band and the masterpiece you created.
I wish it were that easy.
There’s not a credible record label on earth who releases a single or album without creating a strong post-recording promotion plan in advance. They know that new fans won’t listen to music they’ve never heard without making sure there’s a strong music promotion strategy to connect with new fans. This will be done through publicity efforts to secure blog coverage, radio airplay and sessions, Spotify playlists, touring and other avenues that will help spread the word about the band.
4. No Budget
I get it if you’re in a band who is self-financing, budgets are going to be a challenge. But if you really believe in your music as much as you say you do, you need to make an investment.
This can be done by budgeting your time to take care of all the facets of promotion that need to happen if you really can’t find a way to raise the money. Ideally, though, you’re able to focus on what you do best – make music while hiring the experts who can more effectively and efficiently promote your music with faster results than you’d receive on your own.
This most often means hiring people who can pitch you to music blogs and Spotify curators. If you’re social media engagement if flatlining, it could mean working with social media companies who can effectively increase your engagement. The cost range is pretty wide for these services, but as a general rule you’ll want to budget a minimum of $2,500 to promote an album or EP and $1,000 for a single if you plan on hiring a team to promote these releases.
Of course, there’s the DIY route (ed. note: plenty of advice on that throughout this blog!). You can do it for less, but also expect the results to reflect that. You can also do it for more, but make sure the package you choose makes sense for a band at your level.
5. All or Nothing Expectations
By now, you may be convinced you need to put a music promotion strategy together for your album release. You know you want coverage in BrooklyVegan, Stereogum, NPR Music and Gorilla vs Bear. Anything less than that will feel like a giant disappointment. Although there are times blogs like those will utterly and hopelessly fall in love with an unknown band on first listen, it’s also unlikely more often than not.
Just like you have to take steps throughout a professional career before becoming company president, you need to do the same with your band. That first time out, maybe you only receive press in small to mid-sized blogs while the Pitchfork’s of the world completely ignore you. That is not a failure. That is a first step. You need to take that first step to get to the next one and the next one.
There are also surprises that come out of promotion that you may not have first expected. For instance, we once had a band covered by a small blog who on the surface seemed insignificant. The owner of that blog also booked a major Brooklyn festival and was able to get the band on that bill. It wasn’t so insignificant after all.
The name of the game is careful planning and execution. If you really want your record heard, don’t ignore all the steps it takes to get there.
Janelle Rogers is the founder of Green Light Go Publicity, a music PR firm which helps up-and-coming musicians reach their audience.