Unlimited Guides: Release Planning 101

TuneCore went Unlimited to give independent artists worldwide total creative freedom and limitless opportunities with every release. Your fans want unlimited new music, and we’re here to set you up for success as you navigate the distribution process– from start to finish– across the world’s most popular Digital Stores & Social Platforms. 

Social media giants like Facebook, & Instagram have transformed the music distribution landscape. Today, using the power of social media & DSPs, indie artists everywhere are honing their craft alongside listeners, releasing new music constantly, capitalizing on current social trends, & maximizing the reach of every new release. With Unlimited distribution, you are in complete control of your release strategy, and music career. 

Your strategy is the difference between a flop and a viral hit. With this comprehensive Release Planning Guide, you can rock the entire release process, and show the world how you are Unlimited as f*ck.

P R E – R E L E A S E

T H E  C R E A T I V E  P R O C E S S

  • Mix and master your songs with Instant Mastering & Custom Engineering.

  • Shoot and finalize all artist photos, marketing images, & release artwork.

  • Create a split percentage sheet for all collaborators involved in the production process; make sure you have the correct spellings for each contributor you want to credit.

  • Ensure that any audio samples used in your recordings are cleared and licensed. 

  • Type out all lyrics.

  • Write your artist bio & prepare your Electronic Press Kit (EPK).

  • Register your release with your PRO (ASCAP, BMI, etc) & SoundExchange.

  • Collect all photos & videos shot during your songwriting, recording, studio, & mixing processes for use on social media once the release is live.

  • Build out a timeline:

    • If you’re releasing a single, decide on a release date and plan your pre & post-promotion around that date.

    • If you’re releasing an EP or album, map out dates for the single(s) you plan to drop and the final project; plan your pre & post-promotion around those dates.

    • Regardless of the format, decide when you plan to announce your new music – there’s no right or wrong answer here, but it’s helpful to have your announcement mapped out.

  • Decide if you’ll be hiring a publicist or managing pitch pressing yourself.

    • If you’re hiring a PR expert, make sure to communicate what you hope to get out of the campaign, and ask them about their successful placements with other clients.

    • If you plan to manage this yourself, begin building out a media list with editors, journalists, and curators who cover your genre of music.

T H E  U P L O A D  P R O C E S S

  • Make sure all of your metadata is in the correct format. To get your music on Spotify & iTunes, all audio files must be 44.1 kHz, 16bit stereo WAV or FLAC file;  cover artwork must be a JPG or PNG file that is 3000×3000 pixels. 

  •  Upload your song to TuneCore here, choose the stores you want to distribute to, & schedule your release date. 

  • Opt-in for Facebook & YouTube Monetization.

  • Claim your artist profiles on Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Deezer, Pandora AMP for Artists, & request your YouTube Official Artist Channel

  • Upload your song to your Music Publishing entity (TuneCore, Songtrust, etc.)

  • Upload your release to Bandcamp. If you’re selling physical versions of the release, be sure to set up a pre-order.

4  W E E K S  O U T 

  • Confirm that your music has been successfully delivered to stores (you can double-check your TuneCore dashboard here).

  • Pitch your release to playlists on Spotify for Artists, & Amazon Music for Artists

  • Tease your social following (maybe with an announcement of new music!) and spend some time developing ways to increase your following across platforms.

  • Plan your release celebration!

    • If that means in-person, start contacting local venues about booking.

    • If that means virtual, begin prepping a live stream format.

  • If you’ve set up a pre-order on DSPs (and/or Bandcamp for physical CDs), begin your campaign to start racking up sales early.

  • Prepare all visual content including your official music video, lyric video, & any visualizers.

    • Make sure to include specific pre & post-release dates that you plan to share these assets in your timeline.

3  W E E K S  O U T  

  • Begin rolling out new visuals – photos, music video teasers, or Reels/Shorts with your music.

  • If you do not have a Music Publisher, be sure to sign up for TuneCore Publishing so you aren’t leaving any royalties on the table. If you’re interested in sync pitching, be sure to opt in today.

  • Create and release your social media pre-save link through Feature.FM, Toneden, Show.co, or Hypeddit.

2  W E E K S  O U T

  • Research & pitch your release to independent playlist curators & blogs, like SubmitHub.

  • Register your release with MRC Music Connect (formerly Nielsen SoundScan) on iOS or Google Play.

  • Submit music through Pandora AMP.


1  W E E K  O U T

  • Update your artist bio & featured photos across all DSPs.

  • Manage your pre-orders & instant gratification tracks. 

  • Launch your pre-save campaign on all social channels.

  • Continue to promote/tease song clips on your social media channels.

  • Release your cover artwork on all social channels.

  • Upload a Spotify Canvas visualizer for each track to your Spotify for Artists profile.

  • Distribute marketing materials to any of your featured artists & collaborators.

R E L E A S E  D A Y

  • Refresh all banners on your social channels with ‘Out Now’ graphics.

  • Add the release to your Spotify for Artist profile Artist Pick section.

  • Update your smart URLs with live links to DSPs.

  • Submit your lyrics to MusixMatch and Genius.

  • Host a release party listening event and broadcast it on Instagram, Twitch, and YouTube.

  • Release your official music video with a YouTube Premiere.

  • Repost & share any press coverage and playlist inclusion across all social channels.

    • Make sure to tag and promote any outlets, playlists, and writers/curators that publish or share your new release!

  • Create & encourage personalized playlists across DSPs featuring your new release.

  • Go live on your social channels to promote the release organically (via Instagram Live, YouTube, Clubhouse, Facebook Live, etc).

P O S T – R E L E A S E

W E E K  P O S T – R E L E A S E

  • Create fan contests, merch giveaways, & social trends to encourage sharing on social media

  • Continue reposting & sharing all fan and press coverage

  • Check all release data on Spotify for Artists, Apple for Artists, Facebook, and Google & YouTube analytics to review release performance.

W E E K S  P O S T – R E L E A S E

  • Host a live performance and post on Instagram Live, In-Studio, Moment House, etc.

  • Continue posting supporting visual content, including music videos and visualizers to all of your social channels. 

W E E K S  P O S T – R E L E A S E

  • Release an alternative version of the song (remix, acoustic, demo, B-side, etc).

W E E K S  P O S T – R E L E A S E

  • Create and release follow-up music videos for other tracks on your album or EP. 

  • Distribute any unreleased tracks (deluxe editions).

R O L L I N G  B A S I S

  • Answer all DMs across all social channels, and initiate 1:1 conversations with your fans.

  • Repost fans who are interacting with the release on your social channels.

  • Continue to build relationships with like-minded artists/creatives, local brands, and influencers.

  • Network, network, network – be active online or in-person with industry professionals (but be polite and have boundaries!). 

N O W  W H A T ?

This is just the beginning. From transferring your music catalog to TuneCore, to building your brand– stay up to date on the latest release strategy trends with our bi-weekly Survival Guides.