[Editors note: this article was written by Alper Tuzcu.]
2020 was a year when the music industry changed forever, and releasing music has too.
When the pandemic started in early 2020, things were still unclear and many album releases were postponed. By fall 2020, major and indie artists were releasing music again and they focused their promotional efforts on music videos, social media content, brand partnerships, and live streaming. As such, fan-artist relations and engagement have become key.
In the absence of touring and concerts, we’ve gotten a better sense of what releasing music looks like for the near future.
A new year comes with a clean slate and it is a new opportunity to try new things with your music releases. So, in this article we will go over 5 strategies to release your music in 2021:
1) Release a single
Albums and EPs take a long time to record, produce, and release. They are also costlier and they require major planning. Singles are faster to make, cheaper, and the release process is more flexible. A single can either be a preview of your upcoming album or it can be a one-off project. In the latter case, you might be experimenting with a new style. Or perhaps you’re collaborating with an artist to test the waters.
Whatever the case may be, releasing singles is easier, faster, and definitely less stressful than releasing bigger packages. If you haven’t yet, I’d encourage you to release a single in 2021 and see what happens!
2) Create music videos and live videos
When it comes to engagement, video is perhaps the most effective medium, because people love visual content! Moreover, the biggest video platform, YouTube, is a great search engine for finding music, so your music should definitely be up there.
There are three kinds of visual content you can create: music videos, lyric videos, and live videos:
Music videos are excellent for presenting a more visual side of your album, EP, or single. They are also an opportunity to unfold the narrative in your song lyrics from a more visual angle.
Another form of video that works really well are lyric videos. People love reading song lyrics with a video that’s not too busy. It helps them connect with the song on a deeper level. It is such a great way of presenting your music!
Live music videos are also great for presenting yourself as a performer. Moreover, live videos create great engagement on social media as short-form videos (more on that below).
You should definitely create at least one of these three types of video, and if your YouTube channel has a mix of different kinds of content, you will have much more engagement with your fans.
On a last note, make sure to add Canvas to your songs on Spotify. This is a great way to give first time listeners an impression of your visual identity.
3) Create social media friendly videos
15 second videos are wonderful for using in Instagram Stories and on TikTok.
If you already created some of the long-form videos mentioned above, that is great because you can use them to make short-form, 15-second videos.
Short form videos on Instagram Stories can be used for converting your followers into fans. Stories are a great way to start a conversation between you and your followers, so putting your videos on Instagram stories can be a fresh way of presenting yourself as an artist. Live videos are a great way to drive engagement on Instagram Stories, and also a great way to get people to be interested in your music and in you as an artist.
TikTok is a very popular platform in the 13-18 and 18-25 age groups, so if your audiences fall under these groups you should be looking into using some short-form videos on this platform as well. People on TikTok create videos that range anywhere from lip syncs and dance challenges to snippets of their everyday lives, which can be an interesting and effective way to present your music and to create engagement with your fans. TikTok is integrated with your digitally distributed music, so fans can add your music to their videos. Another new thing to try in 2021!
4) Think about playlist keywords and niches
An important part of the post release strategy is playlisting. Playlists are a great way to reach out to more listeners and to get more fans. However, not every playlist will be effective for you. Playlists are not just a way to increase revenue, but they are also a way to find your fans, who are interested in the type of music you make.
If you are making electronic music, there is probably no point in getting on a jazz playlist. Even if you somehow get your music on a jazz playlist, the listeners there might only play your music once or twice, but they won’t come back to listen to you and, consequently, it is unlikely that they will become fans.
Then, you should be looking into electronic music playlists: Look at their titles, descriptions, hashtags, and buzzwords. Make a list of these keywords and then search for them on Spotify and pitch your song to those playlists. Once you get into a few playlists on your relevant style, then you are likely to get some more followers and potential fans from playlists.
5) Get more Spotify followers and Distribute Early
The more followers you have on Spotify, the better, because people who follow you on Spotify get notified when you release new music. So, you should direct your social media following to follow you on Spotify to increase your follower count as much as possible.
Moreover, your music will be on their weekly ‘Release Radar’ playlists if you distribute at least 4 weeks before your release date. Also, keep in mind that because of the pandemic the processing times can be longer than expected, so to be on the safe side I highly suggest submitting your music 5-6 weeks before your release date!
These are five strategies to release new music in 2021. While there are many things still unclear in the music industry for the near future, there are effective strategies to make sure your releases will be as successful as they can be. 2021 is the year to try these strategies if you haven’t tried them yet!
On a last note, make sure to follow the news to be up to date with the latest developments in the music industry re: touring and post-COVID life. Happy 2021!