Recording an album is quite the adventure. You go through the process of deciding the time is right to record. You open up your writer’s toolbox and craft some great songs for release. Your team is assembled, you crowdfunded your venture, and you’ve finished up the most exciting part of the journey, recording in the studio. Now it’s time to bring all that hard work to fruition, and release your album to the world!
Today, I want to run through some essential tips for promoting your album release. This is a huge topic that could take up many pages in a book, but keeping these tips in mind will help ensure your album reaches as many people as possible. Let’s jump in!
1. Set up a pre-order
Setting up a pre-order is the first step in promoting your album. You can get some buzz generated early by having the album available ready for pre-order, and it allows you to accept orders as soon as you start promoting the release.
The pre-order phase allows you to target fans who missed out on the crowdfunding of your album, but still want to be the first in line to get a copy. For my own album, I had a surprising amount of pre-orders from fans in the first couple days after I launched it, and many of them were people who had contacted me once the crowdfunding was over that still wanted to be a part of the process.
As you start the media ball rolling for your release, having the pre-order available will also give you a call-to-action for whatever interviews or press releases you end up doing. If someone hears you on the radio, for example, they can go ahead and pre-order your album right then.
I highly recommend setting up the pre-order on your own website. This will get you direct access to statistics on how the pre-order is going, who is viewing and playing tracks from the pre-order, and the email addresses of people who do pre-order.
2. Release a single (and video)
Releasing a single and a video to go along with it is a great way to promote your new album (and the pre-order) leading up to your official release. Canvas people you trust for their opinions on the most suitable song to release, give it some serious thought on your own, and then get it out there on your website and all of your social media networks. It will be a great way to get fans excited about the album, and might grab you some new followers as well. Make sure to include a call-to-action with the video to pre-order the album on your site.
3. Get your album up on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, GooglePlay, etc.
It’s essential to get your album up on as many streaming and music store platforms as possible. The majority of your listeners are likely to find your music there, and you may be able to net some new fans if one of your tracks ends up on a popular playlist.
4. Use your mailing list
Email is the most effective way to generate sales of your album. Use your mailing list to send a dedicated email blast with a clear call-to-action to buy and stream your new album. Provide links in the campaign directly to the store on your website, and to the different platforms the album is on.
5. Promote your album on social media
This is so obvious it may not seem worth mentioning, but social media is going to make up a huge part of the promotional plan for your album. There are many platforms out there, and each one is going to need a strategy.
It can be overwhelming to even consider where to start here, but my main tip is to be yourself, and tell your own story. You are your greatest marketing asset, your brand, product, and image, all wrapped into one package. And don’t be discouraged if you don’t get results right away – it takes time and effort to penetrate all the noise on social media.
6. Create an EPK (electronic press kit)
Make sure to create an EPK on your website. Most press, bloggers, bookers, and podcasters require this when you submit to them. Even if they don’t require it, an EPK is a quick and easy way for someone to see all the important information about you in one place.
7. Promote your album to radio
For me, radio turned out to be the best promotional tool for my album. Through cold calling many, many producers (and by using a few contacts), I was able to get a few interviews and live performances on the radio.
First, when researching radio stations and programs, make sure they suit your music, and that you are familiar with the kind of content they tend to have on air. If you’re a country artist, make sure you’re not submitting your album to an alternative rock show. You’re just wasting your time (and the show’s too).
If possible, have a spin on your story and album that makes you stand out from the crowd. A lot of my success in getting on air was because I’m an opera singer turned country artist, and I mentioned that heavily when I was getting in touch with stations.
Finally, perseverance is a must. Only a small percentage of people are going to get back to you, so just keep at it, and you will have success.
8. Promote your album to bloggers
Blogs are still an essential way to promote your music to new audiences. There are a ton of genre-centric blogs out there where bloggers review and post independent music.
I found Hype Machine’s index of music sites to be an extremely valuable tool for finding blogs specific to my genre. Once you find some sites that suit your style and genre, make sure to read through them and find the right person to submit your music to.
Just like with your radio submissions, make sure you’re submitting to someone who writes about your genre of music, and who you think will be interesting in what you are offering. And make sure to include your EPK when you contact them!
9. Promote your album to other media
Aside from the more popular means of getting your album out there, a few other outlets do exist that can help promote your music. Consider local TV, newspapers, and podcasts who might like to interview you and feature some of your music.
Local television shows and papers are almost always looking for stories about the people who live in their region. I cold called the local station in my area and was booked for an interview within minutes. Make sure to play up how local you are – that matters a lot to regional outlets.
For podcasts, consider both music centric podcasts and podcasts about the area you live in. Many towns and cities have podcasters who dedicate their show to local events and artists.
10. Create some merch
Fans love merch! Consider crafting some items that will entice fans and also help promote your album. CDs, special edition vinyl, t-shirts, and stickers are just a few things you can consider creating.
Make sure you give yourself enough time to come up with a concept for the merch, order it, and ship it out before your album officially releases. Some distribution companies may take quite some time to process and ship your order, so be sure to plan ahead.
11. Organize an album release show
Organizing an album release show is an excellent way to get fans out and buying your album, and to generate more buzz around the album itself. It’s also a really cool opportunity to perform your entire album live.
I would recommend starting local with your release show. This ties into the promotion you’ve done with local media, and helps keep the momentum driving towards sales of your album. You can segment your mailing list to target fans in your area.
It’s obvious, but make sure to use social media to promote the show. Creating a Facebook event is a great first step in stoking awareness of the album release. Make sure to update the event frequently with posts to keep your invitees engaged. Posting photos of the band rehearsing, details about the venue, and information about giveaways at the release are all excellent ways to generate excitement about the event.
Speaking of giveaways, consider having a few to draw more people to the show. Door prizes like CD and merch giveaways are an awesome way to reward people for supporting your album release. I even printed stickers with my logo and left them on every chair. Fans were super excited to get them, and when I started seeing them on cars and instrument cases, I realized it gave me some additional marketing for the album as well!
Finally, consider making a short video promoting the show. My wife did a video of us rehearsing one night, and we put it together with some images and information about the venue and release. It actually led to a lot of engagement on social media, and helped get some additional people out to the show.
12. Book more album release shows
Once you’ve done your official album release show, you should consider booking shows in other towns and cities where you have fans. Start with smaller venues, and focus on markets that are close to you.
I reached out to venues within about a 3 hour radius of me to book additional shows on my album release “tour”. It keeps your costs low, and allows you to travel easily from location to location. Getting a mini tour like this going is a great way to keep momentum rolling after your album has released.