Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the release cycle?
It feels like there’s so much to do. Marketers keep telling us to tease our release well in advance of its launch date.
It all sounds good in theory, but in practice, it can be incredibly challenging and time-consuming to make the content, plan its distribution and schedule it out across various platforms. There are so many moving pieces.
And, it’s easy for this to become an overwrought process.
What we must do as musicians is separate the emotional from the practical and create some built-in accountability for ourselves. Commitment creates freedom, though most people tend to miss this in a world of endless options.
Here’s a solution to your promotion woes.
Issuing the Release – How the Process Works
Today, “issuing the release” kind of sounds old school, and yet those simple words do so much to build anticipation.
So, here’s a step by step process for issuing the release. I’ve broken it all down at a granular level.
Step #1 – Create a Simple Headline
Your headline should simply take the form of:
XYZ Records Issues ABC Artist’s DEF EP
Just so there’s no confusion, that translates to something along the lines of:
Arctic Sunburn Records Issues David Andrew Wiebe’s Nowhere Even Near EP
Now, if you haven’t started a record label and have no desire to, of course you could just say:
Atomik Penguins Issues Arctic Nuclear Warfare LP
This headline will be used in your publicly shared news piece.
By the way, news is awesome for getting views. People are perpetually hooked on news and always want to find out what’s happening in the world right now. So, positioning your content as news (which it is), is a powerful tactic.
Step #2 – Choose a Delivery Method
You’ve got your headline.
Before we go any further, though, we need to decide how the news is going to be shared.
Again, it’s entirely unnecessary to get paralyzed by analysis at this juncture. I recommend sharing your news in one of three ways:
The news release should go somewhere it can remain in public record (preferably your website), so I don’t recommend using social media to issue the release.
This comes with the caveat that your release can be – and should be – shared on social media and even with your email list. More on that later.
Pro tip: If you want to, you can create all three content types. If this is the direction you choose to go in, start with video. The audio from your video can be stripped to create a podcast episode. The podcast audio can then be transcribed to create a blog post. This will take some time and effort, but it can be done inexpensively. This is an advanced technique deserving of its own space, so I won’t be covering it in detail here.
Anyway, all you need to do at this stage is choose how you’re going to relay the news.
Step #3 – Create Your Content
Your content should take the same basic form regardless of what delivery method you’ve chosen.
There are five key things to cover in your content:
Who (record label, artist)
What (single, EP, LP – use this terminology, where an EP is a collection of about three to six songs, and an LP is a standard album)
When (when will it be released?)
Where (where will listeners and fans be able to find it?)
Why (what’s interesting about this release?)
And, by the way, your content should be written in the third person. Word count doesn’t matter that much, but you shouldn’t drone on endlessly either.
Who and What are basically covered in the headline, but they bear repeating in the first paragraph.
e.g. Atomik Penguins have officially issued the release of their latest LP, Arctic Nuclear Warfare. This is their third studio album, featuring their fluid, aggressive metal stylings inspired by some of their favorite bands, including Sonata Arctica and the Arctic Monkeys…
Pro tip: It’s worth mentioning artists or bands you’ve been influenced by and potentially sound like. This is great for search engine optimization (SEO) as well as press and media, who will instantly gain a better understanding of who you are and what you’re about just by reading the first paragraph of your release.
The next core element is When. You must announce when the release will become available to the public. Issuing the release is rendered pointless if you don’t get this right, since you’re trying to create some built-in accountability for yourself.
e.g. Arctic Nuclear Warfare is slated for release on August 21, 2020…
Pro tip: I would suggest releasing on a Friday to coincide with Global Release Day, when new singles, EPs and albums are released worldwide. And, if there’s anything else special about that day, such as the fact that it’s one of your band member’s birthday, mention that too.
Now we need to announce Where. Will your LP be available on all the majors, like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and so on? Will you also be putting it up on Bandcamp, Nimbit or Gumroad? Is it a special release that will only be available through your website? Make this 100% clear in your news release.
e.g. Fans will be able to listen to and purchase the release on all major online stores and streaming platforms, including iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, Pandora, YouTube, TikTok, Deezer, Shazam, TIDAL, Napster and more…
Pro tip: You can use a service like CD Baby, Ditto Music or DistroKid to easily get your music on all the biggies. I’m an affiliate of Ditto Music, and if you purchase anything on their site through my link, I may earn commissions at no additional cost to you.
Writing the first four Ws can be kind of a boring process, even though it’s the Rockstar way. Good news – Why is where we can have a little more fun.
e.g. Atomik Penguins, a power trio comprised of siblings Mike Atom (vocals and guitar), Jimmy Atom (bass, synth and vocals) and Tom Atom (drums and vocals) knew they wanted to fill a hole in their catalog with the launch of their latest LP, with music that leaves the listener feeling empowered. This lyric sums up Arctic Nuclear Warfare nicely – “Shout out from the south / The coldest place on earth / Airplanes don’t travel / We’ll conquer your turf.”
Pro tip: Cram all your keywords into this paragraph (you’re welcome to create up to three paragraphs describing Why). This includes the names of your band members, the instruments they play, the names of your songs, lyrical content, names of key people (producers, engineers, guest musicians, etc.), press quotes and so on. Of course, keep it readable. Write for humans, not for robots.
Again, it’s important that you keep this simple. Don’t over-complicate the process. Issuing the release should be one of the easiest things you do in building excitement for your release, assuming you’ve got the key details nailed down.
I know the five Ws can be kind of boring. You can add color to, and spice up your wording as inspiration strikes, but the primary function of the content is to make people aware of what’s to come, and to that extent, you don’t need to get fancy or lengthy at all.
Step #4 – Choose Your Channels
With your content written, it’s important to choose how you want to syndicate and distribute it.
But at the outset, I want to make it clear that the only place you’re obligated to publish it is on your own website.
Now, if you don’t already have a website set up, I suggest signing up with SiteGround and setting up your WordPress website. This should only take five to 10 minutes, even if you aren’t overly tech savvy. And, I can vouch for SiteGround’s customer service. It’s excellent.
But here are some additional channels you can take advantage of:
Social media: You can share your news release on all your favorite social networks – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, TikTok, Snapchat, Pinterest and others.
If you’ve made a video release, remember that you can natively upload your video to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and a variety of others for additional coverage.
You can also republish written content on sites like Medium and LinkedIn and even bookmark it using social bookmarking sites like Mix.
Once we start going down this track, there’s virtually no end to the number of channels we can utilize.
This is another advanced technique, so I won’t be covering it in any more depth here.
Email: I would recommend sending an email to your fan list letting them know about your forthcoming release.
Press release: Know it or not, the piece of content I helped you write effectively takes the form of a press release, so you could use it as such.
If you’ve got a bit of money, you could distribute your press release using a service like PRWeb (one of the best in the business). For music related news, Mi2N (Music Industry News Network) is not bad. There are plenty of other services out there in case you’re curious.
Note that some PR distribution services only want to publish unique content, so if you publish your news on your website, you may not want to use the same piece of content as a press release.
Pro tip: Again, keep it simple. There’s no need to put your release everywhere on the web. This is an advanced technique requiring quite a bit of time and effort. You could pay someone to do it for a relatively small amount of money though.
Step #5 – Publish the Release
The only thing left to do now is publish your release on your website.
Hitting that “Publish” button can be a tad nerve-wracking, but it’s also exhilarating.
Once that news release is out there, you can begin trickling out release related content on your website, social media and so on.
Don’t set the release date more than 90 days out. Even if it keeps you accountable, your fans will probably lose interest or forget about your forthcoming single, EP or LP.
You can have all your content created in advance of issuing the release (including your music). This minimizes the stress of creating something you’ve already issued and trying to meet a deadline. And, it will give you the opportunity to focus on dripping out relevant content on your website and social media (handwritten lyrics, audio clips, artwork ideas or anything else that teases the release).
Benefits of Issuing the Release
I’m sure you’re starting to connect the dots, but just in case, I’d like to wrap up this guide with three key benefits to issuing the release.
You Build Excitement for the Release
When you issue a release (and make it public), it automatically builds anticipation for what’s to come.
And, while the impact of taking such an action might be minimal when you don’t have much of a following, it can also help you build your following, especially as the story of the release unfolds on your website and social media.
Of course, you still need to follow up your news item with additional content. In the case of social media, it’s a good idea to post three times per day, even if it’s just a photo from the studio or a lyric from a song. And, don’t assume your fans are seeing all your posts, as this is rarely the case.
It Kickstarts Your Tease Campaign
If you get into the habit of issuing the release, you’ll never be required to think about what your first piece of campaign content should be or needs to be. You can begin your tease campaign by issuing the release, and this can set the tone for the rest of the campaign – even guide your vision, content creation and distribution efforts.
As Greg Wilnau of Musician Monster explained so eloquently, your brand is your overall mission, the impact you want to make in the world. A release should be considered a sub-brand.
Why is this important? Because your brand guides your every marketing move. Knowing this makes it much easier to identify where to put your time and effort and how to connect with your fans.