After hours of painstaking work, your album is finally complete. All the sweat and tears were worth it when you gaze upon its completed beauty. But is the world ready? Is now the right time to start releasing an album?
You need to figure out many things before making your completed album available to the public. So what are some essential things you need to know before releasing an album?
After creating your fantastic music, you need a marketing plan, a budget, and legal plans addressed. You also need the money necessary to execute these. It’s essential to have these issues addressed if you want a successful album launch.
Artists thrive the most when releasing their albums by having a great plan. Read on to learn everything you need to know before releasing your album.
Step One: Legal Things You Need To Know Before An Album Release
Why You Need To Trademark Your Name (and How To Do It)
You do not want to go to a city and know that someone else or another band has taken your name. This situation can seriously affect you in the future after you release your first album.
Before releasing your album, you’ll want to make sure nobody else has your name. You also want to trademark your name to avoid any future conflicts with other artists or bands. It also assists you in future stolen music claims.
Trademarking can be challenging to do initially, so hire a music expert or music attorney to help you with the process. You can trademark several things:
- Brand images
- Test-based logo
- Identifying font
You can trademark through available public companies like LegalZoom if the process feels overwhelming. Start by searching for your name through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to determine if your band’s name is available.
Make Sure All of Your Songs Are Copyrighted
Even if your songs are all written by you or your band members, there is no assurance that U.S courts will protect you from copyright cases in which you cannot prove whether or not you wrote the songs.
To do this, you need to first copyright and register all of your songs legally to have protection in court whenever legal conflicts arise. Speak to a music attorney to help you in your journey of publishing your first album.
The USPTO has an Assignments Recordation Brand (ARB) who you can contact for some initial steps. The process is similar between the two.
Keep in mind that copywriting lyrics and recordings are two different animals. Recall Taylor Swift‘s battle with her old recording studio, Big Machine Label, in an attempt to regain control over her old music.
Because they refused to give those recording up, Taylor had no choice but to make new recordings. Big Machine Label owns the original masters, not the new recordings.
Here’s a video that might help you out:
What if I Have Song Covers in my Album?
Artists perform their renditions of other artists’ works all the time. However, to profit off the songs of others’ on your album, you will need to ensure you are going through all the proper legal channels.
To cover songs, you’ll need a compulsory license that will require a statutory rate based on government requirements. The US copyright office bases this decision on Title 17 of the United States Code.
Page 273 of said code goes over musical distribution rights. Unfortunately, because it all reads like legal Jargon, it’s typically difficult for most people to understand.
You need to know that you need to address all owners (musicians and recording companies) before you have the rights to cover the music.
Step Two: Have a Budget
Having an album released is no cheap achievement. It requires a lot of dedication and funding, which you need to have ready during the pre-release of your album.
Here’s about what you should expect to pay for your first album:
|Studio Recording||Anywhere from $500 to $2000|
|Mastering||Around $1200 (on average)|
|Marketing||$800 to $5000+|
These costs might vary depending on how far your marketing goes (i.e., digital promotion, social advertisement). In addition, these don’t include optional fees like release parties, paying your agents, and buying new equipment.
You need to make sure you have a budget plan that covers all of that and then some. Always overestimate the amount you plan on paying. If you are already working with a record label, they can help with the cost (typically through a loan).
If you are self-publishing an album, you need to carefully plan everything before deciding that you want to do it. Make a plan and annotate the cost of each activity that you are planning to make possible.
Step Three: Know The Best Time To Release Your Album
There is a research phase that you have to realize before you publish your songs with every release. Knowing when is the best time to release your album is good to know beforehand to promote your album effectively.
Here’s a breakdown of tips for seasonal music releases:
|Months||Good Music To Release|
|November through January||Holiday music (i.e., Trans Siberian Orchestra)|
|February||A good time for indie material given slow releases from significant labels|
|March||Good if you are performing at South by Southwest (SXSW)|
|April||Good time to release music and announce summer tours|
|May, June, July, and August||A fabulous time to release new content because it’s festival season|
|September and October||Avoid Labor Day, but otherwise, it’s a pretty good time.|
You can also remember themes for the month if you like to make holiday-centric music. For example, February tends to be a good time for romantic music, October is excellent if you want to add to your “spook” lineup, and December is for holiday music.
Your best time might be different depending on how you want to promote your music (tour, festivals, digital, etc.).
What’s The Best Distribution Type for an Album Release?
During the pre-release of your music, you want to know your preferred distribution methods. Music streaming services such as Itunes and Spotify are dominating the market. So most artists prefer to publish their albums on the internet.
Getting your music on platforms such as iTunes and Spotify can help you achieve the exposure you wish to have, with millions of users using these applications daily to listen to music.
There are a couple of things that you want to make sure you know before choosing which type of distributor you want to work with during the release of your album:
- You want to research and see how long it takes for these distributors to release your album to the public.
- Check whether the distributors will have your music in their stores on your intended schedule.
- Make sure that it aligns with the dates you have a plan for the release of your music.
- If you release your album via a streaming service, ensure your legal team has ironed out a fair royalty agreement. Many already have pre-established contracts you need to follow.
How To Pick A Distributor (With Examples)
- Know what platforms the distributor handles on your behalf.
- Call multiple distributors to compare their fees.
- Know that some distributors have different specializations (i.e., some are better at releasing a lot of music shortly while others are good for one or two releases a year).
- Check the company’s reputation on Trustpilot and the BBB.
- Ask your record label or music manager if they have preferred distributors.
Below are some of the more popular options:
|Distributor||What Makes Them Awesome|
|CDBaby||Excellent for one or two releases a year. Provides many digital opportunities|
|TuneCore||They have a transparent pricing structure with no royalty splitting. However, they have a yearly $50 album renewal fee.|
|DistroKid||Great for making your music available. Less great for promoting your music digitally.|
How To Get Your Music on Spotify
To get your music on Spotify, you’ll need to work with one of those distributors. Unfortunately, Spotify doesn’t allow artists to manage their content directly. Signed artists might already have their music on the platform.
Check out Spotify’s preferred list of distributors for details.
How To Get Your Music on Apple’s iTunes Store (or Apple Music)
Much like Spotify, Apple prefers you go through third-party distribution companies called aggregators. CDBaby and TuneCore are two prominent examples. However, here’s their approved list.
Otherwise, you’ll need to work with your music label to discuss the terms of this release.
How To Make Your Songs Available for Digital Playlists
Playlists are popular resources where listeners discover new music nowadays, with most of them dominating in leading music streaming services such as Spotify. Public playlists provide great exposure, but you’ll need to speak with playlist curators first.
Here are some tips:
- Familiarize yourself with your preferred platform’s playlist system.
- Try and submit your music one week in advance.
- Talk to your label if that is who you are working through
Spotify can also feature you through its new release program for artists. The Spotify New Release Program allows artists to promote on Spotify’s editorial playlists, which will show up to multiple users.
Remember To Update Your Artist Profile on Streaming Platforms
Update your streaming platform profile to indicate the new album. This update is similar to the rebranding of a new product or a new phase of a company. You also want to update your profile and match it to your album’s theme.
Also, update your music pages with your new album art style
Your artist profile is essential to let your listeners know what is going on with you and allows them to find out more about you. The updates can increase hype for your upcoming album. You want your listeners to find your music quickly, and optimizing your profile can help you achieve that.
Thanks to the digital age and music streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and Amazon Music, artists can easily customize their profiles. However, most of these streaming services need you to distribute your music to them before updating your profile.
Step Four: Build Hype and Awareness
Remind your listeners of your new album as much as you can. Build hype towards the project, and start giving snippets of your album to your fans. Some of these teasing methods can include:
- Releasing the first few seconds of a new song
- Showcasing the cover art
- Releasing a teaser trailer for a music video
It is advisable to do this at least two weeks before the release of your album. You do not want to do it too early since it would negatively affect your fan’s enthusiasm. Going too early kills the effort in your marketing campaign.
You can also start posting promotional content on your social media sites that you will most likely use during the release day of your album. Again, you do not want to reveal too much, just enough to keep them engaged with your new album.
Decide on a Single to Release
Look for a single that you want to release to the public before your album hits the music store. Make sure to wisely choose which piece of your album this will be, and discuss it with collaborators, band members, or producers before taking this decision.
Before releasing this single to the stores, you want to promote it as much as you can.
- Hit the email boxes of your fans, family, and friends to let them know that there will be a new song release in the next few months.
- Promote the single on all social pages.
- Release single art in the same style as the upcoming album art.
Make sure you use different to let your fans know of your news release. For example, you can include the release date of your album alongside the single release date. The single let fans get a taste of your music, letting the hype train keep rolling.
Create an Electronic Press Kit (EPK)
An EPK is an essential tool for artists and for brands that wish to expose more info about their work online. It features the following items:
- Artist biographies
- Band bios
- Band photos
- Tour dates (if applicable)
- Prominent achievements
- Social media links
- Contact details
Here’s a video with some additional tips:
EPKs help you and people who want to share your music.
- EPKs gives journalists and writers more contact information about you and the music you produce.
- It is a way to give people more information about your band in general.
- It allows writers and journalists to get the materials they need without having to contact you.
You can be asking a blogger or a magazine to cover your new album or new single. Whenever you ask a magazine or a writer to interview you or write about your music, you want to save time for the other people asking you the same questions.
The EPK includes information about you. If they need photos, you have to make sure you have them ready in your EPK. That way, the writers will have the necessary material to publish the article or continue with the promotion.
Creating a Press Release
One way to motivate your fans and keep the momentum of the hype is to offer a press release. Press releases include interviews, news stories, and personal website announcements to promote your new album.
Press releases can help your audience connect to your new albums and know about the ideas and processes you or your band took into account while producing the new album.
Interviews are an excellent way for your audience to connect with you. It creates a feeling that they are having a conversation with you.
We have an entire section devoted to interviews if you’d like help promoting your band. Also, contact us if you’d like to set up an interview for your crew.
Otherwise, you can choose some alternative options:
- Local radio
- Youtube influencers
- Fellow musicians
- Local bars that feature live music
Contact them and ask them if they will be interested in working with you to get your name and upcoming album. Some bands even establish their podcast to cut out the middleman.
Host a Concert Or Release Party
Part of exciting your listeners is celebrating the release of your album. Once your album is released, you can celebrate in a variety of ways:
- Throw a release party
- Book an album tour
- Host an album release concert
If you do this, be sure that everything in the event is working perfectly. A good tour starts with having a good tour manager, so check out our article on that topic for more details.
Use Band Merchandise for Promotion
Merchandise is another excellent way for you to promote an album. Again, if you have a record label, they will handle a good chunk of this for you. Otherwise, you can rely on some of these band merch sources:
Look for print-on-demand services on Google if you don’t like any of these options.
Create a Music Video for Band Promotion
During this process, you can also celebrate by attending music events and shooting a music video. For more tips on how to create a music video, we have an article for that.
If you are on a budget, you can find videographers to help you with creating the video. Their inexperience makes for a rougher video, but having a clear concept will help you along this process.
Tips for Create Awareness for Your Album
You do not want to release your album without knowing how to inform others that it is available. You need to be selling yourself and your album to be able to promote your music. There are a variety of methods you can use to promote your music effectively:
- Mailing list
- Band website
- Paid promotions
- Social media accounts
- Digital marketing agency
How To Create a Mailing List to Promote Your Album
Compile a list of people, and send the release date of your album via email. Then, use your other platforms (social media, website, streaming artist bios, etc.) to promote your email list.
Email press releases are essential to let the people who follow you know that more music is coming their way. You can also excite them and encourage them to join your email list with exclusive music releases and announcements.
You can start by providing modified versions of your press releases for email. Otherwise, treat emails like a direct conversation between you and your fans.
A variety of copywriters and agencies can handle all of the press releases and email marketing for you if you don’t feel like it. If choosing this method, be sure to include it in your budget.
How To Create a Band Website for Album and Band Promotion
If you do not yet have a band website, you cannot overlook this when it comes to the marketing of your music. Having a website allows your fans to have a page to refer to whenever they want to know the most recent news about your music.
Whenever you create a website, it needs to represent you. So this place is where everyone will go to know about content releases and news about your music.
You can use your band page for press releases, exclusive content, tour updates, and a personal blog. Below are some suggestions on where you can create a band website:
Here’s a video going into further detail on music websites:
Paid Promotions Techniques
You can use digital marketing tactics to produce more traffic to your web or expose your album even further.
You have to be especially careful going this route because it can end up costing you a lot of money. But, on the other hand, this type of marketing can benefit you a lot. It helps you reach thousands of people within your respective demography.
Below are a few of the best ways to target potential fans.
- Google AdWords
- Facebook Advertising
- Twitter Ads
Be sure that you set a per-day bid and a campaign length to match your advertising budget. Without limits, it is easy for this advertisement strategy to get out of hand.
If you are wondering what keywords to use, utilize competitive keyword resources like SpyFu to determine what other band pages use. Typically, these will delve into regional or genre-based keyword targets.
How to Manage Social Media Accounts to Promote Your Album
Social media is a powerful tool that can help you raise awareness of your upcoming album. In these pages, it is essential to be as active as possible to let the algorithm of the applications work for you.
Social media accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook let you choose a variety of marketing strategies that can help you boost the reach of your account.
For instance, Instagram allows users to promote their posts by using paid options. Be sure to include this as an option with your marketing budget.
If you promote posts, you need to have one of two goals:
- Increased album sales
- Increased page followers
If you want to increase followers, provide them an offering that gets them to stick around. Those offers can include free stickers, unique content, and a link to your music to be sure they like it.
If you want to increase album sales, point directly to your page where they can order the album. Again, it would be best if you had this page show a sample of your music to ensure they enjoy it.
Hire a Digital Marketing Agency
If you have no idea how to start your digital marketing campaign, there are many options to choose to let someone else do the work for you. There are a variety of digital marketing agencies that can do this work for you.
There are also publicity websites made to help artists achieve their online presence. Websites such as AGR Publicity can help you solidify your marketing strategy, giving you the resources you need to spread your album.
Hiring a digital marketing agency or seeking professional help can save you a lot of time and resources. With their help, you can achieve a lot and much more in your digital marketing campaign.
Other Important Tips To Help Your Album Release
Respond and Follow Up with Your Contacts
Once you publish your album, you want to follow up with all of the contacts to whom you sent your EPK.
- Get in touch with the magazines
- Follow up with writers
- Respond to hosts
This strategy provides you with media contacts and can give you a possible feature in one of their stories. For example, ask them if they have listened to your new album and see if they like it. More exposure through articles or interviews, and you might receive more exposure and fans along the way.
Choose Great Album Cover Art
Your album needs an image that represents your album’s story. Cover art is a vital part of creating your album since this will be the image that everyone will recognize. Make sure that the art is ready early enough before the release of the album.
- You might have an album cover photoshoot.
- A graphic designer will edit the chosen photos (or create a unique art piece)
- With both photographers and graphic designers, it is essential to check portfolios beforehand so you know you are working with artists who can capture your vision for your album.
There are multiple types of album art that you can utilize during the pre-release and different methods to achieve them.
If you intend to use yourself or your band for the image of your album, then this might be the method you want to use to make it possible. First, create an appointment with a professional photographer who can help you with the image of your album. Then, plan out the concept you want for the cover image, and explain it to the professional before starting.
You might have to go through multiple shots. A good photographer understands this and will take numerous photographs with numerous perspectives. If they don’t, you might start to question their quality.
You can work with freelancers (typically cheaper) or with a professional photography studio (typically more consistent results, but more expensive).
If you want a graphic design or illustrations, you should hire a visual artist to do the job. For these artists, you want to make sure you know how long they take to create a piece, their rate, and the mediums they use to create art.
Freelancers are typically more cost-friendly, while agencies are usually more consistent.
Check Portfolio Pieces
For both types of artists, always check their portfolios before deciding on whom you want to hire.
If you want to hire a digital artist with illustrations that fit the theme of your album cover, then make sure to look for someone that fits those characteristics. Otherwise, if you want to hire an artist that uses traditional media, you want to be sure of what you want.
Keep searching until you find something that fits your project closely. It’s your image; you have the right to be picky about it. Just don’t get too fussy and delay the album release because of it.
Publishing your first album can be an arduous task, especially for those who have never done it before. It is not an impossible challenge, but artists need to develop a plan that will work for them.
Having a planned budget and to-do list during the pre-release of your article can make the release of your album possible. Completing that list will combine satisfaction and a clear plan of action.
Be sure to be organized, and expose yourself as much as you can during the marketing phase of your new album. You can boost your career just by following all of the steps mentioned above. It is necessary to remain focused and diligent to be competitive in the music industry.