You’ve got the next Uptown Funk on your hard drive. It’s got a groove that could make dead bodies hit the dancefloor, and a chorus so catchy it has to be surgically removed. But unless you do the pre-launch prep, it’ll go off like a damp firework. Here’s how.
Buy a calendar
It’s vital to lock down a release date and schedule everything else around it. Decide when you want your music to be heard – is it a summer banger, for instance, that needs to drop in festival season? – and give yourself more lead time than you think you need to tick all the pre-release boxes. Twelve weeks is good. Six is the bare minimum. One of your earliest decisions should be distribution, with digital and physical specialists ranging from Ditto and LANDR to CDBaby and TuneCore.
Consider hiring a PR
A public relations agency will give your launch more oomph – for a price. The base-rate for a typical campaign is around £1000, but if it gets you to the ears of receptive journalists and broadcasters who cover your genre, the exposure could be priceless. Remember that you’ll need to make the initial approach at least three months before launch day – and that you’ll still pay, even if they don’t secure a single column inch.
Or if you can’t afford one…
Even without a PR machine behind you, there’s nothing to stop you shouting about your release. By all means, try the national media: you might get lucky. But you’re more likely to score with bloggers, local press and dedicated champions of new music like BBC Introducing. Take a close look at a given music outlet, working out if they cover your genre, which section you should pitch to and who’s the right contact. If they bite, have a professional press kit to hand, including photos, videos and a bio.
Self-publicise like a pro
Tweeting about your release is a no-brainer, and these days, it’s not enough to stand out amongst the static. Instead, dangle imaginative prizes in exchange for spreading the word, and curate fans around your social media universe with links on every video, snapshot and physical flyer. Blog about the process, post shareable photos, make people feel involved. This does not make you a self-observed narcissist. You are simply doing what it takes to survive in the modern game.
Tie the release to live events
A single, EP or album alone is unlikely to build up the momentum you need. But if people like what they hear – and discover you’re playing in their town – you might pull them to a gig and convert them into a fan for life. Arrange a run of shows pegged to the release – and have physical copies and MP3 download cards ready to sell from the merch table.