In today’s music business, there are thousands of songs released every week. As time passes, it seems like it gets harder and harder to get people to pay attention. How do artists keep their fans attention with so much competition around? Sadly, many don’t. According to Anita Elberse in Blockbusters: Hitmaking, Risk-taking and the Big Business of Entertainment, 97.1% of all albums available in 2011 sold fewer than 1,000 units. That means that a vast majority of artists don’t know how to effectively market their music. The key to a financially successful release is a well thought out marketing plan. Here are five key elements that you should consider as part of your pre-release marketing plan.
Distribution is the one of the first things you need to consider. How is your music going to get to your potential fans? Where will they find it? Will it be free, or will they have to pay for it? If it is free, how will they access it? Will it only live on your website?
These questions are important to answer because they are informed by the goals you have set. If you are looking for more awareness or attention, it is likely you will choose a distribution platform that is easier for potential fans to participate in. If your goal is more money, you may choose a more proprietary or direct-to-fan platform for distribution. Your distribution will also determine what calls to action are made when it is time to announce your project.
Press (Long Lead)
If you want to get the word out about your release, you will have to get press coverage. Long lead press is that press which takes a long time to obtain. Usually, Long lead press would include national outlets like Rolling Stone, Billboard and other large scale magazines. You’ll want to send your music to these outlets about 12 weeks (3 months) before your scheduled release date. With long lead press, it’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket. You should plan to submit to multiple outlets, because chances are you’ll be turned down by one or more of them. You’ll need to plan out exactly which outlets you will submit to, and what content you’ll offer to each one.
Press (Short Lead)
Short lead press includes small outlets such as local newspapers, as well as most music blogs. In most cases, you can secure coverage with a lead-time of just 2-3 weeks. For smaller blogs, that lead time could be as little as one week. While these outlets don’t have the massive reach as some of their national counterparts, most small outlets tend to have a loyal, engaged readership. If your content aligns well with their tastes, it could help create a large groundswell for your music. Your marketing plan should include a push to as many small outlets as possible.
Pre-Release Singles and Videos
Now it’s time for the fun part. You get to decide what the musical introduction to your next project will be. No pressure, but the singles you choose to release before your project is available can make or break it. Traditionally speaking, you want your first single to be appealing to a broad spectrum of potential listeners. Additionally, you want the first single to give fans a good idea of what to expect from the rest of the project. The strategy should be the same with your videos. For your marketing plan, you need to decide how much content your fans will get before the project is released; and more specifically, which content you believe will offer the best chance for success moving forward.
While the press will handle announcing your album to the general public, you should consider the way you announce the album to your current fans. The people who are already engaged with your social media or e-mail list will appreciate you taking the time to address them specifically. You can choose to film a short video, or draft a nice e-mail to send to your fans. You may prefer to post a picture of a hand-written note to your Instagram. Or maybe you’ll pull a Frank Ocean and put a cryptic video on your website, leaving fans to speculate about what it means. Your fans will always be the most powerful promotional tool in your arsenal. If you get the announcement right, it will go a long way to creating a word of mouth buzz around your new album.
Learning how to market your music is more important now than ever before. In the streaming era, it’s not enough to just have good music. Fans need a reason to listen to your music above one of the thousands of other options they’re faced with on a daily basis. If you include each of these items in your marketing plan, you’ll give your music a much better chance to get the attention it deserves. If you want a better understanding of what it takes to market your music at every stage, be on the lookout for The Music Marketing Guidebook. It’s not only a book, but a program that will help take your music marketing to the next level. Sign up below to be the first to know when it’s released.