You’ve finished your best album yet. You’re excited to get your CDs or vinyl back from the manufacturer. You book an album release party. You tell all your fans about the new recording and your upcoming concert. You pack the house, put on an unforgettable show, and sell a bunch of merchandise. Good for you.
But wait, is that it? What about trying to get press? What about preparing promo materials to support your new album? What about promoting your music beyond your existing fanbase? What about a… [get ready for some business lingo]… “promotional campaign?”
The #1 mistake musicians make when promoting their newest album or single is to wait until the music is available before trying to promote it.
The day your album goes live on iTunes or CD Baby is NOT the time to start thinking about music promotion. By then it’s too late, especially because in the eyes of the music media (who thrive on newness), a launched album is old news. Bloggers, critics, podcasters, journalists, TV and radio producers, program directors, DJs — they want the first taste, the early scoop. They want to break the news, not simply report it. They want to be setting the trends, not simply abreast of them. In order to do that, they need to know about your music well in advance of its release.
Early promotion isn’t just about getting advance reviews, press coverage, and radio play though; it’s about widening your fanbase — and oftentimes that begins with engaging your existing fans. You want to give them enough time to anticipate your release, hear a single or two from the album, and share the music with their friends. You want them to be galvanized so they’ll purchase your music as soon as it’s available (or even a pre-order through iTunes or Amazon), thus boosting your chance of ranking on sales charts. You want them to be excited not just about your CD release party, but about your videos, your interviews, your Instagram feed, your web content, and all the other ways you might interact with your fans.
That excitement amongst your fanbase will give additional energy to your promotional efforts, whether you’re doing something as intensive as a national PR campaign, or something as low-impact as a series of live-chats on Twitter. But in order for their excitement to become contagious, your fans need to be included in the process long before the album launches, not just the weeks or days leading up to the release party.
The lesson here is simple: get started on your music promotion long before your album comes out. Don’t rush to release your music. Just be patient. Think things through. Whether you want to do a couple regional tours, a series of music videos, some in-studio radio appearances, or secure a cover-story in your local weekly, get your promotional ducks in a row. THEN release your new songs to the world. Those extra months of planning will mean extra listeners once the music is available.
Have you ever rushed to release new music and then found it difficult to promote that music after-the-fact? What do you think a music promotion strategy should look like? Let us know in the comments below.