The Beginners Guide To Promoting An Album - Part Two: Timeline
In the first part of our Beginners Guide To Promoting An Album we talked about three key tools that will be the foundation for building your promotions: your website, social media, and distribution. Making sure these three aspects are up and running (or at least being worked on) are very important, so don't overlook them.
Today we are going to focus on a timeline that will guide you throughout the process leading up to the release of your album. Again, if your album has already been "released" don't worry. Release dates aren't nearly as important as they used to be. It's good to have a fixed day that you can aim to have everything done, but honestly, your promotions continuing on past the release date are just as important as those leading up to it.
When you are feeling good about the recording process, think ahead and come up with an official release date. Give yourself at least two months prior to the release to properly set up the release of your album.
WHILE THE ALBUM IS BEING RECORDED
The recording process is chock-full of social media and online marketing opportunities. Be sure to capture as much video and pictures as you can. Blog throughout the process and keep your fans in the loop, ask them questions, run ideas by them, etc. Keeping them involved will make them all the more vested in what you are doing and want to see the end result.
BEFORE THE ALBUM IS RELEASED
THINK THROUGH YOUR BRANDING
Creating a consistent and cohesive look, feel, and vibe is important to your overall brand. Your brand is everything from the images you use to the colors and textures you use for your website. It should all be seamless. If you are a band, get together and discuss this and come prepared with examples of websites that you like, colors and textures that you'd like to use. Remember that these will be used across the board with your website, social media, merch, tour posters, and any visual that you use.
Educate yourself and do your research. See what others are doing online and see if you find inspiration there. If you hire a professional photographer, be sure to show them examples of what you like so they get the feel for what you're going for.
We have a helpful video for you in our Guides section that goes over imaging, branding, and what should be involved in your website. Be sure to check that out as well.
Thinking through what your "pitch" is is an essential aspect to your overall brand that you need to think through as well. We have an early post that talks you through how to create your unique pitch HERE.
Your pitch is what sets you apart from other bands, what makes you unique. Having your pitch featured on your website and social media outlets will not only help you with branding your band/music, but it will also give potential fans a taste of what you are like, who you are, and what you sound like.
If you don't feel comfortable writing a bio for yourself, hire a professional. The key is to have a bio that is available within your online press kit for both fans and the media. If you need help with locating a great and affordable bio writer, contact us and I can hook you up.
Many bands and musicians don't tap into the power of a newsletter and email communication with their fans and they are missing out on a huge opportunity. Create a way for fans to sign up for a monthly newsletter on your website where you can give them exclusive information and establish a deeper relationship with them. Social media is the first layer with fans…getting them to sign up for your newsletter is more exclusive. Give them free song download or video as an incentive to sign up. And keep it simple. Gain their name and email address and you are good to go.
We use MailChimp to manage our newsletter and we highly recommend it.
THREE MONTHS BEFORE RELEASE
- If your website, social media, and distribution aren't set up yet, get on it right away. It is essential that by the time you are ready for your album to release you have these three elements set up and ready to go.
- Make sure you use the same band image/headshot on your website, Facebook avatar and Twitter avatar. Keeping that imaging consistent throughout your social media outlets is key to establishing your brand.
- Decide on a location for a CD release show. Make sure you set aside plenty of time to make sure your venue is available, you have some great opening acts, and have physical product (t-shirts, stickers, CDs., etc.) ordered and ready to go for the event. And see if they have the ability to record your set for a possible free download for your fans.
TWO MONTHS BEFORE RELEASE
- Release an exclusive free download to your fans. This can be the first single from your album to give fans a taste of what's to come. If you have some great local radio stations, submit it and start establishing a relationship with them. It might not get played this time but you never know if it will down the road.
- Get to work creating some "sharable" content that you can use online. Downloadable posters, e-cards with your CD release show information and cover art, banners, etc., anything that fans can share with their friends online to help spread the word of not only your new album but for your CD release show coming up. By creating sharable content you are giving your fans a reason to share your brand/information with their fans. This is word of mouth at its best.
- Start thinking through contests and other giveaways that you might be able to do. Come up with creative contests and giveaways (like free stickers, CDs, tickets to a show, exclusive merch, etc.) that you can share with your fans.
- Start researching local media outlets that you can contact to submit your CD release show information to. Check out our blog on how to contact local media for your show HERE.
- This is also a good time to research niche blogs and online websites to review your album. Check out our blog post on how to get album reviews HERE.
ONE MONTH BEFORE RELEASE
- We are big fans and supporters of a fantastic resource for musicians called NoiseTrade.com. We will give more information regarding NoiseTrade in the next post, but one month before your release we would highly suggest doing a NoiseTrade campaign. If you have some money set aside, NoiseTrade is a great outlet to invest in. They have very affordable advertising options and you not only get your music out there but you also gain email addresses for your newsletter.
We HIGHLY recommend you give away at least 3-4 songs through NoiseTrade. It can be one or two tracks from your new album and then two live tracks or whatever combo you want to do. A big mistake that many artists do is only give away one song.
If you are a new artist and this is your first album your first album really is a marketing tool. You are trying to get people to listen to your music, which will lead to fans going to your shows, buying your merch, purchasing your full album and so on. Your focus here is building an audience. The best way to do that is by giving fans a sampling of your music and getting them hooked.
If you decide not to use NoiseTrade, be sure to give fans and potential fans a way to download some free tracks.
- Announce your CD release event! Send out the e-cards, event notifications, emails to your family and friends, every way you know how to get a hold of your fans, family and friends!
- Contact the local press you researched last month regarding your CD Release Show. Be sure to include:
- Your Band Name (mention the fact that this is your CD release show)
- Date and Time
- Venue Address
- Venue phone number
- Price (if you include a free CD with the price of admission be sure to include that!)
- Your Website Information
- Your band phono/image
- **If it is a 21+ venue make sure to mention that as well!!
- Be sure to send the media a link to download your album to get a feel for your sound. That and it's just a great way to establish a relationship with the media.
- Send the niche blogs and websites you researched a download of your album for a possible review. You can read a previous blog regarding how to secure album reviews here: http://blog.mixtusmedia.com/how-to-get-album-reviews/
Send them a link to your online press kit (which should be part of your website) that includes your bio, high res images of the band and your album cover image, liner notes, who you are inspired by, who others might "compare" you to, and a way to contact you. If you are an established band, be sure to include links to previous reviews or quotes.
THREE WEEKS BEFORE RELEASE DAY:
- Follow-up with the local media, blogs, and websites you contacted regarding CD release show coverage and album reviews. Follow up with them at least once a week until the release. There is a fine line in being persistent and being annoying… keep that in mind and be respectful!
- Hold weekly giveaways (a CD, t-shirt, etc.) on your social media sites from now until the release of the album to keep the momentum going. Be sure to announce the giveaways on social media but hold the giveaway on your website. Have fans submit their name to the comment section of your blog (or come up with another way to enter) to keep the traffic flowing to your website. Look at your social media outlets as a megaphone to direct traffic to your website.
- Make sure that you aren't just posting information on your CD release or new album on your social media outlets. Keep the engagement rolling…make videos playing live versions of your new tunes, ask them questions, do a Q&A Tuesday where they submit questions and you answer, etc. The key is to not just push your release on them…keep thinking about your fans, what they want to see, hear, etc., and provide content DAILY.
- Hold an exclusive giveaway (maybe a Skype session with the band and a fan, meet and greets with a few fans at the CD release show, etc.) that will lead up to the release of your album. Get creative and come up with something really cool (it doesn't need to be expensive at all…just something special) to announce on release day.
ONE WEEK BEFORE RELEASE DAY
- Stream your entire album on your website for free using YouTube, SoundCloud, or BandCamp's embeddable players. It's not giving them a chance to download it… just stream it. This is a great way to not only create interest but give your fans and potential fans a reason to direct their friends to your website. It's also something exclusive that will only be available for a week.
- Announce the winner of your exclusive giveaway
- Give an exclusive to your newsletter list that they can purchase the new album for just $5 today and today only. It's a special exclusive that only THEY get.
- Send out reminders on your social media outlets that your album is available and give them links to where they can purchase it.
- Have a friend take pictures & video throughout your CD release show
DAY AFTER YOUR RELEASE SHOW
- Be sure to thank fans and specific media that supported you and your CD release
- Share images taken from the release show through Instagram. Post them on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
- Post video on your YouTube channel of the CD release show
- Ask fans to post reviews of your new album and the show on your social media outlets and on your website. Showing fans that you appreciate what they think goes a long way.
If you are able to record your CD release show and IT SOUNDS AMAZING (remember: QUALITY IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT!) give away a free download of the entire show. This is not only a great way to help spread the word of your band, but you will gain new fans by the truckload. The Civil Wars are the perfect example of giving away a free download of an entire show. It not only spread like wildfire online (because it was a freaking amazing recording) BUT it was also getting the word out about their album. Remember: free is your friend!
- Be sure to send thank you messages to the media who covered your CD release show or mentioned it. That goes a long way. When you receive reviews, also send them a thank you email. And don't forget to thank them and link to the reviews on Twitter and Facebook as well. Establishing a good relationship with the media now will help you more than you will know!
NEXT TIME: We will focus on distribution and other promotional tips.
QUESTION: What were some of your promotional ideas that helped you & your album? What would you like to share with other artists? Leave a comment below and share the love!