Releasing a single is the first step to generating interest in your music and building a fanbase. Some artists have built massive fanbases and generated revenue from just one hit single. However, there’s a lot more that goes into successfully releasing a single than just posting it on your SoundCloud and sharing a link to it on your social media pages. If you want to leverage a single to break out, here are nine things you should do before you release it.
1. Create a plan
Create at least a three-month marketing plan to promote your new single. Break your plan down into several stages and describe what strategies and tactics you're going to use to promote your single during each stage. Your plan should also contain a timeline and milestones of what you want to accomplish at each stage.
2. Plan your debut
Are you going to debut your new single by doing a premeire with a music blog or media outlet? Are you going to use radio promotion, social media, record pools, a music video, or a combination of tactics? Decide on how you're going to introduce your new song to the world. Regardless of which method you choose, make sure you leave an impact.
3. Define your narrative
The narrative of your new single will help you secure press features. Identify your single's unique narrative and tie into your overall brand story. For example, let's say your song is about a woman in a broken relationship who wants to feel loved. The core message of your campaign can be "I Deserve Better." Your narrative would speak of the importance of self-esteem and self-worth in relationships and life.
4. Pick your distribution methods
Is your single going to be available for free, streaming, or purchase? Will it be available on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon, or SoundCloud? Decide where your new single will be available to your fans. Keep in mind that your single can be available for free on one platform and for sale on another platform. And regardless of which services you choose to distribute your single to, make sure it's available on your website so that you have the opportunity to capture email addresses.
5. Update your press kit and website
Update your bio with information on your single and take fresh press photos to support your campaign. Place your updated bio, press photos, and, of course, your single on your website. And don't forget to update your Sonicbids EPK as well, especially if you're looking to book gigs and secure press in support of your new music!
6. Register your work
Properly register your single to protect your work, collect your revenue, and track your analytics. Register your song with your performing rights organization, the US Copyright Office, and SoundExchange. You may also want to register your single with Nielsen BDS to track your spins.
7. Make a clean version of your single
If your song has explicit lyrics and you plan to include radio promotion in your campaign, create a clean version. Radio stations are not going to play your song if it has explicit lyrics and risk getting fined by the FCC.
8. Create your visuals and marketing materials
Create your single cover artwork and other marketing materials before the start of your campaign. If you're going to shoot a music video, decide on the concept, filming logistics, release date, and promo plan for your video. Make sure all your visuals and marketing materials are consistent with your brand.
9. Know what's next
So you have this great new single and it’s starting to catch on…what are you going to do next? Plan how you're going to build and capitalize on the momentum of your single. Decide if you're going to release another single, an EP, or an album. You can also capitalize on your success by seeking press features, booking bigger shows, and pursuing revenue opportunities such as endorsements and sponsorships.
Lauren Gill is the founder and chief power specialist at Power Publicity, a marketing, branding, and public relations firm that empowers entertainment, nonprofit, and lifestyle brands. She has executed several successful marketing and PR campaigns for major and indie recording artists. You can follow her on Twitter @IamLaurenGill and @_powerpublicity.