How to Create the Perfect Release Sheet for Your New Album

Posted by Alex Cowles on Oct 14, 2015 08:00 AM

onesheetsImage courtesy of the author

Your release sheet (often called a one-sheet) is a crucial component of your promotion campaign. It generally takes the form of a single-page document that covers all of the relevant details you'll need when sending the package out to potential supporters, tastemakers, bloggers, DJs, and so on. It's one of the first things you should have when building your package for promotion, so it makes sense to get it right from the outset to save any embarrassment or missed opportunities.

The release sheet is also the first point of call for those looking for more information after listening to audio clips or downloaded tracks, so you need to make sure it can answer everyone's questions easily, and it's a big help if it's an attractive document, too.

As a podcaster, DJ, and music blogger, I get sent countless release sheets as part of promotional campaigns every day, and although I don't take the time to check every single one (for various reasons), I have seen and dealt with enough of them to know what stands out and what doesn't. I'm going to cover what your release sheet should contain, and also how to make sure yours is up there with the best of them (if not better!).


First of all, the best file format for you to create the one-sheet is PDF. PDF is one of the most universal formats and doesn't require expensive software to read. Many operating systems and devices can read PDF files by default, and those that can't will likely already have a PDF reader or can get one very easily. Even modern browsers can read and display PDF files these days.

If you're using Microsoft Word to create the document, you can save to PDF or print to PDF. If you use something else, it would be worth checking if you can export to PDF, and if not, you can often get a "print to PDF"-type plugin or piece of software for your computer which will allow you to do this.

As a designer, I put mine together in Adobe InDesign, but your software of choice isn't important; it's more crucial that you get the content right, and that the look and feel work.


Every well-designed, communicative document starts with the content. Here's what your release sheet should have (as a bare minimum):

  • Artist name

  • Release name

  • Label name

  • Catalog number

  • Tracklist

  • Artwork

  • Release date

  • Contact details for more info

And if you want to really make sure all the info is there, you could also add:

  • A short intro/description of the release

  • A short artist bio

  • A short label bio

  • All relevant websites and social links

  • Promo/PR inquiry contact details

  • Mastering company details

  • Designer/artwork details

  • Artist photos

  • Relevant tour dates and details

  • Any other appearances

  • DJ quotes and early feedback from tastemakers

  • Links to interviews

  • Links to music videos

Don’t overload your one-sheet with information. If something isn't relevant or you don't want to highlight it, don't add it. Take care to make sure there are no spelling mistakes or typos. Something like that could end up looking a little amateur, and reflect negatively on what you're trying to achieve. When you add URLs, make sure that you get them right; check them before you add them to documents, and if possible, make them clickable URLs when you save the file. Test, test, test!

Look and feel

The visual design of your document is obviously up to you, but there are some crucial things to remember. Design is not about adding loads of elements, lines boxes, fancy fonts, colors, images, or anything else. Design is about effective communication of information.

With that in mind, it's wise to make sure your look and feel remain simple. I don't want to have to look at graphics or images that represent something I could easily read. I don't need maps, fancy fonts, or anything wild. I just want the information.

The release sheets that stand out the most are the ones that are most restrained. Often, they adhere to some simple guidelines:

  • The typeface is simple and readable. Serif or sans-serif is irrelevant, but either way, it's consistent in color and size and with suitable line height, line length, and letter spacing.

  • The cover art does not dominate, but is there if I need to refer to it.

  • There are no crazy colors or unnecessary images confusing things.

  • The crucial data (that list above) is easy to find and read.

  • Links are clickable to save me copying and pasting.

  • It's all one page. No extra documents, no additional pages of information, etc.

I also like to add my own label or artist logo to the release sheet – and be aware that your promotion company (if you use one) may wish to add their logo or details somewhere on the sheet as well.


More often than not, any extra stuff isn't required – I'm usually looking for only a handful of things when I check a release sheet: where the artist is from, what label the release is coming out on, and maybe a release date. Aside from that, I don't spend a huge amount of time reading release sheets, and I don't think many other people do either.

It's best to leave off too much in the way of music descriptions – let people figure that out for themselves. You may wish to give them a couple of basic genre names, and maybe two or three comparative artists to give them an initial idea of the sound, but don’t go overboard, since you really want people to check the audio first.

Once you start to get quotes and feedback from people, you may wish to add them and revise the release sheet, but that may end up doing more harm than good. Be aware of styles, associations, and implications of adding names to your sheet. Don't go wild just because they're "big names." It depends on your recipient's view of whether your chosen tastemaker has good taste. If I see a release and find out that Skrillex thinks it's amazing, I'll probably give it a miss. If I see that Rod Modell has said something positive, I'm definitely going to check it. Relevance is key here.

Ultimately, of course, it's up to you what you do with your release sheet – you may want to forget it and add all this content to an email or website, or you may wish to include all this info plus more. There are no rules set in stone.


The above advice and information actually forms part of my completely free "Getting Started With Self Releasing" course, in which you can enroll here. After taking the course, you should be much better equipped to figure out if self-releasing or starting your own small label is for you. You should also have a better understanding of how it all works, including promotion and what you can do to make sure you succeed.


Next up:


Alex Cowles (Stillhead) is a music producer, DJ, label owner, and music blogger. The 32-year-old producer has released a number of albums and EPs on more than 20 different record labels, including three of his own imprints. He has been on both sides of the artist/label table, has transformed a free net label into a working subscription model, and has performed his music all over Europe, the UK, and the USA. His latest project is How to Self Release, a blog and associated courses on the topic of going it alone or starting your own record label.

Topics: Music Business 101, Marketing & Promotion


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