I get asked about release plans and timelines quite a lot and have put together a fair few in my time, so thought I would share and outline some basic thoughts of mine as relating to the self-releasing musician or band. Keep in mind, every release project is different — what might work for one band may not work for another — however you should hopefully find most of the below tips relevant. Of course there is much more you can do and tailor accordingly, but this should be a good starting point.
An important question to ask yourself first and foremost is how you want to be portrayed, whether this is your first or your fifth release. There are great blogs out there about building up your “brand” and I highly encourage you to look them up. Consistency and quality should be the overriding factors that shape your campaign — this applies to all content, messaging, sales, as well as all live and promotional activities. Please do yourself a favour and read up on all best practices for Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube (or other preferred sites). There is a wealth of great information out there.
4-6 MONTHS BEFORE RELEASE
In my experience, everything in the DIY world takes more time (for the most part). This may not be true for everyone, but when budgets are low, resources limited and favours plentiful, delays are bound to take place. Records take longer to record, mix and master. Videos take longer to film and edit. Website work can drag on, artwork can be difficult to finalise and spec…. you get my point, so be mindful of it.
So, 4-6 months ahead of release would be a good time to:
- Get your single/EP/album recorded and mixed
- Start work on the artwork
- Do a photo shoot
- Sort out a distribution agreement: Figure out if physical distribution makes sense for you or whether digital-only is the way forward. Negotiating the right contract for you can take time and be costly if lawyers are involved, so educate yourself as much as possible prior to starting this process. There are of course routes that do not involve distributors at all but in today’s world (2013 at time of writing), having your music out on every major digital store around the world is invaluable.
- Start working on consistent social media re-skins: Make sure your FB/ Twitter/YouTube channel/artist website all look visually appealing and consistent
- Do you have an official site? If not, register your domain and set one up. If yes, is it up to date or does it need to be refreshed?
- Brainstorm a list of social media content you will aim to put out over the course of your campaign
- If investing in a publicist and/or radio team, arrange meetings with all prospective people and be ready to have them hired by the end of this period
- Sign up with a mailing list company for a regular newsletter (Mail Chimp/ FanBridge / Constant Contact)
CONTENT TIPS: Compile studio footage, photos of writing sessions, photos of song arrangements or sheet music if applicable, release snippets from demos, behind-the-scenes at photo shoot.