There is something special about the completion of an album. It’s the culmination of hours of time, energy, heart, and hard work. Believing in yourself and your music, you want to get your album heard by as many people as possible.
Much of the success of a release comes from the music promotion that goes along with it. When it comes time to promote an album, you want to be ready with a plan to reach not only your true fans, but also find new listeners.
There are some costs involved in promoting an album, but your biggest investment is going to be the time it takes to market your music by doing outreach, especially for an independent artist looking to get noticed.
Here are 12 strategies to use to promote your album:
1. Set up a pre-order
Setting up a pre-order is the first step in promoting your album. You can get some buzz generated early by having the album available for pre-order, and it allows you to take orders as soon as you start promoting the release. This phase allows you to target fans who want to be the first in line to support your music by purchasing a copy.
As you get the media ball rolling for your release, having your album available for pre-order, perhaps with a sample track, will also give you a call-to-action for the interviews or press releases you end up doing. If someone hears you on the radio, for example, they can go ahead and pre-order your album right away.
Because an album pre-order is a way for your fans to support you directly, set it up on your own artist website. That will give you a place to send media, fans, and followers. As a result, you’ll get direct access to statistics on how the pre-order is going, who is viewing and playing tracks from the pre-order, and the email addresses of people who do pre-order.
Plus, if you set up a pre-order with different formats, you’ll get a sense of how much vinyl to press, or how many CDs to order.
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2. Release a single
Whether you’ve released plenty of albums or this is your first time around, consider releasing a single or two prior to the full album. Releasing singles allows you to build continuous engagement with your fans. It helps build momentum, gain new listeners, and more interest in your music as the full album release draws near.
Plus, once your single gains traction on streaming services,, you can use that success to reach out to press, music bloggers, and radio before the full album is released.
3. Set up distribution
Distribution is an important part of album promotion. If you haven’t yet chosen a distributor, look for a service like CD Baby that will get your music placed on a multitude of platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon. You can distribute your singles, then add your full album.
While some artists aren’t crazy about having their music available to stream, don’t discount the benefit of music discovery. Getting on a playlist could garner your music more publicity and trickle down to mean more merch and ticket sales.
4. Create an EPK for your album
Before you start album promotion, create an EPK on your website. Most press, bloggers, bookers, and podcasters require this when you submit to them. Even if they don’t require it, an EPK is a quick and easy way for someone to see all the important information about your album in one place.
Be sure to add your music, a text ‘pitch’ that sums up your album, promotional photos, a video if you have one, and press that you’ve received to date.
Your EPK will be an essential tool in pitching your album to press, radio, and reviewers, so be sure that it reflects your music and your story accurately.
5. Promote your album on social media
While promoting your album on social media may seem like a no-brainer, take some time to develop a strategy. You’ll want to decide on your budget, and then create a content calendar with ideas for social media posts that will resonate with your fans. From there, determine if you plan to also run some targeted ads.
If you start early on in the process of recording your album, you’ll have lots of content to see you through your album promotion. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get results right away - it takes time and effort to penetrate all the noise on social media. Try to be as authentic as possible and lean on yourself - your story, and your brand - to generate genuine content related to your album.
Also, take advantage of what you do best - making music. Try doing a livestream on social media to announce your upcoming album, and then another one to demo a song or two to help promote your album launch.
6. Use your mailing list
Email is an effective way to generate interest and sales for your album. With all of the effort you’ve put into building your mailing list - this is the time to use it.
Create a series of emails that promote your album and use your mailing list to send these out, staggered, throughout your album promotion.
You can create a music page on your website that includes everything your fans need to know about this new release: from purchasing the tunes, to context about when and how it was made. Drive your fans there from your newsletters, with clear calls-to-action that encourage them to buy your album.
7. Promote your album to radio
Even if you don’t expect to get a hit on commercial radio, there are plenty of local and indie radio shows where music curators are listening, and where people still discover new music.
When researching radio stations and programs, make sure they suit your music, and that you are familiar with the kind of content they tend to have on air. If you’re a country artist, make sure you’re not submitting your album to an alternative rock show. You don’t want to waste your time (or the programmer’s time).
If possible, have a spin on your music prepared that will help your album get noticed. Whether you’re an opera singer turned country aficionado, or you’re coming back to music after a hiatus, create a narrative that is both ingenious and heartfelt to go along with your album pitch.
Finally, perseverance is a must. Only a small percentage of people are going to get back to you, so just keep at it, and you will have some success.
8. Promote your album to music bloggers and reviewers
Music blogs are an essential way to promote your album to new audiences. There are a ton of genre-centric blogs out there where bloggers review and post independent music.
Research is an important step here once again. Just like with your radio submissions, make sure you’re submitting to someone who writes about your genre of music, and who you think will be interested in what you are offering. Make sure to include your band EPK when you contact them.
Once you do get some press, regardless of the size of the outlet providing coverage, use that in your EPK and on social media to draw more interest to your release.
9. Promote your album to local media
Aside from the more popular means of getting your album out there, a few other outlets do exist that can help promote your music. Consider local TV, newspapers, and podcasts that might want to interview you and feature some of your music.
Local television shows and online papers are almost always looking for stories about the people who live in their region. For podcasts, consider both music centric podcasts and podcasts about the area you live in. Many towns and cities have podcasters who dedicate their show to local events and artists.
10. Create new band merch
One of the best ways to rally support for an album is by creating merch to go along with it.
Consider crafting items that will entice fans and also help promote your album. CDs, special edition vinyl, T-shirts, and stickers are just a few things you can consider offering for sale, or bundle as an incentive when someone buys your album.
Make sure you give yourself enough time to come up with a concept for the merch, order it, and ship it out before your album officially releases. You could also make merch quickly using your album art or band name using a print-on-demand service like Printful, so you can try many merch options, and don’t have to worry about buying inventory or shipping.
11. Organize an album release show
An album release show is an excellent way to get fans to buy your album in person, and to generate more buzz around the album itself. It’s also a really great opportunity to perform your entire album live, the way it was meant to be played.
You may choose to start local with your release show. This ties into the promotion you’ve done with local media, and helps keep the momentum driving sales of your album.
You’ll also want to devote some energy into promoting your release show specifically, to be sure you have a good turnout. Try creating a video announcing the show and use that on your social media channels and website to draw in fans.
This is another good opportunity to create social media posts around your album. From creating a Facebook event to posting photos of the band rehearsing, and information about giveaways at the release, you can generate excitement about the event in advance.
Door prizes like CD and merch giveaways are an awesome way to reward people for supporting your album release. To help with additional album promotion, consider printing stickers with your band logo and leave them on every chair for fans to take home.
A side benefit to performing a successful album release show is the extra boost it will give you to keep going with your promotional efforts.
12. Book a tour around your album
Although you’ll be busy promoting your album, think about booking shows to get your music heard by a wider audience. Start with booking shows at venues you’ve played before, or reach out to local places to keep your initial costs low. A new album release is often a good angle to use to approach a venue.
Even a mini tour of your local area can really help keep the momentum going after you’ve released your album, and gaining a good draw at these shows can be leveraged to book more shows in the future.
Not ready to hit the road? Make live streaming part of your album promotion strategy, by including live stream ‘tour stops’ to be sure you can reach fans who want to support you.
When it comes to promoting an album, make sure that you start early and create a strategy which you’ll be able to follow for all of your releases. Once you see what works, and what doesn’t work, you can adjust your promotion strategy accordingly. After all, album promotion will be a career long effort for most indie musicians; believe in your music and put in the work to be sure your fans are able to enjoy it!
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