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How to release your music as an independent musician

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How To Release Music iMusician

Releasing your music – whether it’s a single, EP, or album – is a significant step in your career. It’s also a very time-consuming activity, requiring various tasks to ensure a successful outcome in the form of streams, revenue, and fans. That’s why we want to help you do it right! In this guide, we’ll lead you through the process of releasing your music, going over the most essential activities you need to remember!

The best times to release your music

One of the key things you need to consider is when exactly you will release your music, having it all planned down to the last moment. As it’s been discovered, particular seasons, months, and days seem to be better for releasing new music than others.

Best months to release your music

January/February

Perfect for emerging artists to release new music

April

Great for gaining exposure and collaborating fellow musician and local record stores

May/June/July

The perfect season for releasing up-beat and energetic songs and to perform them on festivals

September/October

Great to attrack attention of industry professionals and fans after the end of their holidays

Now, selecting the month for your release is, in certain cases, a purely individual decision. That’s because in such cases, the time period should correspond with the concept and character of your music. If your new track is all about the summer vibes, releasing it around Christmas time doesn’t make sense. Just like that, it makes no sense to put out a Christmas song in the middle of July or August (or actually any other time than Christmas).

If, however, you’re releasing a song or an album with no general concept, choosing certain months over others may turn out beneficial for you.

January/February for new talents

The period after Christmas is usually considered the least competitive season, which tends to be particularly slow for more prominent artists. This is why January and February present the perfect opportunity for new, emerging DIY artists to release their music and introduce themselves to the industry.

This also has a lot to do with celebrating the new calendar year. Many of us are met with a new wave of motivation and ambition. That’s why industry professionals may actively look for new talents.

April for exposure

Every April, thousands of fans, artists, and independent record stores worldwide come together to celebrate Record Store Day (usually held on the third Saturday). It is to commemorate every single individual who has contributed to the existence of independently-owned record stores - from owners to staff, artists, and customers.

April may therefore be a great month to collaborate with your local record shops and other artists to get a release out and run a related campaign.

May/June/July for summer songs and festivals

Summer festivals traditionally kick off in June with the festival season running till late August. If your new music is rather energetic, enthusiastic, and full of summer excitement, releasing it in May, June or July may be a great idea!

Moreover, the season opens up an ideal opportunity for touring and performing, particularly at outdoor venues and events. If you’re releasing music during this time, try to coincide it with booking some gigs. You can promote your new music while expanding your fanbase and generating revenue.

September/October for new beginnings

Although it’s not the same as when the new year comes, September and October are also a season of new beginnings. People come back from their vacations and pupils and students go back to school, starting a new school year or a whole new educational chapter in their lives.

This is the great time to ‘hit’ the industry’s professionals, as well as your fans, with your new release. While they are back to their regular lives and jobs, they will be patiently waiting for some new exciting music to come. This is your chance to shine, expressing your true music style and artist brand.

Best days to release your music

It's been a while now since Friday has been named the best day to release new music for independent artists. The tradition goes back to Billboard charts which in 2015 set their weekly cycle to run again from Friday to Thursday. Releases going out on the first day of the cycle have a better chance of hitting the top of the charts. In July of that year, Friday officially became Global Release Day, effective in more than 45 major recorded music markets worldwide.

Nowadays, music streaming platforms such as Deezer or Spotify update their playlists like New Music Fridays or Release Radar on Fridays. Whoever releases new music that day has a greater chance of being playlisted.

Last but not least, during the Covid outbreak in 2019, Bandcamp launched so-called Bandcamp Fridays. On the first Friday of every month, Bandcamp waives its revenue share to help support artists on the platform, letting them keep 100% of their revenue. In other words, Friday is THE day.

How to prepare for releasing music

Now that you may have an idea of when it would be the best time to release your music, we can move forward with the preparation for that special day. The following are the key activities you need to consider before you actually put your new release out.

Master your music

Mastering is an essential part of audio post-production. Its purpose is to make your whole recording sound wholesome, elevating the sonic elements of the stereo mix and optimizing the sound and quality of the release across all media formats. In other words, mastering is the final quality control of the recording, making sure that your fans can enjoy your release in high quality on all possible devices.

In recent years, the art of mastering your own music has become more accessible to independent musicians and producers who can now edit their music from wherever they are. This is primarily due to a wide range of plug-ins and digital audio workstations (DAWs) that are nowadays available to anyone, providing them with a variety of tools and features.

At iMusician, we offer our very own quality online mastering option that uses the power of AI technology and machine learning. Our Instant Mastering tool mimics the same processes and sounds used by studio mastering engineers to optimize and elevate the sound quality of your tracks.

If you’ve decided to make use of our Instant Mastering or any other software out there to take mastering your record into your own hands, we’re definitely cheering you on! In any case, be sure to include the mastering process in your release plan. The time that you’ll need to edit your music is relatively individual, depending on the tool you’re using, the quality of your mix, the genre, as well as the level of your mastering skills and knowledge.

Approximately, it can take 30-90 minutes for a professional audio engineer to master an average track. With our Instant Mastering, it will take just a few minutes to have a great-sounding, mastered track ready! To learn more about iMusician’s Instant Mastering and how it works, check out our product page on the portal.

Choose the right digital music distributor

If your release is all good to go, the next thing is choosing your digital music distributor. This is a particularly important step as your distributor is the one delivering your release to the digital and download stores, making them available for everyone out there. There are therefore several factors to consider when choosing your distributor, including the price and features offered.

However, there are other important elements, too. For example, do you need to pay annual fees to keep your music online forever? How long does it take to distribute your music? What level of flexibility you’re offered as an independent musician? Does the company distribute your genre or to the store of your choice? Do you have to pay the withholding tax? Are there any other hidden fees? Can you access direct support via email or the community of artists?

Overall, the distributor you select will influence where your music is distributed to, how much it gets picked up by potential fans, and how much money you make from the music you make. At iMusician, we are aware of our responsibility as a music distributor and we hope to be your ultimate/one-stop/360 music business partner, centering everything we do around you and your needs as an independent musician.

With us, you will get truly unlimited music distribution! Unlike many other distributors, we don’t charge an annual fee to keep your music online – no matter what plan you’re currently on. All you have to pay is a single-one-time fee to get your music delivered to the stores of your choice and your music will live on until the end of the universe!

What’s more, we strive to provide musicians with the level of service and flexibility they need. Whatever subscription you choose at iMusician, you can switch to our Free plan at any time for as long as you need. Your music will still be available online and your revenue will still remain accessible.

Additionally, with iMusician, you can have your music distributed to the widest range of digital and download stores, including classical music and electronic ones. We deliver all releases in a month or less, based on what you need, and as a Swiss company, we charge no hidden fees, including the withholding tax.

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Plan ahead your budget, strategy and promotional campaign

As we already suggested at the beginning of this guide, releasing your music requires some serious planning ahead. If your next release is going to be a single, we would recommend taking at least a month and a half to 2 months prior to the release date to prepare everything that’s needed (mastering, release plan, promo campaign, etc.). If it’s a rather big project, like an EP, album, or compilation, we would recommend dedicating at least 3-6 months to its preparation.

Prepare your budget

Mastering your music, having your release distributed, running social media ads - these and some other activities will need to be included in your budget. Writing down what the cost estimates of these tasks are will eventually save you lots of stress, money, and time you may be spending on focusing on music. Having your music released is similar to any other big project, like moving apartments, going to school, or planning your dream discovery trip. It’s therefore important to plan your expenditures to know what to be prepared for.

Adopt the right music release strategy

Just like that it’s important to plan ahead your release strategy as well as your promotional campaign. The music release strategy you opt for should be tailored to your particular needs and situation as a DIY musician. There are plenty of different strategies that you can adopt or get inspired by.

One of them that’s been particularly popular among musicians recently is called the waterfall strategy. This one is characterized by the gradual release of an EP or an album where the tracks are added one by one until the release is complete and fully available on streaming and download platforms. Its purpose is to gain more visibility across the streaming services and, with every new song out, to generate more streams for the previous ones.

Does the waterfall release strategy sound promising to you or would you like to explore other ones? Our article about 3 proven release strategies for musicians and record labels in 2023 could help you determine what strategy would work best for you.

Run the perfect promo campaign

Last but not least, it’s important to determine and plan how and for how long you will promote your release, both before and after it’s out in the world. We’ll dive deeper into the release promotion itself a bit later in our guide. However, at this point, it’s key to have a clear picture of the tools and platforms, such as social media channels, that you will use for your marketing activities.

Our Artist Hub may be the ideal tool to center your promotional efforts around. Designed as an easy smartlink, our Artist Hub will let you have all your promo materials, such as EPK, pre-save links (available with Artist Hub Pro+), bio, tour dates, and high-res photos in one place and accessible in just one click. Convenient, time-sparing, and money-saving!

What’s more, with Artist Hub, you can choose between Artist Hub Free, Artist Hub Pro, and Artist Hub Pro+ to meet your current needs and break through the noise! Additionally, our Artist Hub is now available as an add-on to any artist out there - no matter who you distributed your music with!

Want to know more about iMusician’s Artist Hub? Check out the Artist Hub product page on our product page!

Design your artwork

Visuals present a great companion to your music – from your cover art to your official pictures, to additional artwork and images, you use for social media. These visuals add to your release as well as your entire artist brand and help your fans and audience create an image of who you are as an artist and what your music represents.

Take enough time to think about the artwork for your release - what it should caption and what it should represent. Whether it’s designing your cover art yourself or having someone else do it for you, creating the visuals for your music will take time.

Make sure that you take these activities into account when creating your timeline (and budget, too). We would generally suggest taking at least 2 weeks to design and complete your artwork.

Are you interested in some unusual and cool tools for your artwork design? Feel free to check out our article about AI artwork generators!

Create a pre-save campaign

Pre-save campaigns have been doing some magic for independent artists and their releases. Creating a pre-save campaign lets musicians promote their release effectively before it's out. It allows their fans to save their yet-to-be-published music on various streaming platforms and listen to it the moment it’s released to the world.

Pre-save campaigns are important for various reasons. Firstly, they let you promote your music way ahead of your release date while allowing you to start collecting your fans’ saves from day zero. This helps to create awareness of your upcoming music and ignite excitement in your fandom.

What’s more, the pre-save campaigns are usually widely supported by music streaming services, like Spotify or Deezer. As a result, these platforms will likely feature your new track in their algorithmic playlist ‘Release Radar’ on the Friday of the week it’s been published. To learn more about the benefits of pre-save campaigns, check out our article on how to use pre-save Spotify to promote your music.

There are many smartlink tools out there that will enable you to create your very own pre-save campaign. At iMusician, we, too, offer a pre-save feature as a part of our Artist Hub Pro+ tool. With our Artist Hub Pro+, you can create a pre-save page that turns, automatically on the release date, into a fully customizable smartlink with EPK and tour dates. You only set it up once and we take care of the rest, while the link stays the same.

What’s more, with Artist Hub Pro+, your pre-save page is ready to be shared right after your release is uploaded – no matter who you distribute it with. This means that you don’t need to wait for a Spotify URI or your release to be delivered to start running your pre-save campaign!

Are you ready to create your pre-save page today? Check out our Artist Hub Pro+ on our website!

Artist Hub Pro+ iMusician

Pitch your release for playlist consideration

Having your music playlisted is one of the best ways to get heard and discovered by new potential fans. There are multiple ways to pitch and submit your track for playlist consideration – directly through the artist services of the major streaming platforms, via playlist submission platforms, or possibly through your distributor, too.

For example, with Spotify for Artists, you’re able to submit your track through their playlist pitch tool before it’s out. As you can imagine, the competition is very high but there are ways to increase your chances of getting playlisted.

Firstly, make sure to provide all the key details regarding your song, including the genre and mood – this will also help to get your music on the playlist that is the best fit for you. Secondly, submit your track at least 7 days before release day. This will likely get your song on your followers’ Release Radar playlists.

As we mentioned earlier, there are a variety of submission platforms available, through which you can pitch your track to multiple playlists. These include Soundplate (submit to playlists on both Spotify and Deezer), Boost Collective, SubmitHub, and iMusician, too.

With iMusician’s AMPLIFY+ subscription plan, you can opt for our select playlist pitching service where our industry insiders will listen to your music and pitch your track to top editorial playlist curators on platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, etc.

What’s more, you can submit your tracks to our very own iMusician’s Spotify playlists, curated by the iMusician team. From Emo Pop Punk to i’M Electronic to Power To The Pop - we’ve got playlists for everyone. Just select the one(s) that are most fitting for you and feel free to submit your music today!

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Keep your artist profiles, social media profiles and EPK up-to-date

Refresh and claim your artist profiles

A new release will attract your current audience as well as new, potential fans – not only to your music but to you, too. It’s therefore important to try to make a great first impression of who you are as an artist at that very moment! Start by updating your artist profiles on streaming platforms, like Spotify, Deezer and Apple Music. Try to have a clear vision of how you want to be portrayed and presented in your profiles.

Make sure to have your name logged in correctly and that your bio is current, including all key information about you and your music. As we suggested earlier in the guide, visuals are essential, too. Make sure that your profile picture as well as other photos in your gallery are up-to-date and aligned with your artist brand. Last but not least, be sure that your profile includes all of your relevant social media handles.

Another thing you can do with your artist profiles is to claim them, meaning to have them officially verified. Claiming your page will ultimately give you more control over your profile and allow you to get insight into more detailed information about your streams and followers. To let everyone know that you’ve claimed your page, you will get the blue 'verified' check mark next to your artist name. The process of having your profile verified may differ from one streaming platform to another.

Check out our blog articles on how to claim your page on Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple Music.

Social media and EPK

The same you’ve done with your artist profiles, you can apply this to your social media accounts and EPK. Having your online presence up-to-date is all about giving your audience a chance to see you for the person and musician that you are – including the inspirations behind your music, your creative process, your music skills, or even your personal values.

Your electronic press kit (or EPK) is also something you can use to promote your upcoming release through the media. It’s important that if you pitch your EPK to journalists and bloggers, you provide them with true and current information. Update your EPK by adding information about your new release and your creative direction, and inserting up-to-date visuals including your artwork. Last but not least, make sure to include streaming and download links for your new Music.

Don’t forget that with our Artist Hub Pro and Artist Hub Pro+, you can have your materials all together stored in one place. Everyone can access your download and streaming links, your EPK, bio, tour dates, photos, and more from a single, fully customizable smartlink.

Find your hook and craft your promotion around it

Speaking of social media and EPK, it’s about time to talk about the promotion of your release - something that may ultimately have a great impact on its success. One thing that you should strive for with your promotional efforts is to set your release apart from the rest.

The way to do it is to craft your own individual hook, meaning something that will make your release stand out. Your hook can pretty much be anything connected to you, your release, and your music that is thrilling, surprising, and most importantly, attention-grabbing. It can even be the music itself.

For example, in 2021, American singer Halsey released an album called ‘If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power’. As an alternative rock and grunge-pop record with strong industrial influence, the album presents an absolute deviation from the singer’s previous, mostly pop and electro-pop albums. What’s even more surprising is that Halsey wrote that album while being pregnant and the record largely mirrors the topics of giving birth and becoming a mother, both in positive and negative ways.

The seemingly happy concept of planned pregnancy intertwined with the heavy and dark album (and accompanied by a horror movie) creates a powerful and shocking contrast that attracts the attention of the audience.

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Once you define your hook, it’s important that you put it at the center of your promotion. You can highlight it in your music videos or visual assets, describe it in your press release and the track’s bio, or portray it in your merch. You can simply play with it however you want, creating an exciting release campaign.

Take advantage of social media for your promotion

Speaking of promotion, something to help you with it is undoubtedly social media. According to statistics for January 2023, there are more than 4.7 billion active social media users around the globe. This makes social media a tool that one should never disregard.

Of course, with the high number of networks, you can’t have an active presence on all of them. However, what you can do is utilize those that work for you – TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. – and take advantage of them for your release promotion.

As you may have noticed, TikTok has enjoyed a global boom in the past few years. The platform, based on short-form video production, has also played a significant role in popularizing numerous musicians and their songs that have become known through TikTok trends.

Short-form content has become popular also on other platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Whether it’s Instagram and Facebook Reels and Stories or YouTube Shorts, people just love scrolling through short videos, watching others following certain trends, taking on challenges, or naming facts about their new upcoming music release.

Whatever social media network you decide to use, make sure that the content you create is genuine and attractive and that it truly serves your promotional initiatives. Be aware that social media is a great place to interact with your fans, and with other artists, too. Use your content to create a conversation with your audience, engage them in giveaways, challenges, or competitions, and simply lure them into becoming part of your music and your fanbase.

Would you like to know more about how to promote your music on various social media platforms? Check out our articles about Twitter and Pinterest or our guides about promotion on TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram.

Pitch your EPK to media outlets

We’ve talked about having your EPK up-to-date, now it’s about how to use it. Sending your EPK or just a press release may sound a bit outdated. However, it’s still a norm among media outlets, considered a usual way of getting in touch with journalists and bloggers and generating editorial and online media coverage.

An important thing to know about pitching your EPK and the field of media relations is that it’s largely based on building relationships with the outlets. Being a journalist or a PR professional can be demanding and time-consuming. Media outlets can simply not feature every single artist in their coverages and that’s why oftentimes they prefer those that they know over those that they don’t.

This doesn't mean you should be discouraged. It’s still worth compiling your press release and sending it out to various music bloggers, editors, and magazines, together with your perfectly-crafted EPK. Just be prepared that not everyone will pick up on your story and that’s absolutely okay!

Once you get in touch with a journalist and eventually have your press release published, be sure to nourish the interaction that you have with the journalist moving forward. Show them your appreciation for their work and your gratitude for being featured in the outlet. Next time you have a release out, they may remember you and feature you again - you simply never know! Plus, being polite and genuinely grateful can never hurt.

Make a music video and produce some merch

Now, these activities are considered additional. They are not mandatory but can be beneficial for you, mostly as part of your promotion, both in terms of your release and your artist brand.

A music video can be a perfect companion to your music, elaborating further on your release’s subject matter. As suggested above, it’s also a great asset to highlight and visualize your personal hook! As a result, a video can help you create a somewhat deeper connection between your audience and your work of art.

A music video is also not something you need to have ready when the release comes out. Of course, it would be ideal if you did, mostly considering the time you need to produce and finalize it, but releasing it sometime after your music is out can be great, too. However, be aware that you really need to schedule it and plan it well in advance.

Therefore, if possible, try to determine whether you’ll have a video or not already during your release planning to avoid any time discrepancy and financial loss.

Merch, too, can be a great tool to interact and connect with your audience, mainly your die-hard fans. It’s just a wonderful feeling for a fan to be able to wear or own something that’s connected to their favorite musician or to a music release they strongly relate to.

The issue with merch is that it may be relatively costly, both producing it and storing it. Be sure that making your own merch is something you can afford and your fans really want. Investing money into something that you won’t profit from can seriously harm you financially and even hinder your career. Remember that if you don’t produce merch now, there may always be another opportunity in the future!

Conclusion

If you made it this far in our guide and it helped you with releasing your music, we’re beyond happy! However, it doesn’t end here! Make sure to give love to your music post-release, as well.

You can keep promoting it, talk about it on your socials and, eventually, perform it in front of your fans! We believe that this is truly the cherry on top.

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