So you've just recorded a song. It may be your first song, it may be that you've recorded a few already. Either way, you want to know how you can get it out there, and start to build up your name as a talented musician.
Today I'm going to show you how to do just that. Even if you've released a few singles before, I suggest you read on till the end to make sure you're not missing anything out in your single release campaigns. And as always, please give this guide a share if it's helpful. 🙂
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1. Decide What The Aim For Your Song Is
The first thing you need to do is decide what you aim for this recording is. Is it good enough to be put out there for all to hear? Or did it not come out how you wanted, so not really ready to be promoted?
If for some reason it didn't come out good enough, it's important you don't go any further in this process. Instead, you should either re-record the song until it's how you wanted it to be, or if you don't think it'll ever be good enough, create a new song instead. This may mean spending more money, but it's better then putting out weak material that'll give people a bad impression of you. This can set your music career back a lot.
Once you have a finished song which is good enough to release to the public, you can move on to the next step.
From here on, I'm going to assume you've recorded this song to be a single release. If you plan on making it a album, ep or mixtape, then you'll want to hold back from going any further until you have multiple songs completed.
2. Create Your Single Cover
The next thing you need to do is get your single cover created. Even if you're not planning on pressing up a physical version of this single, if you want to push your song properly out there, it'll need a image to represent it.
This is something that's largely overlooked as many musicians give out free single after free single hoping it'll get them well known. The truth is, it's actually better to make less singles, and get each one out there more in it's own right.
The ‘throwaway single' culture has meant that many independent musicians release singles, get a few hundred views on Youtube (if that), then go and put out another single. But what about reaching the thousands and thousands of other fans who are interested in your genre of music? I'm not saying you'll reach them all, but you should put in effort to reach as many of them as you can before releasing a new single to promote to the same 200 or so people who saw your first single.
So get your cover made and we can move forward.
3. Record A Promotional Video For Your Song And Distribute It
This step is optional if you haven't got the budget to create a decent video, but it is preferred if you have. People generally take to videos a lot easier then they do to songs. While the average person needs to listen to a song a few times before they remember it or gain a real interest, if you see a video which instantly stands out, there's a much better chance you'll pay attention the first time around.
Don't create just any video for the sake of it though. While a low budget video is a option, if doesn't come out good, this will leave a bad impression on you. So only put it out if it'll gain a lot more fans then it'd lose.
I've a guide which will get you started with video making, you can check it out here: https://www.musicindustryhowto.com/how-to-make-a-music-video-for-beginners/.
Important: During the period you're waiting for the video to be made, you should start finding places you can promote your new single to. So when everything is ready in terms of promotional material, you can reach out to them without doing all the leg work at your most busy period. As it takes a while to get yourself gigs, you should start finding and approaching venues right now. More details on gigging later.
Once your video is back, the next step is to distribute it to the appropriate places. If you made a low budget music video, then the main place you'll get it up is on Youtube, and any relevant video sites in your genre. If your video is broadcast quality, you'll also want to submit it to TV channels and shows which play your type of music. This process can take a while, so be sure to give it enough time before your release date.
4. Distribute Your Single
Next up, you'll want to get your single in popular digital download shops as well as on your own website. We want people to be able to buy a copy of your song, as not only will it recoup some of the money invested into all the promotional material, but it'll also get you a higher quality of fan in the long run.
Now I won't lie to you; if you invested in a music video, artwork, recording costs and marketing costs, it's unlikely you'll recoup all of your money on your first single. The first single from independent musicians is usually used to lay a foundation, open up doors with music industry figures, and generally get a feel for your market. That said, recouping all costs and going into profit is a possibility.
The main thing though is that you push this first song as far as you can, build up your mailing list, and generally get some good links you can use in your next single launch.
Each time you put out a new release, your efforts will compound. You'll launch to a bigger initial fanbase, meaning you'll have some sales instantly come in. As you build up more buzz, you'll also have more Djs and events giving you a chance and exposure with their audience.
That said, for now focus on allowing people to buy your single if they choose. Make your song available for digital download in all the big retailers (using the link at the top of this step), and make it available to buy on your website.
5. Reach Out To Relevant Djs, Websites, And Magazines Which May Be Interested In Your Song
In step three, I mentioned you should start finding out information about places which you could potentially promote your new single. If you did this, you should now have a nice big list of places you can contact once you're ready. You should now be ready.
If you have money available to you, you can pay people to do this for you. There are radio and TV promoters who have a good relationship with media outlets, and will give a much better chance of your material getting covered by these outlets. If you can afford these, you should go with them. If not, then you can still do everything by yourself.
Reach out to websites which cover your genre, as well as Djs, radio stations, magazines and the like. Let them know about your new single, but without making it all about you. They'll only showcase your music if it benefits them and their audience in some way, so bare that in mind when you're making your pitch.
As you'll still be relatively new to them, you will get a lot of rejection in terms of getting your song played. This is just the way it is. Think about it from their point of view; they get lots of independent artists approaching them every day, and they can't make everyone happy. This is why you need to come with a unique selling point.
That said, if you can get 10% or more of people you approach helping to promote your new single, you're off to a good start. This number will rise as you build your name up more and have more leverage, but initially we all start out with low bargaining power.
6. Promote Your Song Via Your Own Network And Through Gigging
If you have your own network of friends who like the kind of music you play, then it's the obvious call to get them to have a listen and help you get your song out there. Don't force it on to friends and family who aren't into the music you make, these aren't your core fanbase, so won't benefit your music career in the long-run.
Lastly, you should also start up a gigging campaign. If you have already started finding and approaching event organizers as mentioned in step 3, you should have at least a show or two lined up already, with more potentially in the pipeline. If you've been taking your time with this side of things so far, it's now time to step your game up! Go all out to get gigs, and raise awareness of both you and your new single.
So there you have it, the minimum steps you should be taking when releasing each new single. Of course, there are other details I couldn't fit into this article. So if you want to know the ins and outs of learning to release and promote your singles (as well as albums and anything else), check out my training in the ‘Advanced Courses‘ section of this website. That will give you a lot more of a full on plan to follow.