What is a Release Strategy?
Your release strategy is the blueprint for your roll out. Details of release date, length of rollouts, marketing concepts and timelines all exist within your strategy. Working out a thorough but flexible release plan is often the difference between your release doing well or not.
Your release strategy should provide you with a clear and detailed set of tasks which you will work to throughout your release. Your release strategy should be thorough and detailed enough to roadmap what your release should look like and highlight the necessary steps for you to achieve the relevant targets.
Pick a Method
Below we have outlined some of our go to release strategies. There are a whole host of different ways to go about releasing a single. Every artist and release is different and so we have to factor that in when we are selecting a method that works best for our release. There are a few things to consider before selecting your desired strategy:
What stage are you at in your career and how ready is your music? We would always suggest putting your best foot forward when it comes to sound and visual quality. However, we are aware that sometimes you have to work with what you have. Therefore it is important to look at the readiness of your track and match the strategy that will work best with that in mind. You may want to combine elements of multiple strategies. Nothing is set in stone and everything is designed to be adjustable so you can optimise areas that are working and eliminate areas that are not.
If you have information about your audience it is wise to bear in mind their habits and tendencies. You want a strategy to align heavily with your audience and present your music in a way that will capture and hold their attention. Each step of your strategy should appeal to and engage your audience.
Appropriateness and Relevance
Make sure your strategy is appropriate and relevant for your release. For example, if you are releasing a remix you may use a different strategy than if it was a fresh release. You wouldn’t use a snowball / waterfall strategy on a stand alone single in the same way as you would if a single was part of a project.
What resources do you have available to you? Factor in the various elements you will need to complete your strategy and ensure you have access to the full range of resources that you will need to execute your strategy successfully. It can be disheartening when a strategy doesn’t quite go to plan or when elements of the plan are unable to be executed. It is far more rewarding to create an ambitious yet realistic plan that you have the resources and budget to complete.
How to Plan a Strategy
Pick a Method
Following this list are thorough examples and explanations of each strategy.
Choose which is best aligned to your objectives and release.
Roadmapping is an agile planning technique which will allow you to communicate your strategy. You will assign various touchpoints to specific times. A roadmap will help when you have to communicate your strategy to different members of your team. Once you have chosen a strategy, you should apply the template to the specifics of your project and assign dates.
Your strategy will have multiple phases: pre rollout, during and post rollout. Identify these phases and assign each part of your rollout to a phase.
Plan in Details
Now you have outlined what is happening and when you need to go into detail:
What content will you need in each phase?
What are the key deliverables that you need from different areas of your campaign?
What are the deadlines on each milestone of the release?
What work or pitching has to be done before hand?
What content are you releasing and when?
Be pedantic and be specific because the more specific you are and the clearer you are on your strategy and plans, the better your chances of success and the deeper your knowledge of releasing and your audience becomes.
Create a Task List
From all of this planning should emerge a very clear task list. All the individual actions that need to be taken to ensure the successful roll out of your strategy.
Tried and Tested Strategies
Here is a list of the tried and tested strategies we have used to generate over 1 million video views and 750,000 streams across campaigns we have worked on. The outlined explanations are guidelines only and should always be tailored to make sense alongside your release. Your strategy has to work for you. Be prepared to understand the concept and then apply the concepts to your release.
For the purpose of context we have created a case study to talk you through each process. Below is an outline of the starting point of the case study which we will reference as an example for each of the methods.
Example Artist – Xander
Xander is a songwriter and producer who records mostly at home, but outsources mixing and mastering.
Xander has spent a long time on this and it is a very personal project to him. He feels as though the message of the project could help a lot of people and gain him some new fans.
He wants to have as much impact as possible but only has a small following.
He averages 1000 streams per release, though sometimes he falls just under. He has a base level of 100 monthly listeners per month on Spotify and a combined following of 6K across Tik Tok and Instagram.
He doesn’t tend to use other social media platforms.
His main sources of promotion are word of mouth and social media, although he doesn’t tend to post much.
He hasn’t yet released a music video.
His core fanbase is made up of his family and friends.
He doesn’t have a huge amount of funding and so has to make what he does have go as far as possible.
What is the Waterfall Method?
This is one of the most commonly used strategies in the industry; when an EP or album has the appearance of being released gradually, with one track added at a time until the full release is made available when the final track is added.
When Can I Use the Waterfall Method?
This method you can use for EP’s, bundles and albums.
How Long Does the Strategy Run For?
This is a gradual and phased release strategy that will run anywhere from 30 – 40 weeks. Ample time has to be allowed for each stage and extra time added if adjustments need to be made. For example if one song is performing particularly well you may consider allowing that phase to run longer than planned and build further traction and audience ahead of the release. At each phase you will review and optimise so you can maximise the potential ahead of releasing the project in its entirety.
What are The Benefits of This Strategy
Utilising individual songs to promote the larger project and build a buzz prior to full release. With each single release you have an individual campaign. The audience you retain from each release serves as an influx of listeners when you release the full project. You grow your audience with the singles to ensure you have listeners there when you release the project in its entirety. Having a primed audience ahead of a project is business critical. The time cost and energy that goes into making a full project is drastically more severe than that of a single release. Therefore it is wise to not just drop a full project if you do not have a loyal and engaged existing fanbase. Release singles first and allow your audience to grow with you.
Avoiding Dry Stream Spells
Consistency and regularity are crucial elements of being a modern day artist. A waterfall strategy gives you a reason to remain consistent with releasing which is massively beneficial for engaging your core fanbase and staying fresh in the minds and algorithms
Get with the Algorithm
Platforms are looking for continuous and exponential growth and despise drops in listeners and inactivity. If you have an existing and loyal fanbase you will always retain monthly listeners, however, when you are emerging and growing you may find that inactivity causes a dip in your numbers. This then reduces the likelihood of your song surfacing algorithmically which isolates you from a whole world of listeners. This method allows you to feed the algorithm regularly, which keeps your music surfacing frequently.
Land Those Editorial Spots
When releasing successive singles, you’ll be able to pitch each of your songs on Spotify for Artists and thus increase your chances of getting into editorial playlists. The more frequently you pitch the greater your chances of landing the coveted editorial spot.
To get into Spotify Algorithmic Playlists
Like Release Radar and Discover Weekly. By using this release strategy, you’re more likely to enter these playlists.
Implementing a Waterfall Strategy
By now we will be used to our golden rule, the start point for everything… a plan. Trust us when you make a plan you remove anxiety and hold yourself accountable. Ensure you give yourself the best possible chance of success. Get a project management tool, like trello or notion and create a calendar
Explanation of a Waterfall Strategy
Now let’s give you an example so you can really understand the method and how it all works.
In the modern music industry the album isn’t quite the monumental birth of an artist it once was. To audiences and critics, an album really showcases your skill and ability as an artist to put together a body of work. A great album can still have a major impact, but the emphasis is still heavily split across individual songs rather than the entire body of work. Largely due to the way we currently consume music, and the platforms that are designed differently to the past. Although creating an album does not carry quite the same status symbol anymore it doesn’t make the need for albums obsolete in the current industry. A good album can still be culture shifting, a good album can still have cultural impact and a good album can still sell – You just need for people to hear it.
So taking into account the current climate and who the consumer is we have to adapt our approach to project releasing to exist in the landscape.
Cue the Waterfall Strategy
We are going to pick a number of individual songs from the project to promote before the project is released:
Think of which songs have the most longevity and commercial viability as they will be your promotional tools – pick 3. If the aim is to build numbers you want to choose the singles that have the largest appeal. Think of the singles as a shop window, you put all the latest in season stuff in the window and the rare or more unique finds you discover when you delve further into the shop, That’s the same with your music release. Lead with what you think has most appeal, get people in then they can delve into your experimental obscure 7 minute rhapsody or the funny skits you added for context.
Pick the release date for each single and allow at least four weeks between releases
Choose the order – This is important but works differently depending on the artist and depending on the project. If you have a lot of single worthy material on the project you may want to lead up to your biggest track. Alternatively you may want to release your biggest track second so you can gain a peak in interest where you can run your project messaging to. You may also want to come out the gate swinging and put your favourite most marketable track first starting as you mean to go on. When it comes to decisions like this we believe as the artist you should know and understand your aims and intentions enough to make the right calls when it comes to how you are presenting your art to the world. It is important to carefully consider these decisions but it is equally important to not get weighed down in this process. Use as much information as you have about your audience and their likes and dislikes.
You should also factor in your resources and marketing materials, for example one of the tracks may have a music video or you may be intending to shoot one. Make sure your order aligns with your content plans to avoid having to rush or move deadlines.
Here’s the wonderful thing about this strategy, with each new single released, the previous single is added to the same entity on Spotify, thus forming a multi-track project one song at a time.
Building and retaining an audience, with each release you run your chosen campaign. From each of your single campaigns you will retain an audience, who in turn will listen to your other tracks. You run another campaign on the next single, now you have the audience you started with and the audience you retained from single one.
After a single two drops, you run another individual campaign. When the campaign ends you retain some audience, the audience you maintain is now added to your existing audience (which is now made up of your original audience, campaign 1 retention and campaign 2 retention).
So now your audience is much larger than it was to begin with but the time you get to single three even more people will hear this track and for everyone who has stayed the whole length of the strategy is now officially a fan.
Each campaign – especially if playlisting is involved – you will see an influx of listeners however, this is not the numbers we should be concerned with. We want to know how many people are saving and adding to playlists, how many of the listeners that come for new music are staying and getting into your existing catalogue or listening to another song by you.
You can also do this with more than just 3 singles, it may depend on the project length you might want to list every song individually. Again, trust your instincts.
Sometimes artists use this strategy without necessarily having an EP or album to release later. This can also work, it just depends on your audience.
When you have begun building an engaged audience who seek out your content, a good project is always well received.
This strategy keeps you active which helps keep your audience engaged. It is also a great opportunity to create multiple pieces of content pre and post release which will help your social media content plans.
Back To Xander
In the case of our case study Xander. He decided to release three singles.
Single one will have a lyric video and a playlist campaign, single two will have a lyric video, a playlist campaign and social media ads, single three will have a lyric video, a music video, playlisting, ads and radio plugging.
Xander has chosen three singles as it is exactly half of the project, the project has a variety of moods so he picks three different tracks from different ends of the emotional spectrum to showcase the variety.
One track is slow, deep and meaningful with great lyrics, Xander uses this first as he plans on using a lyric video as promotion and he thinks he could really draw people in. He decides a mid temp revenge song will be the second single, it has more energy and a very quotable line it follows on nicely from the first single shows consistency in lyricism whilst simultaneously demonstrating versatility.
The last song is upbeat and Xander thinks this song is the one that deserves a full music video. As Xander has limited budget he is unable to create all videos for all three, so he focuses on one outstanding video and utilises budget for ads on the other tracks. This helps him still roll out the strategy without drowning in content creation costs. Although the plan is to get continuous refreshes on the original single Xander is hoping that getting bigger with the campaigns will enhance the results and show progression to his new audience.
Important Details About the Waterfall Strategy
The order of the songs in this strategy will allow the first single released (Single 1) to have a greater exponential growth of streams. As each time you release a successive single the first single will appear at the very top every time you release a new track. It’s like re-releasing your original single with each successive release. This happens most of the time, but of course, your other singles could end up generating more streams than single A.
Note: Three standalone singles will not generate the same results as a waterfall method
⚠️ Important: The best possible results come from adding singles and building up the audience.
Upload tip: Be sure to fill in the same data (ISRC and audio file) for each track when uploading singles to Spotify.
How Do I Upload My Singles and Project?
The technical part is very simple, you just have to choose ‘single’ as output format and add the file of your new single as well as the one of the previous one. You have to be careful to use the same file, the same ISRC code, title, and contributors to get the streams.
Some tips to avoid technical problems:
- Pay attention to the order of the tracks: it is not possible to change it once distributed (you will have to re-distribute with another UPC code and make a swap in case of error).
- Be careful not to use the same title for the singles (there is always a title for the release and a title for the tracks), otherwise only one version will be visible in your discography (even if the number of tracks is different).
- Always use a different UPC code to differentiate the releases, but the same ISRC to identify the songs.
Make The Most of The Waterfall Project
To optimise this release strategy, you must be very intentional and specific with each single release paying close attention to the methods you use with each single and the focus:
- Create a piece of visual content for each single release that could be a live video, a music video, a visualiser or a lyric video.
- If there are any features on the project consider releasing that as on of the single to cross pollinate the fanbase of you and the feature artist.
- Run paid ads directing traffic to where you want your audience to listen.
- Optimise your Spotify profile with a canvas and lyrics
- Run playlisting and PR for each single to help momentum build in other areas alongside your distribution platforms.
Digital music consumption is here to stay and we want you to survive, this method can really help activate artists in the algorithm and assist you in your progress. If you have an amazing project ready to start building a real engaged fanbase and experience growth release to release then this is the strategy for you.
Spotify is the most accessible and used platform and this strategy is very spotify focused. Feeding the machine constantly may not be plausible for some artists, however to achieve success in this area it is a very important factor to bear in mind.
No time was ever wasted being prepared. Plan as if your life depended on it and sit back and admire the results. Nothing feels better than smashing targets, and checking items off your list. Understanding the intricacies of each platform, your strategy and your audience will allow for continual growth and evolving success rates.
Remix / Reworks
What is This Method?
Releasing multiple versions of the same song in different styles to build audience, awareness of the song and brand awareness.
When Can I Use This Method?
You can use this method on any angle release so long as you have the collaborators or resources to create a remix (make sure you have stems).
How Long Does The Strategy Run For?
This can vary and depend upon how many remixes you have. However typically, if you have more than one remix, you leave the standard 4-6 between release 1 and 2 and then subsequent remixes you can release as frequently as two weeks following on from your first remix drop.
What are The Benefits of This Strategy?
This method maximises the reach of one single but positions it to different audiences. The remix strategy is a great way to show your diversity as an artist. It is also a great way of showcasing your work in different contexts. Allowing people to hear your work in different contexts gives a listener additional chances to find elements of the song which they enjoy. A song for example may be written as a ballad with deep meaningful lyrics, these lyrics can be just as impactful on a dance beat. Giving the track a new lease of life in a different genre allows your lyrical content to reach more people by presenting the lyrics in a way which will resonate more effectively.
It is less exhausting on your time and resources especially if you are reworking the original recording. It means you only need to do the recording part once and remixed versions can be created and edited. Depending on how you go about obtaining the remixes, you may even find that you don’t have to do anything additional yourself.
This method allows you to maximise your audience from just one track, repackaging you for different audiences giving each listener a tailored and unique experience of your music related directly to their particular taste.
Allows you to build superfans by finding crossover areas where a singular listener will like multiple variations of the same song. This is a strong indicator that your music particularly resonates with that listener and you will likely begin to see a higher level of engagement from them. Because this is a very unique way of experiencing a song it can lead to you solidifying fan relationships in a shorter period of time than you would with other methods.
This method allows you to diversify your usual audience and establish your skillset in a genre outside of the one you have a natural inclination towards. This strategy is also great for your own musical discovery. Learning new areas where your sound works well gives you a unique opportunity to place your sound outside of where you naturally hear it. You may very well find you discover that you like your sound blended with a certain style or genre. It could lead to you attempting something new and open you up to a new avenue of musical exploration which benefits you greatly as a creative.
Implementing a Remix Strategy
Planning of this strategy looks different, you will need to organise the various remixes.
Whether that is by running competitions, sending stems to people you know, getting a new version with a feature added.
There are so many ways you can go about remixing or reworking a song. Organise the deadlines surrounding the completion of the remix first especially if you are relying on someone else, and especially if it isn’t someone you have worked with before. Hold ups to the remix can cause a strategy to fall apart and therefore the organisation of the creation is crucial in this strategy. Ensuring you have all elements prior to the release of the original is a must.
Explanation of a Remix Strategy
First let us give this strategy some context. As we know music consumption habits have changed and the life span of a song is a lot shorter than it used to be. It means that a song can do very well for a really short period of time and more often than not fall off the radar when the next popular track comes along. If you are putting a lot of effort into a single that is meaningful to you and it starts to do well, the last thing you want as the artist is for the interest and love for the track to be short-lived. This strategy really works for you to add extra longevity to the single and get the most out of the release.
Begin with the original interaction, again, there are instances where a remix may come out before an original but that is rare. Plan the single release and factor in all the elements you usually would to promote your single (see marketing module for detail).
This strategy works both ways – a good original can direct attention to a remix. But if for example a well known DJ creates a remix of your song you may find that the traction from their fanbase drives more traffic to your platforms. So when it comes to where you place your marketing efforts, think carefully about where you want to place your budget.
The wonderful thing is if you have a track that works well for remixing you can continue releasing remixes and give even more life to the single. This strategy also works very well on social media, in particular TikTok.
The main objectives of utilising this strategy is to give longevity to the single which means you can maximise the impact of one single. Diversify and broaden your audience off just one song. Give your listener numbers a boost without having to go through multiple different songs saving you more content for other periods.
The remix doesn’t have to be by someone else, maybe it’s a live version with a band or an acoustic version.
Xander has recorded a new single. He’s not planning on releasing a project for a while. He doesn’t want it to just last for four weeks because he really thinks the song has potential. Xander decides that he wants to release two additional versions and have the single as a bundle but drop them separately to maximise the longevity of the campaign. He enlists the help of his friend who is a house DJ and creates a house remix of the song. He also records his own acoustic version of the song. He plans to release the original version first.
The acoustic version second and the house remix last. He plans on releasing a video for the house remix and getting all his friends in the video and then releasing lyric videos for the other two and starting a campaign on social media whereby he previews the songs in all three styles to his audience, getting them to decide which they prefer.
He plans on running each release phase for six weeks making the total running length of this campaign 18 weeks. The core elements of this strategy rely on him and the remix artists heavily collaborating on social media as well as fans getting involved to debate over which version they like the best.
Important Details About The Remix Strategy
It is important to make sure all your releases are labelled correctly to maximise the effects, be sure to name the remix artists and features you may have added, and where relevant the genre (E.g Away – House Remix). Be sure to plan each release as you explained in the waterfall method.
Remember to circle back to previous releases and any associated promotional material – reference back to the origins in all new bursts of marketing from the remixed releases. Be sure to remember and refer back to your objective to ensure understanding of the end goal. Not every artist’s journey looks the same and success doesn’t mean the same thing every release.
For example, If your main objective is diversifying your fanbase the remix may only do the same number of streams as the original, but if you reached a new demographic then you would have achieved your aim. It is important to understand the various phases in the life cycle of your career as this will guide you as to where to invest the bulk of your efforts.
Technical Tip: How’s It Done?
Follow the same method as the waterfall strategy for each remix.
In today’s content driven market, a good visual stands out as well as a good song. Therefore, visuals are always important to any release. Alongside the release strategy, you want to think very carefully about the type of content that you have to accompany the video. And therefore, depending on what budget you have to work with, that might mean making crucial decisions about which songs to shoot visuals for which songs to run ads for. Choose wisely. For example, if you have a remix with a lot of collaborators it may be better to run ads for that as the more people on the song, the more reach the song is going to have. So using ads to boost that is going to further boost the effect of the ad where by placing the emphasis on the original may mean that you only get one audience. Think carefully to maximise your budgets. Think carefully to maximise the effectiveness of the strategy as all of these things count towards the end result.
With that being said, also choose collaborators wisely. Sometimes it’s tempting for an up and coming artist to pay a larger artist with a greater following for a feature however, that can often prove detrimental to an emerging artist when the listeners eventually drop once the song is out of its released period. If the user’s next release doesn’t generate the same amount of interest, it may also be difficult for external parties to make an accurate access assessment on what the artist’s true capabilities are. Features can help boost audience profiles features can help boost listening numbers and features can help you grow a social media following but as with anything in the industry, when you’re emerging on an emerging artist, it is trial and error. And so whilst it’s one of the ways is not the only way and it is by no means a guaranteed way. If it works in your favour, it can be amazing. However, if it works against you it can really harm your stats.
So when choosing collaborators it’s important to choose someone you truly enjoy working with because the passion, fun and energy transferred from a collaboration is really what gets the fans from both sides invested into the piece of music and it’s what opens your music to new audiences. Be realistic, look at where you are, look at where the other person is, and make sure it seems like a realistic and natural thing to happen unless you have access to big collaboration that you know is linked to massive opportunity. If you are paying for a feature, or have an opportunity to get a feature by another method, potentially don’t necessarily rush to release that song to grow your numbers first. It’s all about the long term. Strategy and seeing where you place yourself in the future, not about instant gratification.
Lastly, make sure that with all the great work you’ve done on your metadata of tagging writers, tagging artists, making sure that all of this information comes together, align it with your social strategy. Make sure you’re tagging your entire team every single time, make the people you’ve worked with and have worked with you on it feel as involved as possible because it will motivate and encourage them to also share the single the more sharing from the more different sources the better it is for you in the algorithm and the better it is for your visibility which should always be part of the goal even if it isn’t the main one.
To conclude, this strategy is great for emerging artists who are looking to diversify their fan base and maximise the potential of one single release. It means you’re able to make one release or go a lot further and the rollout lasts a lot longer. You can also tap into the audience of the remix artists and expose yourself to potential new markets.
Remix strategies are a great way to collaborate with other artists as well. Whilst you benefit from the collaboration, the remix artist benefits also. Is a great way of building your own personal network and creating valuable relationships which you can always come back to in the future.
This strategy gives you the most bang for your buck if you budget. You get to maximise the potential of the individual single in terms of streams, social media content and potential longevity of the song. Whilst the average single released campaign may only roll for four to six weeks, a remix strategy can roll anywhere from 12 to 16.
Depending on how involved your collaborator is, you can really ramp up the potential reach of a single on socials. If you create a solid strategy for your collaborator to follow making it easier for them, you can double the efforts of the campaign. Rather than having someone who’s only going to post about it once or twice because it’s not their own single, by providing the remixer with additional materials for marketing and social media, as well as tagging them in all the content you are going to expand your reach. You’re also going to enthuse the other artists and strengthen and encourage the relationship that you’re building with them all round.
This strategy is great for a debut, because it can help you show diversity as an artist and it’s also good for someone who’s got a few songs under their belt but maybe wants to switch up their sound and style a little bit, experiment without committing to anything. Or for artists who want to switch up their style and sound because they know that there’s another sound that their fans heavily resonate with. This is a real insight driven way of driving new people to your music, and hopefully finding more crossover with different fan bases and audiences.
The Experience Method
What is This Method?
The live experience method it’s a great strategy that is so versatile and can be used in a bunch of ways but in this particular instance, we’re talking in relation to releases. This strategy will be used once you have picked the songs for your release and have it uploaded to pre save. You will create a live exclusive experience for small groups to hear the project from start to finish. You will then use these sessions to network with your audience and build stronger fan relationships, to encourage their online participation in the marketing of the release. You can take this a step further by using these sessions as focus groups and help to guide decisions around visuals.
When Can I Use This Method?
Using this method on your debut release is risky as a live experience for an artist who is unknown to the public would be very difficult to market. However, if you had a decent sized budget and a great social strategy, it is a very bold and impactful thing to do as a new artist and it is also something that would be incredibly beneficial in your fan base building. That being said, budget is a considerable factor as to whether or not to use this strategy for a debut release.
If you have a release or two under your belt, single or even a project then this strategy is the perfect fun exercise to meet new and existing fans as well as get some incredible online results. You should have some gauge of your audience from your initial release and therefore be able to understand where you’re marketing and who you’re marketing to. Armed with this information you can then decide what experience suits what location or audience the best. It could be a listening party, it could be a live performance or a viewing party. The variety of experience you provide is entirely dependent on you and your audience. But what you gain from these experiences is a closer relationship with your fans. A gauge on what songs people like and how that compares to your opinions or what you’ve chosen as singles and a steer on where you may want to focus the advertising budget. I’ll explain how later.
Established artists with a larger fan base! Looking for a way to connect with fans more personally and make them feel a part of the process and the journey then this method is also fantastic for you to use. If you’ve got fans you’ve got data. You’ve also got the potential to build super fans and sell merchandise. For you not only is it a useful strategy it’s also something that you can generate revenue from.
This method is best used on a project rather than a single ad. It is an awful lot of effort and budget to put into one song and therefore having more songs to promote at the same time would maximise the effort. This also could go along with a merchandise sales plan. In person experiences are a great opportunity to sell merchandise.
If you are choosing to perform the songs live it is great practice. If you plan to tour the project even better. This is an opportunity to get your audience involved in whatever you have going on for you but gaining their support through giving them your time.
When choosing this method, consider your overall artistry goals.If consistency and regularity is one of them, this may not be the method for you. You are looking to put aside at least nine months if not an entire year to dedicate to rolling out this kind of strategy. And you’re looking at a long rollout on release time. You may be able to put a single out either side of the strategy but really if you are going to use this strategy you need to fully commit to it and it will take time and a lot of planning.
How Long Does This Strategy Run For?
This strategy is very budget and resource reliant. But we would advise leaving a minimum of five months.
- 4 weeks planning
- 4 Weeks prepping
- 15 week rollout (three weeks per event)
- 2 Weeks Post event promo and presave push
- Release rollout 12 weeks
What Are The Benefits of This Strategy?
If you want to build strong fan relationships, this is the method for you. There is nothing more personal than a pre-release exclusive in person event experience with an artist that you are either starting to love or already love. Including them as part of this experience is going to help steer you towards what your core audience likes and desires. You’re also taking a chance to really thank the people who have supported you, as well as bringing in any new people who might be intrigued and wanting to support it. This is an opportunity for you to nurture and build relationships. Understand who your fans are, understand what the best ways to contact them are, understand what their thoughts are, what they think the strongest songs are, what songs they like the most, what the songs mean to them, we would go on but I think you get where we are going with this. Find out what they like about your previous music. You use this as an opportunity to get to know them and to get to know what they like about you and use it as an opportunity to give them your time as a way of thanking them for supporting your journey.
If you have any merch attached to your project, this is the time to sell, sell. You are up close and in person, convincing people to support you, showing them why you’re such an incredible artist and showing them why you deserve their support. It makes sense that while they are in the height of that experience and feeling, directly in a room with you you can tell them the additional ways they can support you. This could be purchasing your merchandise, purchasing a physical copy of the project or if you’ve got live shows coming up. If you’re not performing live at the experience or even if you are performing live at the experience but your live show comes across differently than it does in this setting. This is the chance to sell tickets, let them know when it is, get them to put it in their diaries as a reminder if they can’t buy tickets there and then. This is your opportunity to capture their data and remind them when you have things coming up and remind them of the experience by all the things you capture of the night. This is another way that you can build really strong family relationships, as well as develop how you communicate with your fans via your mailing list and how personal it feels.
Gauging where to place your marketing budget. We’ve mentioned it a few times before but now let us explain. When you see an audience response to your music live, and you see what songs they really connect with, what songs make them move, what songs make them react emotionally, what songs they connect with lyrics of – this all helps you understand when you’re spending your advertising budget, where to place it. What songs do your audience resonate with, your singles choices might be a completely different set of songs than the ones that your audience really loves. You might be surprised. You could even go as far as to hand out questionnaires and gauge their responses to certain elements so that you could really start to steer the rollout.
Note: it’s essential that they hear the songs as close to that original format for them to resonate with it digitally. And that’s something to bear in mind if you are going to add the live performance element, but you can really use this information to gauge using the small crowds as almost a focus group. You could even go as far as to hand out questionnaires and gauge their responses to certain elements so that you could really start strong once the project has dropped.
When an artist knows how to articulate their vision for a project, it is essential and beneficial to any release. Understanding the artist’s perspective and getting into the mind of the artist when they were writing the song helps people to peel away at the layers of what a song truly means.The take a break for thinking of what it means to them and start tapping into what a song means to you. They buy into your interest. It adds insight to your world, your perspectives, as well as connecting it to their world, their insights, their perspectives. This is where we really start to break down the barriers between fans and artists and start bringing them almost into the studio with you.
Implementing a Live Experience Strategy
The fundamental building block of the experience strategy is planning. You need to plan the events surrounding the pre-release as well as the actual release day and what online promotional activity is carried out surrounding the release. So, you would start with your plan, booking venues, choosing the format of the show, is it going to be a listening experience? Is it going to be a live experience? How many people are going to be allowed to each experience? Find your venues and figure out whatever costs are associated with each of these events and make sure that you have the correct equipment to facilitate each one.
Then you are going to either upload tickets to a ticketing website or send out an RSVP link for people to RSVP that they are coming to the event.
If you want to work with sponsors, you may need to factor for even more time to secure sponsors, get them on board and work out what it is you will be doing in return for that.
Once you have planned these events and you know when your presale is going live, you’re then able to go live on your pre saved date with the first of the series of events. You want to allow a week before the event to promote the event, the week of the event is going to be happening to lead up and count down to it and a week after the event to recap and talk about what happened.
This will be for each event and afterwards you’ll take the content that you generate at the event and post it on social media encouraging people to tag themselves and interact with it. Following on from this series of events will be the official release of the entire project. This is where everyone who has attended the shows and has pre saved the project will be able to listen to it in full. Effectively this is your regular release day as with any other strategy. So if there is a lead single or a visual now will be a good day to release. You’re going to want to run this release strategy for as long as possible. So once your initial phase of the pre save and event is over, the release strategy will follow shortly afterwards and will be an additional 6 to 12 weeks. Once you have released the project in full it is time to circle back to everyone who came to see you in your intimate experience. It’s time to speak with the people who interacted with you. It’s time to hear what they think of the recorded version of the project and most importantly, it’s time for them to share. This is also where you can circle back on their parts of the experience. Really remind them of what good time they had in person with you. Bring it to the forefront of their memory and then hit them with the messaging of wherever you are in your strategy, whether that be liking a video saving a piece of content or listening and streaming something.
Example of a Live Experience Strategy
Xander is on his second release, this time it’s a project. He wants a special way of showcasing the project ahead of a presave strategy. He will showcase the project in a series of listening parties and get the audience to presave and by merch. He is hoping to really get to know his audience, personally and talk to them about the project. He wants for his fans to really understand the meaning behind each of the songs and so he wants to talk them through the project so they experience the project as he envisions it. He plans or recording each of the sessions and releasing the footage as part of the digital campaign alongside other assets.
Important Details of the Live Experience Strategy
Planning is essential for this method. Sticking to deadlines, quick turnarounds and a regimented schedule are essential to the success and completion of a successful rollout.
Music has to be ready, this isn’t a road test for unfinished material, this is a preview of an imminent release. Attention to detail and care for audience experience will push this to the next level.
Technical Tip: How is it Done?
This part depends on how you intend to release the project. One thing that won’t change though is the pre-save part. That will always be present whether you use the waterfall method or not. Pre save is when you set a date where listeners can save the project and another date for when they can actually listen. Everyone who pre saves is notified when the track goes live and all of the presaves count towards your first day streams.
As with all the strategies there are many things you can do to support your release strategy. Including adopting the waterfall method to make the release last even longer. Integrating multiple agendas within this strategy can work well as you can optimise a few different marketing areas when you channel your in person time with your audience. Be clever and look at areas to maximise effectiveness and other agendas.
If you are looking for a strategy that puts the fans first, then look no further. This is the method where you get up close and personal. This is great for really building fan relationships as well as driving interest to a new release. Be careful though this isn’t the ideal strategy if your focus is on consistency as it is very time consuming. It will probably mean that you don’t release a lot of other music in the time frame. Be cautious if using this as a debut as promoting a live event is very difficult without existing fans. Resource, team and budget factor heavily into this plan, so if you’re a small team with a small budget this isn’t the way to go. Planning is another major focus of this strategy as pulling an event together of any scale, let alone multiple is a very difficult task. You need to pay real attention to detail to make a worthwhile experience. However, with the correct execution this strategy can be an amazing launch pad for new engagements and results.
The Social First Method
What is This Method?
As the title suggests with this strategy you release your music to social media first, create a buzz and demand and then follow with DSP and visual release. This method is very Instagram and TikTok based so if you aren’t active on those platforms this may not be the strategy for you – This also works well as an integrated part of the remix strategy.
When Can I Use This Method?
You can use this strategy for any kind of release but be prepared to be super active on social media. This is a content driven strategy and therefore your marketing plan has to be super tight.
How Long Does This Strategy Run For?
Between 12 and 16 weeks, extra weeks are added to the standard formula to allow for social media release.
What Are The Benefits of This Strategy?
If you are looking to establish yourself on social media then this method is for you. This is a content led social media focused strategy where you get to push your sound to the masses and on IG before it is released anywhere else. Familiarising yourself with your audience through your send is a very good way to introduce yourself to your prospective market.
This method wont have you posting begging fans to listen on DSP’s. If this strategy is rolled out correctly then by the time you drop your song to DSP’s you will have your audience begging for a full version. Using pre save as a way of gauging the success of the buzz building stage.
As this method is based on social media, this is a massive benefit to any social media presence you may have. During the time you roll out this strategy your socials will be super active, you may even be doing some influencer campaign work. Whatever the case visibility and social proof will be building
We love a strategy inside a strategy and this is a release’s best friend as it can slot so well into other wider strategies. If you were looking to create a super big picture plan, using this method alongside the remix strategy or the waterfall method is key.
Now we know that social media has become somewhat mundane and repetitive. Some days it feels like you are watching a million variations of the same piece of content over and over again. Well, now’s your chance to think outside the box, go against the grain and get creative. In order for you sound to stand you have to be at the root of some pretty eye-catching, attention grabbing content. Making your campaign stand out in an ocean of content is the major task here and only you and your team can come up with the exciting idea that will spark copy cat videos and sound usage.
Implementing a Social First Strategy
We will start where we have for all our releases a plan, again planning is very essential to this method. This time it is your content planner that will take centre stage. You will need to come up with an exciting content plan. It is like you will need to arrange filming as well as enlisting the help of others. You want to create content that is easy to recreate, simple to create, fun, interesting or emotive to watch. Decide on these factors at the very beginning and the rest of this strategy flows quite freely.
Next we do our social media rollout. This is exactly as you would think you release the song on instagram and tik tok and then begin your content strategy for the sound usage. You can either release the sound through your distributor direct socials or you can create content upload and be credited as the origin of the sound. Direct people to reuse, view etc through captions in video and in the caption on the platform. You can communicate directly to your audience the specific action you require them to take. Which is why it helps if the initial interaction point is something simple to recreate. The more copies you can achieve the more likely it is that audience members will begin to put their own unique spin on the content style.
During rollout create milestone based incentives that will make elements of the release available if an audience member completes a certain action e.g “500 likes and I will release a video teaser”.
Alongside the rollout run a pre save campaign for Spotify. This allows you to utilise the audience you are gathering on social media and direct them to the song. Supplying once there is a demand.
Release your song to the DSP’s and remarket to the audience you gain from phase 1 of the strategy.
Objective: The main objectives are to build a social media presence around your artist brand and the release. By running the release on social first you will simultaneously be driving traffic to your own pages expanding your reach and engagement whilst promoting a new song.
The next objective is to create demand by putting the song in front of the audience before it’s available to increase the likelihood of higher streaming figures.
Example of a Social First Strategy
Xander has a new single ready to drop. The song is very catchy and is perfect for social media. Xander identifies what markets on social media he wants to explore. He decides as the song is about taking a trip and escaping from your day to day, travel content would be ideal. So he sends about finding a way to get the song featured in as many travel TikToks and IG Reels he can get it on. He also posts the song every single day with different CTA’S to different audience groups. Once he has collected a group of TikTok users to assist him as he rolls out the strategy and promotes the singles pre save link. When this phase ends they enter release mode and Xander goes back to social to thank the audience for making the sound popular and for using it in videos.
Important Details of the Social First Strategy
Be prepared for a lot of social media and we mean a lot! This method is all about finding what works on social and double down on it when it goes well to drive more activity for your release. So it goes without saying be prepared to make loads of content and be constantly thinking of new content ideas. Get creative with this one. Be bold, no idea is too silly or too out there. You really just have to go for it.
Be prepared to be flexible. As this is a trial and error based method, be prepared to pivot and change your rollout. If a particular type of content is working, or a particular backdrop gets the most views then you may want to consider making more content similar, where you had planned to move onto something else. Be open and ready to change direction and follow where the buzz takes the release.
You can plan to be flexible. Don’t just leave it all to trial and error, create variations of your rollout and variations of content. Be prepared for it not all to get used or for some to be archived for a later date. Be as prepared as possible so you can make adjustments to the roll out with ease.
Each piece of content you drop will give a segment of the song attached to drive engagement. Choose this preview segment wisely. On TikTok and IG in particular you can only upload a limited selection of the song. Choose lyrics and parts of the song that stand out to get the most engagement. Think relatable and caption worthy. If you are working with just a beat, think of where there are exciting changes and interesting sounds.
Technical Tip: How is it Done?
There are two ways to do this.
- Upload as normal via your distributor but only select socials as stores. Then upload again this time selecting pre save – this time leave out the social media platforms and only include DSP’s
- Create a visual and use the part of the song you wish as the background noise. When uploaded to social media you will be credited as the original sound. Before uploading you can edit the sound name to the track title and your artist name. Upload to DSP’s for presave. When the song comes out the original audio should automatically link to the release and any content you have released will be added to the uploads page for the actual sound.
This strategy is heavily content focused. But do not forget you want to maintain momentum so plan the single release as you would any other and include all the elements mentioned in the marketing module.
This strategy is an all rounder. Helping you to build brand presence, social proof, and drive streams. This is a long game so you need to be patient and if you aren’t fond of social media posting you may find this one a bit of hard work. If you have a small following this will be a lot of effort. Whilst you can do this organically, having some ad spend for social ads will be massively beneficial here. This will support your content strategy and organic efforts helping you gain more visibility and more engagement. This is a longer game and to begin with requires gradual building. This strategy is great for content creators or artists with strong visual and social media teams.
- Pick three release strategies that suit your release plans best
- Write a short paragraph summary of each of the methods you have chosen to show your understanding of the concepts.
- Narrow down the three to the one you will use. Using the template plan your chosen strategies template plan you release.
- Submit via email for a review.