This comprehensive guide will teach how to release a successful music single in 2024. Discover the best strategies, planning tips, and promotional techniques to maximize your audience and build momentum in today's competitive music streaming ecosystem.
In today’s constantly evolving music landscape, one thing is certain: thousands of artists are competing for the listeners’ attention every day, trying to release high-quality music as frequently as possible to keep audiences engaged and stay relevant in the current music streaming ecosystem.
In the modern music industry, time is of the essence: constantly increasing competition (thanks to affordable tools for music creation and distribution) and constantly decreasing attention spans result in an environment where artists should release good-quality music every six weeks to maximize their audience and build momentum. Since releasing a full album, or even just an EP, every 50 days seems quite impossible, here’s when the importance of releasing a single comes into play.
Singles are a fast and effective way to keep your audience engaged as you prepare for longer releases, and a crucial part of the most effective release strategy these days: the waterfall strategy. This plan of action involves releasing songs regularly to optimize Spotify's algorithm, get into playlists, and gradually expand your audience, and singles are the perfect format to make the most of this strategy. These tracks might end up as bonus tracks in the full album that'll follow, further optimizing your music marketing plan.
Releasing music so frequently might seem like a daunting task, yet with proper planning and consistency, your songs will reach a wider and wider audience, and your artistry will finally get the visibility it deserves.
As we prepare for a new year full of releases and successes, let's take a look at the intricacies of releasing a single, how to do it to achieve optimal results, analyze the best course of action and every step necessary to create a solid promotion strategy.
Planning, planning, planning!
When releasing a series of singles, you need to have a simple, effective, and easy-to-implement strategy that can bring results. Since it’s recommended to release a single song every six weeks or so, I'd suggest a 4-week plan, which will give you ample time for preparation, promotion, follow-up, and post-release assessment.
I’ll just assume that your upcoming singles have already been mixed and mastered properly. If you think they require further adjustments, do not release the songs! Take some time to release music of the highest possible quality.
Start by setting up a project board where you can visualize your release schedule. You can use organizational tools such as Trello or Notion, which offer a visual approach to task management, allowing you to create a checklist, set deadlines, and track progress. This also works great if you have collaborators, whether it’s your label, a marketing agency, or your buddy handling your TikTok account.
Define the single's release date and the announcement date, then flesh out your strategy accordingly. Each week, focus on one aspect, starting from the promotional plan, visual content, promotion, and finally, release. All the while, you should release updates regularly and keep your audience engaged, so make sure your social media strategy is consistent and effective.
Use the first couple of weeks to ensure that your single, cover art and promotional materials are finalized. Use this time to submit your single for distribution to digital streaming services, keeping in mind that stores like Spotify and Apple Music have different lead times for uploading content.
Closer to the release date, intensify your promotional efforts and engage with your audience through social media, email newsletters, and other marketing channels. You can share behind-the-scenes content and stories about the track and share snippets to build anticipation.
Schedule posts across your platforms, and if you want, create a hashtag specifically for the release to monitor engagement and encourage shares. Send out an email blast to your subscribers with a personal note about the single and links to pre-save or pre-order.
Ten days or a week prior to the release, you can host live streams, Q&A sessions, or virtual listening parties to keep the momentum going and reward your most loyal fans.
From the release date onward, it's crucial to monitor your single's performance across all streaming platforms and social media. Use data to thank your fans for their support and to refine your strategy for future releases. Keep refining your strategy until your workflow is fully optimized.
Press release and EPK (electronic press kit)
Press releases are still an invaluable asset to artists, and I’d strongly recommend you spend time creating one that highlights the beauty and uniqueness of your music. Many magazines and music journalists still rely on press releases to gather information quickly and succinctly, so crafting a compelling press release for your single can be the difference between getting featured or ignored.
Press releases should be concise, informative, and engaging, providing all the necessary details about your single without overwhelming the editorial team. Think of a captivating headline, a brief introduction, the story behind your single, release details (it's very important to mention exactly when the single will be out), and where it can be found.
Once ready, distribute the press release to your media list, which should include local and international music journalists, bloggers, and influencers. Make sure you send it out with enough lead time for writers to listen to your music and write their articles, generally about two to three weeks before your release date. Needless to say, you should have an updated list of contacts who have already reviewed your music or who might potentially be interested in your upcoming singles.
Now, about Electronic Press Kits: your EPK should include high-resolution promotional photos, a biography, music samples, music videos, tour dates, contact information, and social media links. For instance, Bandzoogle and similar platforms provide templates that ensure your EPK is not only comprehensive but also aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate.
The secret is to be concise while providing all the important details: is this single part of an upcoming EP? Is this your first song? If so, what's the story behind it and what makes it valuable to their readers/listeners?
The easier you make it for industry professionals to find and use your information, the more likely they are to cover your single, so ensure your EPK is easily shareable, and include a direct link to your EPK in your press release.
Options for music distribution were limited until a few years ago, but now an artist could spend weeks analyzing each single distribution platform to find the one that best suits their needs. I won’t delve into which distribution platform you should go for as it’s beyond the scope of this article; however, I want to define which attributes you should look for when looking for one.
The reliability and depth of the statistics offered by the distributor are crucial. Insights into how your single is performing can guide your promotional efforts, help you understand your audience, and refine your strategy over time. Therefore, you want a distributor that provides detailed analytics on streams, downloads, and revenue.
Your distributor should be a partner in your release process, so make sure you choose one that offers prompt and efficient service and will ensure that your single is available to your audience when you say it will be.
When uploading a track, there are certain details that must be included. For instance, if you're uploading a cover song, you must include all the relevant credits, otherwise your track might end up being removed and you could be sued for copyright infringement.
Visual Assets (artwork, music videos, marketing material)
Even if you’re just planning to release your single digitally, the artwork should resonate with the music and your artistry. Similarly, your music video should tell a story that complements the song and strengthens the listener's connection to your work.
This approach should be consistent throughout all your visual marketing efforts: your promotional materials, which include social media posts, email newsletter graphics, and flyers, need to be in harmony with your overall artist image. Most of all, content should be tailored to different platforms and designed to capture attention quickly.
Short-form videos have become a crucial part of an artist's promotional toolkit, especially with the rise of TikTok. Creating these short, engaging videos that highlight your music and encourage shares can lead to increased visibility as TikTok has become a powerful platform for music discovery.
Unlike your official music video, this short-form content doesn't always have to be polished; often, authenticity and creativity are what make these videos stand out and go viral. Engage with your audience, and encourage people to share videos using your music. Make the most of challenges and trends to maximize your listeners’ pool, and most of all, make it fun!
The Importance of a Pre-Save Campaign
Pre-saves on Spotify allow fans to add your upcoming music to their playlists before the official publication date, creating the buzz and immediate engagement that make Spotify’s algorithm happy.
Furthermore, pre-saves can be a valuable tool for gathering listener data and building your email list. Fans who pre-save your music are showing a high level of interest in your music, so they’re often eager to know more about you and your artistry through newsletters or announcements about tours and merchandise.
Finally, the data collected from pre-save campaigns can help you refine your marketing strategy, allowing you to target the most engaged segments of your audience more effectively.
I can’t think of any other marketing tool more important than playlist pitching these days, so I'd suggest you spend some time understanding how to do it best and how to interact with playlist curators effectively.
The main objective is to get your single featured on playlists that have a strong following, as this can significantly improve your release's visibility and streams. When pitching to playlist curators, whether it's a major streaming service's editorial team or independent curators, it's essential to convey not just the sound of your single but also its story.
Obviously, curators prefer music that fits their playlist's vibe and theme. Start by identifying playlists that align with your music genre, and then craft a personalized pitch for each curator that highlights the qualities of your single that make it a good fit for their playlist.
Be concise and professional in your communication, and provide them with easy access to your track, press release, and EPK for more information. Spotify allows you to pitch music to playlist editors through your Spotify For Artists page, so long as the upcoming album or single has already been uploaded to the platform but not yet released. You can't pitch music from a previous album already available on the platform, unfortunately.
You may also consider submitting your track to playlisting platforms such as SubmitHub. This and other platforms are used by numerous blogs, record labels, radio stations, and playlist curators looking for new music to share.
Radios, Media Outlets, Music Blogs
Let’s not forget traditional outlets like radio and media coverage.
Radios, especially local and genre-specific stations, can help you reach the right audience as it’s still considered by many a trusted source for discovering new music.
Music blogs and websites, on the other hand, provide you with the unique opportunity to tell a story, delve into the creative process behind your single, and reach potential fans in a different, more “personal” way.
Whether you approach radios, music blogs, or both, the key is to deeply understand the platform you are pitching to and tailor your approach accordingly. Make them realize you’re a fan of their work and appreciate what they do. Make sure you’re contacting media outlets in line with your music genre and creative vision, and don’t be afraid to get in touch with them again if they don’t respond within ten days or so.
By making the most of all the tools and strategies discussed above, you can bring to life a comprehensive promotional campaign that’ll value your creative output, satisfy your existing audience, and reach new listeners.
Let me conclude by highlighting the most important aspects of releasing singles in 2024.
The music world is more competitive than ever, yet artists today have all the promotional tools they need to bring to life a successful release, whether it's a digital EP, a single, or a limited edition vinyl.
Testing and adjusting your strategy regularly is crucial, and so is the consistency which will give your audience something to look forward to and take your music career to the next level.
There are plenty of tools you can use to streamline your workflow, but that shouldn’t distract you from creating music that’ll resonate with you and others.
Creativity and effective marketing strategies often don't go hand in hand, so don't be afraid to ask for help or learn from people you trust who're more practical than you. It seems that nowadays we can do everything by ourselves, which is true, but the result might not be what we hoped for.
Release music often, engage with your audience, constantly update your strategy, be creative, and most of all, enjoy the process.
Good luck, and stay creative!