How To Release & Promote Your Music In The Digital Age

Here is a checklist I go through upon each and every album we release here on Santa Rosa Records. I hope this may be of help to some of you indie artists out there — wherever you are.

Distrokid is a great distribution service, as is The Orchard. Honestly, it really all depends on you, and what you want from your distribution service. Or, perhaps get signed to an indie label so that you can focus more of your time and energy on what matters most — your music!

  • Once you’ve submitted your album to the plethora of digital platforms via a distribution service or indie label, the work begins!

  • Submit to Spotify and Filtr playlists. We’ve not had a lot of success getting added to Spotify’s curated playlists, but have had a ton of success getting added to personal playlists, from fans to bloggers. Reach out, you may be surprised.
  • Submit album for release on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, YouTube, and Discogs.

  • Plan live release show — or perhaps go live on YouTube or Instagram on the day of release. Just do something. A social media post at the very least.

  • The days following the release — periodically send indie music blogs and radio stations your favorite couple tracks off the album. Personally, I wouldn’t try to email more than 25 at a time — your chances of getting flagged greatly increase if you try and mass email many more than this. Also, remember to utilize the BBC for mass mailing blogs and radio. Keep it classy my friends.

  • SubmitHub is a pretty nifty music blog submission service — we’ve been pretty happy with the platform so far. They make the whole music blog submission process pretty easy — although not always painless.

  • Post about album on your website (if you have one) and all of your social media platforms — for weeks. No, make that months — or until your next release.

  • Releasing your album physically can also stimulate sales and help solidify reputation. People crave the nostalgia of cassette tapes and vinyl records. In fact, both mediums have been increasing in popularity in recent years. You can’t go wrong with either IMHO. However, I’d steer clear of CDs for the time being. They seem to have really stagnated among listeners as of late.

  • Promoting your music on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Spotify is never a bad idea. You just need to have the cash. We usually spend around $25-$50 per release on promoted posts, and have driven some decent traffic as a result. But again, the quality of the post and your targeted audience is very important. Spend wisely.

  • Post your favorite tracks to applicable subreddits. The Reddit community is very active and growing at a rapid pace. They’re THE forum of the internet. Remember to format your posts correctly. Note that highly upvoted and posts with lots of comments really help drive listeners to your tracks’ YouTube, Soundcloud or Spotify.
  • A music video for a particular track, or set of tracks is also never a bad idea. Release it on YouTube — and wherever else you’re able to reach viewers. YouTube is a whole nother animal of untapped potential. I predict we have only seen the tip of this megalithic iceberg of visuals.

Closing thoughts

Collaborating with other artists is the name of the game. Not only will they add something to your project, but come release day, they will help you promote because they have skin in the game. And don’t just collaborate with one artist on an album. Collaborate with three, four, five, or more. I’ve learned this the hard way unfortunately. But it’s never too late to learn.

Note: I will update this post regularly as new technologies and modes of music promotion emerge. Let us know in the comments below if you have any other ideas!

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Charles Johnson

Independent journalist from Far West Texas.

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