FAQ album release
You have to deal with many things when releasing an album. Are you working with a record company, for example, or are you self-releasing your album? In classical music it usually starts with a label and a contract, in pop music DIY is much more common.
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Putting together a team
Your recordings and artwork are ready and you have a rough idea when your music should be released. Or you have developed a concept for your music and you are looking for a label. Send your music to record companies, agents/bookers, publishers and distributors to investigate who would like to help you release your album. You schedule meetings with them, gather information about working methods and see who would be a good match. If you get no for an answer after a few attempts, you can enter into discussion with freelancers, who can help you with making a release schedule and the promotion of your music for a fee. If you do not manage to find external partners, set to work yourself and divide the tasks among yourselves within the band or ensemble.
Making a release schedule yourself
In this schedule, you should consider all kinds of variables, such as holiday periods and public holidays. This is because around December, for example, lots of people listen to Christmas music and go on holiday. In January, people spend less money after the holiday season. Would you like your album to end up in someone’s shoe around the time of Sinterklaas on 5 December or in someone’s stocking for Christmas? In that case, your album must be in the shops around the end of October. In addition, you should consider the fact that festivals do their programming in the period from September to March. And don’t forget payment dates: student grants and loans, and salaries are usually paid on the 24th of the month.
Start planning the release date
Once you have determined this date, you start counting backwards on the basis of deadlines that you set yourself. What your schedule looks like precisely also depends on the form in which the album will be released and/or if you want to release a few singles first. Your schedule should also include, for example, the time that a presser needs to produce a physical product. (Vinyl can have a delivery time of up to 4 months!) All things considered, the process from a mastered album to release can take anything from a few months to a year, depending on the strategy.
Promoting your own album release
About six weeks before your release, you should start approaching the press. Most newspapers and magazines work with tight deadlines and if you miss those, your chance of getting a nice review or a cool interview is gone. You can approach blogs a little bit closer to your release. Make sure that you have a good presence on social media and start interacting with your fanbase.
Electronic Press Kit
Make sure, in any case, that you have a good up-to-date biography and new press photos in your Electronic Press Kit (EPK). Possibly add some quotes from the music industry too. Ask that one label boss who gave you good feedback, for example, if you can use a quote from him or her.
If you have recorded a video clip, see whether you can arrange a premiere for this somewhere, for example on a blog that is geared towards your target audience. In addition to that, try to increase the attention for your album by placing extra content. Examples may include short videos, bonus tracks, live recordings, etc.
Finally, look for a plugger who can bring your music to the attention of TV channels and radio stations. Prepare for these press moments well, when it will be about more than just your music. Think about your artist statement and your ‘story’.
You can arrange your distribution yourself, but see whether you can collaborate with a distributor or a record label too. Make sure that the digital distribution is arranged properly. There are several companies that provide professional digital distribution for artists and labels.