Bands and musicians tend to get so excited about their latest work that they can’t wait to release it, which can lead to jumping the gun before the work is ready for public consumption. Patience and planning are key before an album release, for numerous reasons, five of which we have listed here. With a promotional and distribution strategy, those boxes of CDs that just arrived fresh from the factory shouldn’t be taking up space in your basement for too long. If you do things right and the album starts moving, you could be ordering another run sooner than you thought. But, until then, it’s all about patience and planning.
1. Schedule your release party/date months after the shipping date of the CDs.
Many independent acts have been caught the day of their album release party without having any product to sell. Why? Because they couldn’t wait and scheduled the official release too close to the shipping date. Things often go wrong in the shipping and manufacturing process. Make sure you have your CDs in hand long before the release date, to be on the safe side.
2. Set up online distribution well in advance.
Pick an online distributor, fill out the necessary forms and upload your tracks and artwork before your release date, months in advance, if possible. It takes time for things to go live through an online distributor, especially if your music is going onto iTunes and similar places that don’t have unsigned acts at the top of their agendas. You want to be able to say at your release party that your music is available online, not “it will be online soon.”
3. Put a press kit together — digital and hard copy — and begin mailing and e-mailing them out to journalists and music bloggers.
Your press kit should contain a one-sheet that summarizes the entire kit, an expanded bio, clippings, music samples, a high-res photo and contact info on every single item. This is another reason to schedule your release date well after you have the CDs: to give enough notice to journalists and editors, who generally fill out their editorial calendars a couple of months in advance.
4. Make sure your songs are registered in all the right places.
If you’re not a member of a performing rights organization, join one — ASCAP, BMI, SESAC — then register your entire song catalog with them so that if they ever get played on TV, radio, in movies, in public, you get royalties. Register your songs with the Gracenote database. Gracenote allows media players such as iTunes to display info about your release when connected to the internet, otherwise they will come up untitled and without images.
5. Book gigs, lots and lots of gigs.
If you’re not gigging in support of your new album, journalists will be less likely to cover your act and you won’t be gaining new fans or selling your new CD. Like everything else on this list, begin the booking process months ahead of your release.