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Ultimate Album Release Plan For Independent Musicians

album release plan

Ultimate Album Release Plan Timeline

Let’s go over some things you should include when starting your album release plan. You don’t have a publicist so you (the manager) are doing it; or you don’t have a manager, so you (the artist) are doing it. There is no one way to doing anything in this industry – and like shoes, one size doesn’t fit all. This release plan below is one suggestion of many.

You only have one chance to release an album – so do it right.

Though in the best-case scenario you have a booking agent and record label to support you through your release, we aren’t going to get into label or agent discussions in this article. But I will say that if you are signed to label, it’s more likely that the timeline below won’t reflect what they will offer you. You’ll more likely start planning your album release a year and a half in advance.

Eternally – Build Your Media List

  • Ask venues for their media lists
  • Search radio stations, newspapers, magazines city by city and collect emails
  • Network
  • For Canadians: search for Polaris Jurors contact info
  • Submit to HARO
  • Search LinkedIn
  • Search social media
  • Attend conferences
  • Search the panelists names of conferences that include media personnel
  • Search the publicists for artists similar to your sound

Entire Production Period – Create Awareness

  • Share pictures, video clips, and rough mixes from the studio

6-12 Months Ahead – Begin the Brainstorming & Cost Sourcing

  • Your tour!! You MUST tour to support the release of the album
  • Plan the release of a full LP – it’s more ideal to release one right off the bat
  • Radio, newspaper and TV interviews/performances in each city of your tour
  • Professional photo shoot dates and concepts
  • Album cover and other album art concepts
  • Physical CD and vinyl production, distribution and storage
  • Digital single release and full digital album release
  • Merchandise design, production, distribution and storage
  • Online sales, pre-sales, free singles, and contests
  • Creative video content (i.e. post teaser videos on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook to announce the coming release)
  • Marketing plan including email blasts, schedule social promotion and other promotions
  • Album release / album listening party

3-4 Months Ahead – Print Media

  • Submit your music and album release plans to long-lead PRINT media such as magazines

4 Months Ahead (Album Release), 1 Month Ahead (Single Release) – Hype Up Digital Single Release and Set Up Single Distribution

  • Release a single first like the pros do – especially if your fans are BEGGING for new music
  • Share a digital poster with release date of single (and release date of LP)
  • Host a count-down, host pre-sales, get creative
  • Use a service like TuneCore (I used TuneCore and have no complaints) to distribute your music to all digital stores and streaming services for you

3-4 Months Ahead – Acquire CD’s and Vinyl

  • Be sure to give yourself a good couple of months lead time on acquiring the physical copies in the case of delays
  • Once you HAVE THEM IN YOUR HANDS, then book your release party
  • IndiePool and Duplium (formerly Music Manufacturing Services) in Canada are good ones for Indie artists doing shorter runs

3-4 Months Ahead – Set Up Distribution

  • Use a service like CD Baby or TuneCore (I used TuneCore and have no complaints) to distribute your music to all digital stores and streaming services for you, as well as source a physical distribution service (TuneCore will only take a few weeks MAX to get your music online – but you can schedule the official release for a later date and host pre-sales)

2-3 Months Ahead – Online Media and Radio

  • Begin sending your music and album release plans to:
    • podcasts, websites, bloggers, and social pages
  • Begin shopping your single to radio stations as soon as you release it
  • Commercial and satellite radio
  • CBC for Canadians

2-3 Months Ahead – Digital Single Release

  • Release the catchiest single to streaming services and iTunes 2 months ahead of your album release date (my suggestion is to do this through TuneCore as mentioned above)
  • Include the date of the full album release if you have it nailed down

1-2 Months Ahead – Hype for Release Party

  • Start putting posters up around town
  • Make it a special event
  • Promote it like hell online
  • Host a count-down
  • Host a contest or giveaways

3 Weeks Ahead – Media & Radio Follow Up

  • If they haven’t already written about you or responded to your notes this might be a good reminder
  • Put them on the guest list and confirm that they will show up to your release party

2 Weeks Ahead – College Radio

  • Mail hard-copy CD’s to all college radio stations at once 2 weeks ahead of the release
    • Note: It’s really important to build relationships with music directors at radio stations that are specific to your genre – they are the ones that will promote your songs and your shows for you when you perform in their city.

Release Date / Release Party – Holy the Day Has Come

  • The day your album releases, sit next to your computer with phone in hand responding to and interacting with your fans and media
  • PLAY LIKE HELL (at your release party – show them what you’re made of)
  • Then, celebrate!

Are you working on an album release right now? Have a successful album release that included plans we didn’t touch on above? Tell us about your experiences and challenges in the comments section below!

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    1. Best of luck Mr Perry! We have a lot of free resources for releasing music. If you haven’t yet make sure you download the 10 free guides available at Cheers!

    1. Hi Don! Your best place to start is by going through all of our free guides and templates right here at Hope this helps!

    1. Definitely performing live and having something physical to sell at those performances (tee’s, CD’s, etc.). It’s a time-consuming grind that you have to be willing to undertake, especially in the beginning. Also, make sure you’re on social media and getting your sound in front of other people. Post cover video clips on Instagram and then go interact with people who might be a fan of your music. Find a few artists that have a similar sound to you and go interact with their followers.

  1. Hello I am a college student looking for some insight into the process of launching an EP/Album. This was a lovely Guide by the way. can you tell me any potential problems during this process ie financial issues? thank you

    looking forward from hearing from you.