Here it is - Your BIG RELEASE day! And then - *poof” … there it goes. Yup. It’s already tomorrow. It’s already next week. Now, it’s next month. Maybe you had an epic first week?! Or maybe your single, EP or album was released to crickets (or worse than that … microbes. Hey, it happens). Either way - now what?
Or let me ask a better question. Are you in this to win this? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Meaning … maybe you’ve already moved “on to the next,” not realizing or even giving a chance that your most epic win - might have been the last song you’ve already released - even months ago or last year.
The day of release - really - you could just be getting started (assuming that you do have “killer” and not just “filler.”). Yah - I mean - remember all that work you put into making your amazing music and setting up the release, mixing, mastering making the video, hiring the PR (and maybe even then also firing the PR, eh hem - you know who you are), running those Instagram ads, doing all those socials etc ..well it doesn’t stop the day after your music comes out.
You owe it to yourself and your creation to give it the best shot.
On that note, if you're looking for ideas about how to promote your music, I have 50 Post Release Music Marketing Strategies for you to check out (slightly inspired by Jake Udell’s own post “50 Ways to Promote a Single,” which I highly recommend checking out, as well as any post on Jake’s blog, Art of a Manager).
But before we get there - I have three examples (there’s countless I could tell you), where an artist put their art out into the world - maybe it flopped or did just “OK” and only 12 months + later did it really start catching fire.
The Story of Hal Elrod
First, y’all should check out this incredible, life changing book, Miracle Equation by Hal Elrod.
In short - Hal is an amazing author, who you may also know from Miracle Morning, which is also classic. In fact, Miracle Morning is now a bona fide self-published perennial seller, meaning Hal sells about 1 Million books a year (self-published).
On release week - Hal sold 1,000 copies (or so) of Miracle Morning. Not bad!
Hal then subsequently promoted the book for 18 more months - only to see his sales continually plummet. We’re talking like - a handful of book sales every week. Yet, Hal was persistent, did every podcast he could, worked every angle and also importantly was “unattached to the results.”
And this is where most people would have given up, saying to themselves, “I’ve been promoting this for 18 months and I’m only selling 10 books a week - I quit. This is just a bust.” And sometimes - that will be the case … but Hal had his Miracle Equation which is:
It took Hal 18 weeks to get back to selling 1,000 copies a week - and then things just went 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x, 10x, 20x, 100x - you get the idea. Hal’s achievement - is not just a yearly million selling book, but a whole brand and series of books! Grand. Slam. Home. Run.
Or we can look at Lizzo and “Truth Hurts,” one of the biggest #1 hits of 2019. A lot of people don’t realize the song was almost three years old (!) before it caught FIRE. It just needed a little spark and that’s exactly what happened, along with the help of a TikTok viral campaign and a key Netflix synch.
Sometimes you (and your songs) are ahead of its time.
Lastly - One of My Personal Stories
One last personal example is a song I wrote over 17 years ago. (That’s not a typo. 17 years.) As a songwriter, I finally got this one placed by TVXQ, one of the biggest artists in Japan and it went in at #1.
Sometimes things take time. And you can not give up on your best songs. Not only that - your best songs and releases that have the most value - are sometimes the ones you’ve already released (maybe even to underwhelming results).
So, as I’ve mentioned. When it comes to giving yourself and your songs the best chance of success - you are not done, just simply one week after the release!
You may only be just getting started!
You've probably already explored the usual music submission sites and options. So we came up with some "outside the box" ideas to give your music that little extra push.
On that note and ostentatious fanfare - here are:
50 Ideas to Promote Your Music - Post Release
Create and Release Remixes, Acoustic Versions, Chill Versions, Featured Guest Artist versions of your most popular songs. NOTE: This might not just be muting your drums and adding an acoustic guitar. To really do this it likely means a whole other arrangement/recording. Do it! There’s tons of different playlists for every worthwhile version of your song you can think of.
Run a Remix Contest … release the stems from your session to the electronic / remix community.
Upload a Splice Pack of Sounds / Samples used to make your song / album.
Do a Video Tutorial - Behind The Scenes on the components of your songs ala Charlie Puth "Attention" https://youtu.be/IU8BEMi8UyM
Monitor your metrics and see which songs are showing “signs of life.” And “Signs of Life” means - singles that are reacting on with a Spotify with a User / Stream ratio of 3.0 or over. That means that for every 1 user - the song is being listened to 3 times. Meaning - it’s being played over and over again. Why do you want to know this? It’s worth alerting your Digital Distributor that a song is reacting - so they can help support playlist pitching! Also this is a helpful metric to know, if you are dialoguing directly with editorial curators at Spotify.
Monitor Blog Pick Up - Get a report from your PR / publicist of blog / media pick up - or create this yourself! Additionally, have a column for whoever actually wrote the blog post - they might be a fan and may be a writer for multiple blogs / media outlets or work somewhere else in the future.
Consider College Radio, Specialty Radio Testing, Satellite Radio Testing (note you want to be seeing “signs of life” as previously mentioned (or maybe if you quickly reach 1MM Spotify streams on a single track - that could be trigger to take action) In other words - do you have a story to tell - do you have evidence that your music is working.
Make an actual video! Especially if you are seeing traction on that song. Let me explain further. Many times at We Are: The Guard (my label), our Audio Release is the 1st Tier release. We’ll then see if we “got” something. In other words - there’s no sense to make a $5,000 - $20,000 video if your audio can’t get off the ground with your fans. On the other hand - if you really have a great song - and it hasn’t achieved any lift off yet - it could be that inventive video that gives the song its moment.
Run a Google Hangout Contest with you for a virtual visit in the studio, virtual coffee hang or rehearsal, etc.
Go On Tour (Duh!)
Run VIP backstage contests for each date of your tour.
Run “Thank Yous” on Social Media for blog, curator, DSP support. Tag them and include the link back to them where you were featured.
Continue to do cool shit, behind the scenes stuff, etc on Socials, Instagram, etc.
Make a TikTok challenge (yeah, I had to say it).
Push for synchronization licenses and remind your teams (publisher and label) about your release.
Analyze your best digital marketing campaigns. Pick the highest performing one and rerun it with a strong budget.
Go Live on Facebook or Instagram with an impromptu (or planned!) personal show (Note: this can even be from your bedroom).
Respond to comments! That’s right - there’s plenty of conversation starters on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Here’s a question for you. Are your audiences just talking to a void, or having an actual conversation with you?
Run a Q&A Google Hangout or Live session for fans.
Make and Sell a limited amount of merch - just based on your single i.e. T Shirts with your single artwork.
Hire some cheesy B list celebrities on Cameo.com to give you or you (and your release) or your fans shoutouts.
Look for Touring Partners or touring partner possibilities and work that shit!
Try Different Low Cost Advertising Strategies i.e. just try to break your local city or target a different genre, or “low hanging fruit” cities and countries.
Resubmit to different genres on Submit Hub. We did this recently with an electronic/goth artist who had a strong hip hop element to the song - though we never submitted to Hip Hop blogs on SubmitHub! It was a win!
Make a 2nd Music Video. Ideas here: license 3rd Party Video Content and edit it to your song), allow film students to use your video, mash up other supporting video that's on brand. Also consider the idea that a music video - could just be made for Instagram i.e. 45 second verse/chorus clip. Hell - screw that. Make 7 (yes seven) .45 second new video treatment “test” clips and release one each day for a week! Whichever does the best - make the video based on that clip.
Run Growth and Spotify Follow Campaigns for your Spotify Page. Do this while you’re in a non release cycle. And then, when you're within an "On" cycle, focus on promoting your releases. Remember your Spotify “Release Radar” (which populates based on who follows you on Spotify) is perhaps the best playlist you can be on...and that’s all in your hands!
Run a Special Campaign for a Holiday i.e. Valentine's Day - 1st 50 emails to me at this email address will get a personal call from me wishing them Happy Valentine's Day. See what my man, David Goggins did here.
Do a YouTube commentary video on one of your best videos - (i.e. the DVD bonus or iTunes Extra version). Topics of dialogue - how the video was made, problems that came up, interesting facts, Q&A from your fans, how you chose the director, etc.
Release “B” Roll and OutTakes and Bloopers from your Video Shoot (maybe this is just for Instagram but hey, if I’m a fan of yours - I wanna see this).
Post Marketing / Release Review - What worked? What didn’t? Learn lessons from this. Rinse and Report.
Make sticker packs and give out to fans for free. Or go on a sticker campaign in your local town.
Assemble all your singles into an EP and re-release your songs as a package.
Create an “Artist Playlist” on your Spotify Profile page and also from your YouTube channel - and have control over how you want new fans to experience your songs. Also, use that new link in ads, marketing and promotions - so new fans can discover more than just “one” song.
Make a high end collectors edition visual book for your fans for the “making of” process or “a year in the life of.” This can easily be done with www.shutterfly.com.
Don’t forget Vimeo! Release your video content on Vimeo.
Don’t forget Bandcamp! There’s a whole ecosystem there and you should have your music definitely on Bandcamp - just as you should on Soundcloud. If your music is not up there - release it, and announce it on your socials!
Twitch! You can build up a following here from your original music to even playing covers. We know someone who does this, and as a result has managed to turn over decent plays on his original music on Spotify. Include overlays on your steam promoting your music! Also do special “single release day” streams.
Create gifs for fans to use - there are websites where you can do this for free (it’s pretty easy).
Use an app like Community to have fans text you directly (celebs like Diddy and Jake Paul have recently done this).
Pandora - There are people on Pandora - 63 million in fact. Using Pandora’s data tool, Next Big Sound, and the creator tool, AMP Playbook, you can figure out what your most popular songs are on the platform and record voice memos that will play when someone’s listening to you (Artist Audio Messaging). You can select a specific song for the message to play after. A great music marketing strategy is to market to the people who already care. What better moment to speak to your fans than when they’re already listening to your music? You can target specific cities to promote shows or promote releases by linking to a specific call to action.
Try changing the demographics of your promoted posts in Facebook Ads Manager. Put $10 into a couple different populations and see what’s working.
If you go on tour or have a show, make a behind the scenes/on the road video and capture footage. You never know when they’re going to make “the” documentary about you.
Handmade merch: Feeling creative? Want merch on a budget? Go to a thrift store with a by-the-pound section, select 20 unique plain t-shirts in different sizes (I really like the softer kind… we’ve all bought those hard cotton merch shirts and been bummed out), create a stencil, grab some fabric paint, a fabric medium, and a few friends. Make the shirts, take pictures and videos of the process, and sell them at your shows, on your website, or on Bandcamp. The vintage look is super fashionable and your fans will love it because it came from you. Friendship bracelets are another cheap, easy merch item. Maybe put the title of the song or album, and your name (always).
Cover challenge - If your audience is made up of a lot of musicians, challenge them to cover your song for some kind of prize and share the videos on your socials! The Internet did a cover challenge on their Hive Mind Tour and the winners got to perform on stage with the band. Allen Stone did this recently as well in collaboration with Pickup Music.
Make a “Fan Made” Music Video - ask fans to take selfie footage of themselves singing along to your song. String them together to create a video, and remember- you don’t have to do the whole song. One section will still be useful content for social media.
Make an Instagram AR filter - You know those cute new Instagram story filters and games that recently became popular? If you’re unfamiliar, you can access these filters by scrolling all the way to the right of the effects when you are making a story or by clicking in the upper left corner of a friend’s story who used a certain filter. Using Facebook’s Spark AR tool, you can make your own Augmented Reality filter on Instagram to add to the Effect Gallery. We recommend making something cute and trendy with your song playing, as promotional filters will not appear in the Effect Gallery.
Physical mail! Ask fans for their addresses and mail them something special for Valentine’s Day or whatever holiday is nearby. Maybe mail fans handwritten lyrics? Ask for birthdays and send cards? Create an online form for address submissions. This is a great opportunity to increase the data you have access to. Next time you go on tour, you’ll know exactly who’s in what city.
Similar to the previous idea...demos! People love feeling close to an artist’s creative process. Release your demos and let people in on how the songs sounded when you first created them. Ex. Mac Demarco’s Another (Demo) One and Salad Days Demos.
And there you have it. 50 - no - hmm, 48 post-release music marketing strategies!! We’ll have 2 more I’m sure within a few weeks of posting this. If not, then - find some humor with myself and Mel Brooks:
No doubt, I think it’s important and crucial that you’re nourishing the “beautiful babies” you’ve made and put out in the world - making sure you give them every opportunity and environment in which they can grow up, go to college and be the proverbial doctors and lawyers, and / or at the very least … putting awesomeness out into the world and consequently putting that love back into your fanbase, social numbers, royalty streams and bank account. Let them grow up to lead the most potential they can possibly have.
So, as Gwen Stefani once infamously sung, “What are you waiting for?”
Hit me up @_benjamingroff if you have other ideas on how to get your music heard or free music promotion ideas that you think we should add to the post.