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Music Promotion: How to Distribute and Promote Your First Release

December 14, 2023 | Alexander Lavoie

A woman on the floor recording piano on her MIDI controller.

Writing your first track and dropping your first single is always an exciting and fun first step for any budding music producer. 

Of course, now that you’ve finished your track it’s time to get your music out into the world.

Starting from square one might seem scary, but with some planning and some work, you can start building your audience.

In this article, we’ll look at what you need to launch your first release successfully.

By the end, you’ll have a solid idea of what goes into a good music promotion plan, and you’ll know what to expect in the weeks and days leading up to and after launch day.

Ready? Let’s start promoting your next release!

1. Come up with a release timeline

A well-planned release timeline is your roadmap to success. 

Start by choosing an ideal release date, then work backward to plan each step. Typically a good rule of thumb is at least three months ahead of your ideal release date. 

Especially if you’ve only finished the writing and recording process.

You’ll need to allocate time for mixing and mastering, creating artwork and promotional materials, radio and press send-outs, and music distribution.

If you’re making a music video for the single, that’ll take at least a month since you’ll need to conceptualize a video, organize a shoot day, edit, and finalize the video.

Getting physical merch like vinyl and cassette will also add up to two months of lead time ahead of release.

Consider the timing of your release carefully too—major artists tend to drop their singles in the spring ahead of festival season, so you might want to choose a date earlier in the year or later to avoid being overshadowed.

As always, incorporate buffer time for unexpected delays to ensure the smoothest possible rollout of your music.

2. Create an album cover

The visual representation of your music, your album cover, is more than just artwork—it's a storytelling tool that will engrain itself in the memories of your fans.

It should encapsulate the essence, aesthetic, and overall vibe of your music. If you have design skills it’s your chance to make a visual representation of your music.

But if you’re not fully confident in your design skills, hiring a designer who understands your aesthetics is a really good idea. 

Don’t compromise on your album artwork. You put a ton of effort into making your tracks, so they deserve to be dressed up nicely.

In the streaming age, a small thumbnail of your album art is usually the first thing audiences see before listening to your music—if your art is eye-catching it will compel viewers to click and listen.

3. Choose a music distributor

If you want to get your music on Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, or any other streaming service you need to distribute your music through a music distributor.

Music distribution services process your music and deliver it, properly formatted, to each streaming platform.

To find the best music distribution service you’ll need to research their unique offerings, fees, and the level of support they provide. 

Understand the distribution agreement's fine print—look for distributors that won’t take a cut of your streaming royalties or lock you into a long-term contract.

Some distributors offer promotional services and playlist placements, which can be beneficial for a new artist. 

If you’re looking for a distributor LANDR Distribution is a great option that comes at a great price, it offers unlimited distribution and you keep 100% of your royalties.

The Best Way to Release Your Music (LANDR Distribution)

4. Plan your social media content

Social media is such an important platform for music promotion these days. 

So, it’s key to create and plan lots of content in the lead to and after your release day. 

Share stories about your music-making process, teasers of your tracks, your artwork, studio pictures, photos, and stories from your life, and engage in conversations with your followers. 

Utilize different platforms for different purposes: Instagram for visual storytelling, Twitter for quick updates, and your own website for longer, more engaging posts.

If you have budget and time, creating a YouTube presence with music videos and live performances is a huge way to reach new audiences through YouTube’s algorithm.

Consistency is key—regular updates keep your audience engaged and build anticipation for your release.

5. Hype up your release to launch day and beyond

Generating excitement for your release is a continuous process. Start by building a mailing list to keep your most loyal fans informed. 

Create a countdown to your release on social media, and consider premiering a single or music video ahead of the full release. 

Post-release, keep the momentum going by sharing reviews, engaging in online forums, and responding to listener feedback. 

And, perhaps most importantly, plan a live show in your city to launch the release.

Play live as much as possible, since live experiences are one of the best ways to engage your fans and they create opportunities to make social posts and connect with members of the music industry.

Speaking of networking…

6. Share and collaborate with other artists

Networking and collaboration are powerful tools in the music industry. 

So, don’t be afraid to reach out to other artists for potential collaborations, especially ones in your local network or niche.

Offer to collaborate on new work or suggest cross-promotion of each other’s work. 

Even a simple share of their music to your stories or posts can encourage other artists to share about you.

Collaborations can introduce your music to a wider audience and add fresh elements to your work. 

Engage with local music communities, and online forums, and attend industry events to expand your network.

7. Keep making music!

Your musical journey doesn’t end with one release. Continue to hone your craft, experiment with new sounds, and keep producing music.

Regular releases keep your audience engaged and help build a robust portfolio. 

Each release is a learning opportunity, providing insights into your audience’s preferences and the effectiveness of your promotional strategies.

Set it free

Making music isn’t easy, it takes time and dedication to your craft. So congratulations on making it to this huge moment in your music career! 

Just like writing a song, releasing a finished track takes vulnerability, so don’t be shy. Now’s the time to put together a solid plan that’s guaranteed to make a splash.

Those tracks you’ve worked so hard on deserve to be heard. So, stick to these basic music promotion guidelines and your first release is sure to make waves. 

Good luck out there!

About the author

Alex Lavoie is a musician, drummer, and producer from Montreal. He writes indie post-punk tunes in his band UTILS while moonlighting as drummer for folk-rock outfit The Painters. Alex Lavoie works as Content Manager at LANDR where he manages the LANDR Blog.

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