Music promotion takes a lot of time and effort – sadly, a luxury many part-time musicians and artists don’t have. There’s an endless list of things you can do to promote your music. But at some point, as most artists discover, the law of diminishing returns applies.
Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to maximize the impact of your release online. This plan is designed for time-poor music creators who want their new single to reach a reasonably wide online audience as efficiently as possible. We’ve deliberately omitted a lot of standard tactics such as radio promotion, music videos and traditional PR in order to design a simple and “ultra lean” campaign plan, designed strictly to get the most benefit for the least expense and effort. While this kind of simple release campaign might not meet the needs of most full-time and established career artists, it’s ideal for part-time musicians and other entry-level artists who are just getting their feet wet.
NOTE: This campaign plan assumes you haven’t already released your music! If your music is already released and you want to increase your audience on Spotify, you can learn more about how to promote your back catalog on Spotify.
The First and Most Important Step: Plan Ahead!
Choose a release day for your single* at least 1 month ahead. We can’t stress this enough! Having enough lead time is essential if you want to minimize your workload while maximizing the impact of your release.
*You can also use this campaign plan if you’re releasing an EP or album – but you’ll still need to choose a single or “focus track” to promote. Most bloggers, playlist curators, and other influencers don’t have time to listen to more than 1 track; if you try to send them an EP or an album, chances are you’ll just be ignored.
Most new releases come out on Friday, but if Fridays aren’t convenient for you then feel free to pick any other day of the week. Circle that date on your calendar and make sure you can set aside a few hours on that date to focus on your release.
Now, working backwards from that date, you can follow this simple campaign schedule:
4 weeks before release day
- Upload your single via your preferred aggregator and set your release date. Yes, we know most aggregators can get your release onto Spotify in just a few days, but that’s not a good idea if you’re trying to run any kind of promotional campaign (even a simple one). Four weeks of lead time should give you enough time to implement your campaign and deal effectively with any unexpected hiccups along the way.
- Set up your band’s Bandcamp and SoundCloud accounts, if you haven’t already. (Don’t publish your single yet!)
- Make sure you also have a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, and an Instagram account set up for your band. (Don’t just use your personal accounts!) You don’t have to be active every single day on all these accounts, and don’t worry too much about your follower counts. Just make sure the accounts exist, and try to be active regularly on at least ONE platform.
- Once all your accounts are set up (Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Facebook Page, Twitter, and Instagram), make sure they ALL have consistent graphics and photos, a brief artist bio, and (this is important) reciprocal links to each other. A huge part of promotion is just being discoverable!
3 weeks before release day
- Set up a Spotify pre-save for your upcoming single. Share your pre-save link on all your personal and band socials. Encourage people to click the link to “pre-save” your upcoming single on Spotify.
- Search for listener Spotify playlists that would be a good fit for your single, and start compiling a list of curators to pitch to on your release day. Most blogs, artists, indie labels, companies, etc. can be found with a Google search. Regular Spotify users are easiest to find via Facebook: do a Facebook search for the owner’s name, and scan the results to find their matching profile photo.
- Set yourself a reasonable goal of playlists to pitch – as many as you feel capable of pitching. We recommend targeting at least 100 relevant playlists; more is better, as long as the playlists are a good fit. Our most successful artists typically pitch 350-500+ playlists per single.
- PRO TIP: If you’re short on time, you can use Playlist Radar to find relevant playlists and contact info.
2 weeks before release day
- Log into your Spotify for Artists account. (If this is your first single on Spotify and you’re using DistroKid as your aggregator, you can request instant access.) Make sure your Spotify profile has an up-to-date bio, photos and social links.
- On the Home screen of your Spotify for Artists account, check for a notice near the top of the page (“You’ve got an upcoming release”). Click on the corresponding SUBMIT A SONG → link to fill out the form and submit your single to Spotify’s editorial team.
1 week before release day
- Upload your single to Bandcamp and SoundCloud, but don’t publish it yet. (SoundCloud will allow you to schedule a track for future release; Bandcamp requires that you hit “publish” manually on the day of release.) Make sure you include a description, production credits, lyrics, and any relevant genre tags.
- Create a SubmitHub profile. Buy some credits and get familiar with the interface (don’t submit your song yet). Review the genre categories to decide which category your song best fits into.
- Remind people via your personal and band socials that your new single is coming out soon. (Post your pre-save link again!)
- Publish your single on Bandcamp and SoundCloud.
- Post the Spotify link for your single on all your socials. (Use hashtags like #NewMusicFriday + any appropriate genre hashtags.)
- Use SubmitHub to send your single to any relevant blogs, SoundCloud channels, YouTube channels, radio stations, and Spotify playlists.
- Using the Spotify playlist target list you’ve already created, send a brief message to each playlist curator. Introduce yourself and ask them to consider adding your new single to their playlist. (Release day stats matter! Aim to get through as much of your target list as possible on your release day.) For more guidance, check out our advice on how to make contact with playlist curators.)
After release day
- Monitor your playlist adds using Chartmetric and/or SpotOnTrack. You can also track how many listeners and streams you get from each playlist through Spotify for Artists.
- Make sure to share any blog features or playlist adds on all your socials, and be generous with your public thank yous and shout-outs. Not only is it good karma – it can also help nudge other curators, tastemakers and potential new fans to check out your song.
And that’s it! Following these steps won’t guarantee you a hit, but it will ensure your single reaches a reasonably wide audience as efficiently as possible. If you want to go back and promote a different track, check out our advice on how to promote your back catalog on Spotify. Good luck!