How to Plan for an Album Release
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When you first started out, you only had one song written. Now some time has passed, and you’ve got a whole set of tracks ready to compile into your very first album. That’s a major achievement; but what’s the next step? As a musician, what do you need to actually do? In this article of our Music Promotion Guide, we’ll walk you through the process of how to plan for an album release.
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Should You Release a Single, EP, or LP?
When the time comes to release your music to the world, you need to make an important decision: whether you should release your material as a single, an EP, or an LP. There isn’t a single “correct” answer that applies to all musicians. The best and most appropriate format for your material will depend on factors like:
- The amount of money you’re willing to spend.
- The size of the following you’ve already built up.
- The number of tracks you’re ready to release.
- The genre, style, and length of your tracks.
With these factors in mind, let’s quickly review the key differences between each of these formats.
- Singles – A single is one song. In the heyday of vinyl, that meant one track on each side of a record, which is where the terms “A side” and “B side” come from. Today, singles are sometimes accompanied by remixes, a cappella versions, and/or instrumental versions. If you have a small following and a minimal budget, creating a single might be the way to go. Just keep in mind that singles are expected to be short, sweet, and radio-ready, so if your tracks have an abstract or experimental streak, a single might not be the best fit for getting started.
- EPs. EP stands for Extended Play, and is sometimes described as a single with bonus tracks. Unlike an LP (which we’ll get to in just a second), an EP only contains a few tracks. If you think of music in terms of shirt sizes, an EP is a medium.
- LPs. LP stands for Long Play. An LP is a full album, which makes it suitable for bands that have a larger budget and a more extensive body of work. Since LPs are fairly expensive to produce and record compared to singles and even EPs, they can be somewhat financially risky for bands that are just starting out.
There are pros and cons to singles, EPs, and LPs. If you have any questions about which is best for your band, the experienced music promoters at Planetary Group are here to help you identify your goals and determine which path to take.
Why Timing and Promotion Matters for an Album Release
As with all things in the music business, you cannot simply sit back and rest on your laurels once your album is slated for release. Avoid the temptation to take a celebratory break just yet. There’ll be time for that later, but at this stage, there’s still lots of work to put in.
The time when an album is of greatest interest to radio stations is, unsurprisingly, right around its release — not after it’s been sitting on the shelf for three years. Radio stations reach peak interest when an album is nearing its release date, and immediately after the album becomes available to the public. Therefore, to achieve maximum airplay and get people excited, you need to “strike when the iron is hot.”
In particular, you should be constantly thinking about the goals — and time-frame — of your promotional efforts. This is true whether you use professional promoters, do your own promotion, or blend both methods. The earlier on in the album process you begin to think about how, where, and when you will focus your promo campaign, the better. It’s never too early to plan ahead, and in fact, it’s ideal to start brainstorming promotion strategies during the recording stage if possible.
Why is it helpful to get an early start on your promotion planning? Simply put, it gives your promo team the greatest possible opportunity to gain exposure for you. The more of a heads-up you are able to give your promoters, the longer they will have to schedule interviews, get in touch with radio stations, and spread the word about any shows you might be playing leading up to the release. This means that by the time the release actually occurs, there will be a greater sense of excitement and anticipation surrounding your album.
If you fail to build up to your album release with an aggressive promotional push, the release itself may go unnoticed. Not only is that discouraging and demoralizing – it’s also a financial burden. So what are some ways you can promote the release ahead of time?
- Use social media. Consumers can’t get excited about something they don’t know exists. If your band has a social media presence — and it should — post announcements about the upcoming release.
- Make special offers. If you can afford it, you may want to consider making a special offer to entice listeners to purchase your album – for example, including a free poster, DVD, or other materials in the first 100 (or however many) albums.
- Reach out to college stations. College radio stations are renowned for being ahead of the curve when it comes to musical talent. If you give them enough time, your promotional team can get in touch with station personnel and may be able to set up an interview or announcement on your behalf.
- Throw a release party. Exactly what it sounds like: a party meant to celebrate and promote your album release. Launch parties can become expensive, but they don’t have to be. Your release party can be as glamorous or low-key as you want to make it. The most important thing is to network, network, and then network some more – and to have a great time, of course.
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If you’ve gone a little light on your promotional efforts up until now, don’t panic. Even if your release date is imminent — perhaps even in the recent past — it’s a matter of better late than never. For example, if your album has just been released, your promoters may be able to persuade music critics to write a review. A review can help drum up additional interest among music blog or magazine readers, which in turn leads to more hype and more listeners. In short, promotion is always better than no promotion when it comes to an album release, however late to the game you may be. All the same, it’s a good idea to remember that when it comes to promoting your single, album, or EP, earlier is better.
Whether you’re a rapper, a DJ, a singer-songwriter, or part of a band, the experienced music promo team at Planetary Group would love to hear from you. While our offices are located in L.A., we work with bands and solo acts all over the United States, and international acts from around the globe. If you have any questions about how our team can help you kick-start your album release, give us a call at (323) 952-5050.