These days it so easy to get your music online – but with so many people able to do it so easily it can be hard to get your music heard. In this guide I will talk through not only how to release your music online but give tips on how to get your music heard. I will be focussing on Spotify as it is the biggest market, however a lot of what I’m talking about is pretty generic and applies to Apple Music, Tidal, Deezer and so on.
A digital distributor is a company who takes a song that you give them and puts it on ALL the different streaming sites. There are hundreds of companies that offer this service (with different pricing tiers) but Spotify recommends the following (I’ve included the price for individuals with each site – many of these companies offer different deals for labels and artist managers):
- DistroKid – $19.99 per year for unlimited albums and singles.
- CD Baby – $9.95 per single, $29 per album
- EmuBands – £29.95 per single, £34.95 per EP, £49.95 per album
- Record Union – $49.99 per year for up to 3 artist names
- Vydia – invite only, no pricing available
NOTE: each service has different terms and conditions so its worth having a proper look at each h of their websites.
I do not release my own music so I don’t have any personal experience with any of the above but most artists that come to Free House Studios tend to use DistroKid or CD Baby.
Spotify For Artists
Once you’ve signed up with a distributor you’ll get access to the Spotify For Artists portal. Its really important that you put some time into putting loads of content on here as Spotify is only going to push you to an audience if you look legit!
Photos – make sure you have at least 2-3 high quality photos that show who you are as an artist. If you don’t have these already organise a photo shoot in a few cool locations near you with a few outfits – I know it sounds lame but it really will help you look better on Spotify.
Bio – you only need a few lines for your bio, keep it short and sweet and tell the people what makes you different from the rest!
Link to you socials – this shows Spotify that you are real and have a presence elsewhere online. They don’t wanna push fake or spammy accounts so show them who you are.
Artist Pick – keep your Artist Pick up to date with your latest single.
User Playlist – a great opportunity to have other do your promotion for you. Find a bunch of great, local artists that make similar music to yours and make a playlist with your latest single at the top and a bunch of tracks from those artists below! Then, screenshot the playlist, post it online and tag every artist you included – hopefully they’ll all repost and send all their fans to your playlist. Its worth setting aside 10 minutes a week to tweak and add tracks to this playlist.
Shopify – this one only applies if you have merch. If so, make sure you add it to Shopify – the more you interact with Spotify the more its algorithm will push you.
Donate – as above.
There’s a lot of debate around the best way to release music and how often you should be doing it. Personally I think it depends on what level you are at as an artist and I will discuss those differences in a second. But first, I will lay out what I think is a good single release strategy.
I think almost every artist that is trying to build or maintain a strong fanbase in 2022 should be releasing a new single every 6-8 weeks. I love working on albums but I think in today’s world releasing a 12-track album every 2 years will get you far fewer plays than releasing a single every 2 months for 2 years. Both strategies involve 12 songs over the course of 2 years but the second (single) strategy gives you the opportunity to promote fresh, exciting, new content regularly and maintain fan engagement.
Depending on your audience you could then, at the end of each year (or 2) release an exclusive (or limited edition) physical 6 track EP (or 12 track album).
So, you’re done in the studio, everything’s recorded, the mix is sick, the master is phat and bumpin’ and you’re ready to upload your new single. What now?
Submit your new track to your online distributor 7-28 days before the release date. This gives you enough time to submit to Spotify Editorial Playlists – getting on these playlists should be the number one goal of your release strategy. Spotify Editorial Playlists are official playlists curated by Spotify featuring the best songs of a certain genre or style and can have up to 30 million followers.
For tips on writing your pitch check out the video below:
Now you have some time to kill before your song comes out so its time to start planning your promo content. Get together album artwork, photos from the studio, behind the scenes footage from the video shoot etc. so that in the days and weeks leading up to and following the release of your new track you have fresh, interesting content to remind your followers that you have a new track out. Put a presave link in your social media bios so your fans will be presented with your new tune the day it comes out and encourage people to follow you on Spotify.
The moment you’ve been waiting for, its out!! Make a splash on release day, get friends and artists to share your new track and promote it as much asa possible. Reply to comments on your socials from your fans, show them you care. See if other artists will add your new track to their Artist Pick playlists (in exchange for you adding their songs to your playlist). Add a canvas to your release.
Now that your song is out you can send it to non-editorial playlists. Use Playlist Supply to get playlist curators’ contact information and use SubmitHub and PlaylistPitch to reach out. Be picky with the playlists you submit to, make sure they’re right for your music otherwise you start to look like a spammer with no real interest in the playlists your submitting to. If you can get on a few quality user playlists on Spotify you’ll be more likely to be considered for editorial playlists in the future. NEVER pay to be featured on a playlist – this is a scam and if the playlist will accept anyone with enough cash then you could be swimming in an ocean of poor quality music – you do not want to be associated with these.
Extra Shot at the Big Time
This takes a bit of prep work but if you can manage it it can really help you get in front of a larger audience. While making your song, reach out to some other artists to see if they’d be up for remixing, featuring on or collaborating with an alternative version of the track. You can then release this a few weeks after the initial release and gives you a chance to promote both tracks at once. It will also put you in front of the audience of the other artists – the remix is likely to show up in Release Radar playlists of their followers and they’ll promote it on their socials too.