Releasing New Music 101

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Are you ready to kick-start the biggest year of your music career and ministry? It’s time to get ahead of the game and set your sights on some incredible opportunities that await you in 2024. As the first leaves of Autumn begin to fall, now is the perfect time to channel your energy into mapping out a game plan that will skyrocket your success. Don’t be fooled by the illusion of downtime over the next several months; this is the moment to seize the day, harness your passion, and unlock the secrets to a truly unforgettable year. In this episode, I’m going to unveil some essential steps you should take to prepare for an exciting 2024. Get ready to rock, because the countdown to greatness starts right here, right now!

Welcome to the podcast! Since I started TMA in 2005 I have met with artists and bands (and a few writers, actors, and spoken-word artists) all over the world. Invariably the common denominator among all of them is the lack of planning. In fact, I have a little postcard (which is a predecessor to memes) that says “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Not planning doesn’t mean you’re slack or lazy. Sometimes getting into the weeds of what should happen and when is difficult to navigate through.

Creative music types are rightly focused on creating solid lyrics to tell a story and well-produced music to carry that story to the listener. So it’s not unusual to meet an artist so focused on production that the branding and marketing for that product many times is left to the last minute.

And when anything is thrown together at the last minute the ROI, or return on investment, is usually disappointing. And that’s because the artist has an incomplete picture of the process. Or, the artist drops all the funding into production, leaving nothing for marketing. Perhaps the artist even thinks the song will sell simply because of his own name. Or the artist is expecting his fan base to do the marketing for him. Let’s be honest. That’s just laziness!

So let’s walk through the steps I recommend artists take to ensure a successful launch of new music in the marketplace, including a new radio drop. This linear step-by-step process can be applied to Music released at any time of the year. However, we do need to plan around holidays, vacations, and other periods of time when it would not be optimal to release new music.

When I work with an artist I always start from the end and work backward. In other words, we establish the drop (release) date 3 to 6 months in advance and work backward to plan everything from production, mastering, cover art, the radio drop, and a national marketing campaign.

Step one: Determining your preferred outcomes is crucial in the music business because it sets the foundation for your entire release strategy. This step involves identifying your goals for the release, whether it’s gaining a new fanbase, increasing sales, or getting radio play. Without a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, creating a focused and effective marketing plan will be difficult.

Step two: Establishing a budget is essential because it will determine the resources you have available to promote and distribute your music. This includes any production costs, such as recording and mixing, as well as branding and marketing expenses. Knowing your budget will help you make decisions on areas where you can allocate more funds to reach your goals.

Step three: Picking a date for release is important because it creates a sense of urgency for yourself and your team. It also allows you to begin planning your promotional efforts in advance, building anticipation and buzz around your music. A specific release date also gives you a target to work towards and can help you plan your marketing timeline accordingly.

Step four: Working backward from your release date to plan out all other steps is crucial because it ensures that all aspects are executed promptly and organized. This includes coordinating your branding, press release, music videos, and distribution strategy to align with your release date. By having a clear timeline, you can stay on track and avoid any last-minute rush or delays.

Step five: Identifying team members is key because releasing music successfully requires a team effort. These team members can include a producer, publicist, graphic designer, social media manager, and others who will support your release. Collaborating with a team allows for a collective brainstorming of ideas and skills to bring your vision to life and reach your preferred outcomes.

If you can implement these five steps into your planning your outcome Will be much better than had you not planned at all. Now I know that “Planning ahead” is not something creative types typically like doing. That’s why for the past 18 years I’ve been consulting with artists in their cities and countries, helping them integrate these five steps into their planning. It’s always especially exciting when you see the light go off in their head their eyes get big and they realize the importance of being very specific when they’re planning. So if you have a great song and you need help not only planning these five steps but also implementing them, reach out to me and let me know. Maybe it’s time we meet!

The Bible is very clear on the importance of planning ahead. It would be foolish, as an artist about to release new music, not to recognize this. In Luke 14:28 we read “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” This verse speaks directly to the importance of setting your budget before you even step into the studio. You must include funds to cover everything that happens outside of the studio.

More pointedly, Proverbs 21:5 tells us “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” The Hebrew word from which we get “poverty” is “machcowr” (makh-sore’). It literally means poverty, want, deficiency, and lack. If you’ve written a great song that you feel will be impactful to your audience and could possibly change lives what’s the point if you’re not putting any planning for a successful release? You will have wasted Time Energy and money for a song with limited exposure. And somewhere there is an individual who needs to hear the message in that song but will never do so because your marketing plan was inadequate.

How do you implement these five steps into your process? Here is an example:

Let’s say it’s June and you have a new Christmas Single you would like to release for the holidays. You cannot wait until September or October to walk into a studio and ask your producer to miraculously produce a chart-worthy Christmas song that everyone will be demanding on the radio.

In June you finish writing the song.

In July you and your producer polish the song and begin production. You also complete an ad buy with a national marketing agency with specific dates for your rotating ads, social media ads, etc.

In August you and your producer move into the final stages of production and mastering. You also begin working with your graphic designer on cover art.

In September everything is finalized so that by the end of the month you can drop your Christmas song to radio by October 1.

Now, that does not mean radio stations will begin playing your Christmas song in October. It does mean that program directors and station managers begin curating Christmas songs for their holiday playlists. That’s the date all the major artists and bands submit their Christmas music to radio.

And finally, in October and November into December you are promoting your song to your audiences in your live shows as well as on your social media platforms.

So if you’re listening to this or reading this in September you might think “Oh gosh I’m late!” Well perhaps. But I have released holiday music in early November and it got good Radio play. It’s not optimal by any measure but it gets the song to audiences looking for new Christmas music.

Finally, planning ahead may not be your forte but it is mine! I love working with artists anxious to share wonderful new music with new audiences. Always remember that Record labels do not develop artists. But TMA does that and much more. You do not have to be a rostered management client to get the help you need tackling radio. Our radio packages include branding (if needed) and marketing opportunities.

Regardless of when it is in the calendar year, I can help you successfully release your new music to the marketplace through radio promotions and intentional marketing. How can I help you?

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