You did it! You’ve finished a recorded version of a song. You have even decided this song is the best song you’ve ever produced. Pouring hours into the writing, the recording, the mixing, and polishing. But now what? Surely you must now be wondering, ‘When is the best time to release music?’
With so many streaming services available for releasing a song — Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, YouTube, Pandora — figuring out when to get it to the masses for maximum exposure can become its own logistical headache.
Fear not! Here’s a step-by-step guide to some of the best strategies and times to release your music. And how to bake in the integration of multiple singles and videos into a larger release schedule using multiple platforms.
There’s a lot of excitement deciding when a single or multiple songs is finished.
It took me many, many releases to find the sweet spot of keeping the final product under wraps while planning the best course for its exposure.
A good first step is to take some time away from your finished work. Then ask yourself some powerful, effective questions around the audience you want for it. ‘Who is my audience? What type of music fans would embrace my music? How will I personally gauge the response to it?’
Before my touring band put out our double vinyl LP, we sat down and came up with three ‘fan personas’. Literally asking ourselves, what specific type of person would most enjoy and help share this music online? And what other band’s fans would enjoy our album?
By taking the time to break down the ideal listeners and similar artists for your music, you give yourself a huge advantage in making sure the songs get to as many ears as possible. And isn’t that one of the most motivating reasons to keep writing and releasing songs?
We decided on 5 singles and videos each released between six and eight weeks of each other. This helps with continuity for the LP and gives us almost a full year of consistent exposure. Additionally, it also gives us ample opportunity to cross-market both the coming singles as well as the ones we’ve already released.
The next step is to consider a marketing budget. What kind of money are you willing to put toward things like boosting social media posts. Adding a PR agent to help push for interviews and reviews, and getting added to playlists on Spotify with promotion?
Some artists feel spending money on marketing is a sort of cheating. That their music should grow fans by standing on its own merit. And while this is absolutely the case when it comes to the quality of a song, it won’t have any following if no one knows it exists!
When talking with fellow artists, I often say spending money on a 6 week social media ad campaign will probably be far more impactful towards forwarding their music career. Versus using that same money to buy a guitar pedal or piece of studio gear.
Artists can definitely be funny when it comes to money and art. Be mindful of your relationship to it. It’s good to take a big picture approach when it comes to the economy of releasing your music.
Studies show people need to see something on a social media feed around a dozen times before they click on it! Think about all those crazy ads you see over and over on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. It’s not your imagination: you’re seeing them multiple times. The marketing decisions around getting your song out into the ears and eyes of music fans should be no different.
Explore where your fans are spending their time. The idea is to get the action of clicking to your song or video into their daily feeds. You may be an indie artist. However, you have access to the same tools as any other musician. Make smart choices, and have empathy for the audience you’re seeking to reach.
Some artists may feel putting all of their music on ALL of the streaming services at the same time is a smart strategy. However, one of the huge advantages of having multiple streaming services. From which to choose is the ability to create exclusivity with your music.
For example, you may decide to put just a single from an EP on Spotify in advance of making the whole album available. Bandcamp is an incredible service and allows songs from a collection for purchase to be released at different times. We used our mailing list to let fans know the first single and video off our new record would be out in a certain week’s time.
Then, the single became available on a Friday on Spotify and Bandcamp. The video for it premiered the following Friday on YouTube. This gave us a lot of opportunities to cross-post about both events on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. This was without talking about the same event over and over causing eyeball fatigue.
It also gave many touchpoints for snippets of the video. As well as behind the scenes of making it, and even a few of the ‘bloopers’ that got cut from the finished product. So, the best time to release music on streaming services depends on the strategy you’re determining on your release.
Bandcamp allows pre-order for vinyl, full downloads, future singles, and more. Most new albums and singles now premiere on Fridays so it helps to hype your release on social media in the week leading up to it. Soundcloud can be good for singles and previews during the week.
We launched the single on Thursday ‘the day before the Spotify and Bandcamp premiere!’, and hyped it to our Instagram followers to check out as an exclusive. This creates a feeling of intimacy and bond with your fans, and it also gives you another touchpoint for marketing around the best time to release music.
Is your song related to an event, holiday, or other timely subject? Releasing the song in close proximity can be a huge help in advancing awareness, and can be repeated if the event is recurring. Holiday music is the obvious example however other impactful dates can work, too.
Look at the landscape of other artists releasing singles and albums around the same time that you are considering. Could there be synergy in putting your music out around the same time, or would having your release overshadowed by a bigger artist with a larger budget bury your music in the shuffle?
One of our most recent singles came out near the release of the newest Paul McCartney album. This created synergy in our social media strategy. Tweets and Instagram stories about his huge influence on my music also contained hashtags pointing toward his new record (which is amazing, by the way). And if your song or album has a similar message to another artist’s at the same time, amplify and use it as another weapon in your social media toolbox!
Before 2020’s lockdown, stats show people streaming on Spotify and Bandcamp the most on Fridays between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm. Now that the world has turned upside down, the best answer is whenever you think your fanbase will be the most engaged.
Typically, this still includes early mornings and early evenings. If you have already released music on the streaming services, check your artist account statistics for when the best time of day to release music for your fans to check out your work the most.
Making a music video for your song is one of the most effective ways to get fans. Finding elements of the content material that make for exciting, vibrant visuals can be a huge amplifier for your releases.
One of the most impactful events to plan is hosting a video premiere. This can be a do-it-yourself event utilizing tools such as creating a Facebook Event, setting up a YouTube premiere, or using a service like Veeps or Bandsintown to talk about it like you would a live show.
The other option is to find a video marketing service like HIP Video Promo who can help you navigate a bigger press splash for its premiere with music promotion.
Whatever the marketing path, the video should be timed around the release of the song on streaming services. Some marketing pros think the single and video should premiere at the same time. Others (like me!) prefer releasing the audio version of the song first.
This gives fans a chance to form their own opinions about its meaning. And allows the video release to help tell the artistic point of view of the song through a strong visual.
As Killer Mike of the incredible band Run The Jewels says, ‘Plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize’. Once you’ve got the music ready for the masses, take the time to give it the best chance for an audience.
To summarise, before you release your music you should ask yourself the following questions:
Using a combination of synergy, planning, and focus will give you a huge advantage in finding the best time to release music. And you can prove to Mick Jagger that he isn’t the only musician with time on his side!
We hope that you found this article helpful. Be sure to check out our Checklist For Releasing Music for extra tips! Most importantly though, don’t forget to share this guide on your socials and tag us @musicgateway! We love interacting with you all!
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