Launching a music publicity campaign

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This excerpt from Disc Makers' Planning Your Album guide addresses things you should do as you enter your music publicity phase and prepare to launch a PR campaign.

If you’re preparing to record and make an album, there’s a lot to think about; from converting the cover art to the right format to clearing the rights for your cover songs. Dealing with these issues can cause your album to take a lot longer to complete than you'd planned. Here's a list of things to do as part of your music publicity campaign.

1. Plan your PR campaign

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This includes your overall strategy for the album release and the live shows you do in support of it. Most bands do both a new media campaign (podcasts, music blogs, MP3s, entertainment blogs), as well as a traditional media campaign (newspapers, magazines, and radio).

Promotion requires creativity. Music publicity is not just mechanically compiling lists and following steps. It can and should be creative and fun. You should be channeling the same creativity you put into your music to build excitement and buzz about your upcoming album at the planning stage.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Run a contest
  • Make a video (or video series)
  • Partner with a blog or podcast

Did you know that YouTube is the biggest music search engine in the world? Beyond being an amazingly powerful medium for generating awareness and sales of your music, it also can be monetized and generate revenue for you – and video is the only true viral media on the web.

2. Set up alerts with your song titles and album name

You should keep up on what people are saying about your new album and songs. It starts with setting up a Google Alert with the name of your band and album.

3. Update your music resume

Your “music resume” contains the following important brand elements:

  • Your photo
  • Your bio
  • Your press kit (online and offline)
  • Your fact sheets
  • Your gig schedule

These are the documents you’ll either send out to bloggers, the press, and reviewers or update online to deliver more information. Updating these ahead of time will save you stress when you make your PR push or people start asking you for them. Plus, by crafting the message and tone for your promotion and release with these items, you can repurpose the content as you update your website and social presences.

4. Prepare press releases

Sending a press release is a simple way to notify the media of your album and CD release show. They’re not difficult to write and there are free press wires that will help you blast out your release to the media.

5. Compile your target PR lists

There are plenty of outlets you can target to get your music reviewed and heard. You’ll want to compile a list of:

  • Traditional local and national press
  • New media press
  • Album review press, magazines, zines, and websites
  • Music blogs
  • Non-music blogs covering topics in your niche
  • Commercial, college, and public radio stations
  • Internet radio stations
  • Music podcasts
  • Non-music podcasts covering topics in your niche

When submitting your music or materials, always obey the rules of submission. Don’t miss out on coverage by making their life more difficult. If you find a platform that looks like it may play your music but lacks details about submitting, reach out to the blogger, podcaster, or website owner directly.

6. Work with your street team

People, not technology, make things happen, and your fan network is no exception. Involve your fan network early in your music publicity efforts and keep them up to date about the upcoming album. Involve these fans, ask for their help, and give them exclusive cuts from the album and other goodies as a reward and to whet their appetites.

7. Maintain and update your artist website

Don’t rely on social networks – you need a website. Social platforms like Facebook are important for promotion, but these are your social presences – you need a home base, with your own domain, which you control and where you’re not competing against advertising.

Once you update your music resume documents, update your website to announce the release and feature your new album. This should include adding songs and videos on your site, as well as blogging about the upcoming release to generate interest.

8. Update your social platforms

Update your social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) with news about your upcoming release. Drive fans to your mailing list and blog so they can stay informed when the album drops. Add the “radio single” to your website and audio players.

9. Contact your mailing list

Nothing justifies an email campaign or newsletter like a new album release, shows, and news about the promotion and press being generated.

Get your free Disc Makers guide, Planning Your Album From beginning to End.

Billboard magazine called Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan “the ideal mentors for aspiring indie musicians who want to navigate an ever-changing music industry.” Together, they’re musicians who are working on their 21st album, authors of The Indie Band Survival Guide: The Complete Manual For The Do-It-Yourself Musician, 2nd Edition (Macmillan), creators of the 15-hour online course, Making Money With Music (CreativeLive), and regular contributors to Electronic Musician magazine, including the free weekly web column, "The DIY Advisor."