Marketing Plan Tactics For Independent Musicians – Part 2 of 3: Album Launch

Album Sales
The first piece in this 3 part series discussed steps you should take before you start promoting a new album, such as having your online presence all in order. In Part 2, I will go over some basic elements for, yep you guessed it, promoting a new album.

Album Pre-Sale

A great way to build excitement amongst your fanbase leading up to the release of a new album is to organize a pre-sale campaign. Hold a contest, where everyone that makes a pre-sale purchase is entered in to win a prize. Prizes could be additional merchandise, tickets to the CD release show, or if you really wanted to get crazy, offer to write and record a song about the winner. From your online store, you should have a few different pre-sale packages at different price points available. For example: – Tickets to CD release show and digital album – Autographed CD and tickets to release show – Autographed CD, T-Shirt and tickets to release show and make sure everyone who purchased the album during the presale gets their purchase by the release day (that’s the point of the pre-sale!), so mail out any packages a week beforehand and send them a digital download of the album by release day or better yet, the day before.

Press Campaign

A big component when promoting a new album is the press campaign, working with either a PR company to handle your press outreach or going the DIY route. I talk to many independent artists who don’t see the point in a press campaign for their new release, usually because either an artist they know, or they themselves, had spent thousands of dollars on a PR company in the past with little to no results. I definitely feel for artists here, but ignoring press completely is not the solution. When hiring a publicist make sure your music is a good fit with their existing roster and that the publicist has a well thought out plan for the campaign, and most of all, honestly likes your music. An expensive campaign with a PR company that has some major label big name clients is not by any means a slam dunk that you will get “tons” of “great” press for your independent release, and many times will be the exact opposite. Try contacting boutique PR firms that can offer more personal attention or PR companies that are focused on independent artists. A PR company will work with you on making sure you are prepared and will handle the press outreach, but if you’re going with a do-it-yourself approach here are some tips and strategies for an effective campaign:

Pictures Make sure you have at least 3-4 great press shots. And variety is very important, so try and have both landscape and portrait options, and some that are in color and also some that are black & white. Taking the photos in interesting locations or while dressed in “wacky” outfits are good to have, too to help make you stand out, but you should also have some simple and more straight forward shots.

Bio I know I said these were all “DIY” tips, but I’d suggest hiring a professional writer to write your bio. Even if you are a great writer, it can be hard to write about yourself or your own band. A professional writer will be able to write a compelling bio and one that can effectively convey all the important details while keeping in mind the audience, which in this case is press and music industry folk.

Press Outreach The first people to target should be local press and press outlets that have written about you in the past (if applicable). When contacting blogs make it personal, say Hi and their name, and then start off by saying how much you liked a recent post of theirs, before launching in about the new album. Include a download link to a song from the new album that they can give away for free, blogs love to offer free music to their readers. Follow up about once a week and if you’ve received some press since the last time you contacted them, make sure to include a link and press quote in the follow up email. Then as I touched on in Part 1, plan ahead so you will have content for multiple press releases for the months after the album comes out, such as a new music video and tour dates, as you don’t want to just keep sending out the same message about the new album over and over, but you do want to keep contacting press and drilling it home that you are someone who deserves to be noticed.

Launch Timeline

Plan some milestones starting from two months before the release date to at least one month after the album comes out. Here is how this could look:

Two Months Before Release – Release a single, a great way to get the fans excited and also to get some current press quotes to include when contacting press about the full length album – Announce to your fans that tickets are for sale for the CD release show

One Month Before Release – Press campaign begins for new album – Announce pre-sale campaign through your newsletter, and social networks including Facebook and Twitter – Set up a Facebook invite for the new release, send it to all your Facebook friends and post on your Fan Page

Two Weeks Before Release – Keep the excitement going, hold a contest to win a copy of the new album or tickets to CD release show

Release Day Activities – Write a news post about the release on your official website – Send out a Newsletter to mailing list – Update Twitter and Facebook with an “album out now” post and link to where they can purchase it.

One Month After The Release – Service press with official music video and announce tour dates. Again, the more activities you can plan leading up to the release will help build the excitement with your fans, and the more press points you can arrange for after a release will enable you to keep contacting press with new content, while at the same time reminding them about the new album. Also, don’t forget to ask your family, friends, and fans to write reviews of your new album on iTunes and other digital retailers the minute it becomes available. Studies have shown that albums that are reviewed at iTunes actually sell more than albums with little to no reviews posted. In the next and final post, I will talk about supplying content while you’re in between album cycles, as a means to stay relevant and fresh with your current fans, and to increase your fanbase as well.

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