Essential Steps to Release Music in 2023: A Guide for Independent Artists
Sep 21, 2023

Essential Steps to Release Music in 2023: A Guide for Independent Artists

Fernando Catalán
Fernando Catalán

Releasing music without the backing of a label, and striving to stand out can be quite an adventure. It means juggling various aspects and taking on multiple roles. While being an independent artist can have its tough moments, it can also be a thrilling journey when you have the right strategy and tools in your arsenal.

A 2023 report by Luminate disclosed that 120k songs are daily uploaded to streaming platforms. This highlights the importance of having a well-crafted strategy for releasing music. Beyond simply uploading to platforms like Spotify, a thoughtful approach with timing, promotion, audience understanding, and digital engagement is vital. This empowers artists to expand their reach, build anticipation, and make a lasting impact. This article explores key components of an effective music marketing plan for independent artists, from song creation to planning, marketing, and promotion.

It all starts with a song

In this phase of your musical journey, creativity takes center stage. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for creating good music, and that’s why we’ll delve into other vital aspects beyond the creative processes. By studying the masters of the craft, we can uncover certain actions that can significantly enhance your ability to start on the right foot and adapt to various scenarios with finesse:

  • Document your songwriting process. Make it a habit to thoroughly document your songwriting process. This not only keeps your ideas organized but also provides invaluable insights into your creative evolution. Use a notebook, record your ideas, create a song catalog, etc.
  • Learn about registering your songs with Performance Rights Organizations. Get well-versed in the process of registering your songs with Performance Rights Organizations. This safeguards your intellectual property and ensures you receive all the royalties you deserve for your music.
  • Broaden your creative horizons through collaborative efforts. Expanding your creative horizons and boosting productivity can be achieved through co-writing with other musicians. Collaboration often leads to fresh perspectives and innovative musical directions.
  • Consider creating alternate versions. Offering different versions of your songs can be a strategic move to expand your reach and appeal to a broader audience. To make this possible, always ensure you have the stems of your music available.

Check how Action Plans can support your music release.

Planning Your Release

A daily influx of new music floods the music streaming platforms. So, how can you effectively expand your audience among the vast sea of new music, particularly when you don’t have the support of a dedicated PR team? The most effective starting point is to create a carefully considered plan. Here are some recommendations for shaping an independent release campaign.

A structured release plan offers greater and lasting benefits compared to releasing music as soon as it’s done
  • Setting goals. Start by defining your release goals. What are you hoping to achieve with the single? Do you want to reach a new audience, or are you looking to build on the success of your previous releases? Once you’ve determined your goals, it’s important to choose a release date that will help you meet those goals.
  • Create a timeline with key dates/deadlines. This will help you visualize key dates up until release day. Allow at least 5 weeks so you’re not in a mad rush and you give yourself time to build anticipation with your fans. (Get industry-expert strategy templates for your upcoming single)
  • Choose the right digital distributor for you. Research and evaluate different music distributors to find the one that best fits your genre, audience, and budget. Additionally, consider those that offer extra services beyond mere distribution to further enhance your music’s reach and impact. Discover how to distribute your music to the main digital stores in 2023.
  • Claim your artist profile on music streaming platforms. After your music is delivered to these platforms, be sure to claim your profile and take the opportunity to update your bio and arts to ensure consistent branding.

Above all, remember not to rush. A structured release plan offers greater and lasting benefits compared to releasing music as soon as it’s done.

Market & Promote

Creating an effective marketing plan takes time, so be patient and set achievable goals. Begin by asking yourself: “What do I need to achieve to feel successful about my release, by when, and how I make it happen?”

  • Develop a concrete marketing plan. Your marketing strategy should consist of actionable steps you can complete and mark as done. Focus on:
    • Your brand and message.
    • Your target audience.
    • Your communication channels.
    • Your content calendar.
  • Plan your PR. Gaining exposure in the right circles can be challenging. A comprehensive PR campaign can significantly enhance your chances of being noticed and making an impact in the music industry. Start by creating a contact list that includes influential blogs and tastemakers, and craft personalized pitches for them.
  • Plan your pre-save campaign. Beyond building anticipation for your release, a pre-save campaign can help indicate to the DSPs that there is some level of buzz around your release, which in turn may influence editorial decisions and how the algorithms place your music in front of listeners.
  • Build your playlist strategy. Music streaming platforms have extensive user bases and provide tools to help you promote your music to new listeners. For instance, Spotify allows you to pitch your music to editorial playlists through Spotify for Artists.
  • Plan your key posts. Social media plays a crucial role in generating anticipation before a music release. To boost engagement, incorporate elements such as tease content and incentive posts. It’s important to recognize that the promotional efforts shouldn’t be limited to the release day. There are various strategies to maintain momentum, including Q&A live sessions and collaborations with influencers.
  • Add and sync lyrics to Musixmatch. Add and sync lyrics with Musixmatch, a free platform that sends lyrics data to various streaming platforms, including Spotify and Instagram Stories. This enhances fan engagement and boosts SEO for your music.

While we’ve covered some essential steps for a successful music marketing campaign for your release, there are many more aspects to explore and consider. If you’re seeking further guidance and access to additional tips and resources, we encourage you to create an Action Plan with Family in Music for free. Our mission is to assist independent artists in making informed choices and providing access to the best tools and insights for creating, distributing, and promoting their music. That's why we created The Artist Platform.

With our expert-designed Action Plans, you can streamline your music release process, stay on top of deadlines, and customize plans to your needs.