As an independent artist, releasing music can be a daunting task. You may be asking yourself, how do I make sure my music reaches the right people? The truth is, there is no one right way to release music. Each artist must find the strategy that works best for them. In this article, we will discuss how to release music as an independent artist. We will explore the different techniques available and how to best utilize them to ensure your music is heard. We will also discuss how to maximize the impact of your release and ultimately how to promote your music. If you’re ready to learn how to release music the best way, let’s get started with some answers to basic questions that everyone has been asking.
1. Is it hard to release music?
Releasing music can be challenging, but with the right planning and preparation, it can be done effectively and efficiently. After all, new music from indie musicians is released every single day. It is important to create a plan, establish a timeline, and select a release strategy that best fits your needs. Additionally, working with a team of professionals to help with distribution, promotion, and marketing can significantly improve the quality of the release. Taking the time to understand the tools and platforms available to help promote and distribute music can make the release process much easier.
2. How do beginners release music?
So, you’re an independent artist that is releasing music for the first time. You don’t have a label, a distributor, a publisher, a manager…how do you release music as a complete beginner? Don’t worry, there are solutions for you. Some indie artists choose to just release music completely on their own by uploading their songs to sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Most independent musicians, however, know the importance of getting their music on streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Deezer, and more. Most music lovers use these streaming services to listen to music nowadays and for music discovery. To make sure your new releases are uploaded to streaming platforms and heard by the most listeners possible, you need to use a digital distributor.
One of the best ways for a beginner to release music and get on these streaming platforms is to use third party distributors. These digital distribution services were made with the indie musician in mind. For a fixed fee, they provide a platform to get your music on major streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, Napster, and more. They will also handle the legal and technical aspects of distributing your music, such as metadata and registering your music with collection societies, so you can focus on the creative side of releasing your music. Furthermore, they typically provide analytics for artists so you can track the performance of your music. Here is a list of the most popular digital distribution services that indie musicians use these days:
3. How much does it cost to release music?
Depending on which digital music distribution service you choose, the cost to release music varies from platform to platform. The cost can also vary depending on what you are releasing: a single, an EP, or an album. Some of these music distributors function with a one time fixed fee per song or project and others are based on subscriptions. Let’s go through each of the digital distribution platforms listed above to see how much it costs to distribute your music with each of them.
DistroKid works on a subscription basis, offering independent musicians the chance to release unlimited albums and singles for $19.99 per year. They are known to be one of the fastest digital distribution services out there, and once you upload your music, it takes about 1-7 days for your release to appear on streaming services.
CD Baby has different fixed prices per music release and also standard and pro pricing. They often have promotions to pay less, but their usual pricing is as follows: $9.95 for a standard single, $29.95 for a pro single, $29 for a standard album, and $69 for a pro album. With this fixed price, there are no annual fees or subscriptions. You can check out the chart on their pricing page to see the benefits of a pro release versus a standard release.
Tunecore offers both subscription plans and pay-per-release plans. They have unlimited plans that vary by what stage you are at in your career and offer more advantages depending on what you pay. These include: the new artist subscription for free, the rising artist plan at $14.99/year, the breakout artist plan at $29.99/year, and the professional artist subscription at $49.99/year. Their pay-per-release fees during the first year of distribution are $9.99 for a single, $29.99 for an album, and $19.99 for a ringtone. After the first year of distribution, the album price goes up to $49.99 each following year.
Ditto Music works on a subscription plan per artist per year. For $19 per year, an artist can put out as much music as they like. For $29 per year, you can put out unlimited music for two artists. Basically, you can increase your subscription plan depending on how many artists you want to be releasing music for.
4. How can I release a song for free?
If you don’t want to pay anything to release your music, you can certainly release a song for free. However, you won’t have the advantage of being on streaming platforms. Some of the digital distribution services listed above offer promotions for new artists to release their first single for free, but eventually you will have to pay something to be on streaming services.
If you want to release a song for free, you can do this by uploading it to sites like SoundCloud, Bandcamp, or YouTube. You can also get creative and make it available for download on a platform like Dropbox or Google Drive and share it with your fans. However, if you are really looking to start your independent music career, we strongly advise you to be present on streaming services. It’s not expensive to go through the digital distribution platforms listed above, and it can make all the difference in boosting your visibility!
5. Step by Step Strategy: How do I release my own music
Now that we’ve got the basic questions answered, here is how to release music step by step. By following this outline, you can ensure that your music is heard and enjoyed by as many people as possible. It will also help you stay organized and not get overwhelmed!
Step 1: Start by building a fanbase on social media
As an independent artist, building a fan base on social media before releasing your own music is essential. First, you should create a strong online presence by setting up professional social media accounts on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. If you just want to focus on one or two platforms, and we recommend this to begin with, Instagram and TikTok are probably the best for indie musicians.
Next, reach out to your friends and family and ask them to follow and share your accounts. Also, look for other independent artists in the same genre as you and follow them. This will help build awareness and increase your followers. Finally, create engaging content that will attract and retain your fans. Post teasers of upcoming music, photos and videos of live performances, and behind the scenes snippets of your music journey. Share links to playlists you’ve curated on music streaming services to indie music in the same genres as you. All of this publicity will help create anticipation and keep your fans and subscribers engaged.
Step 2: Make sure your music is radio ready- properly mixed and mastered
The biggest mistake that independent artists sometimes make is releasing music before it is fully finished. You’ve spend all this time writing new lyrics, composing catchy melodies, recording demos and then the final tracks. Make sure you spend equally as much time getting your music properly mixed and mastered. Mixing and mastering your music before releasing it is essential for achieving professional-sounding results.
Mixing involves adjusting the levels of individual instruments and vocals in order to achieve the desired balance, while mastering applies additional treatments such as EQ, compression, and limiting to help the track sound its best. When done correctly, mixing and mastering help to ensure that the track sounds the same on all systems and devices, giving it a more consistent sound. Some indie artists choose to take on the mixing and mastering process themselves, but most rely on professionals to do this. Take the time to find the right people to mix and master your tracks- it will pay off in the long run.
Step 3: Decide who you want to create professional partnerships with to release your music
When deciding who to create professional partnerships with to release your music, it is important to choose partners that align with your vision and goals. Partnerships could include various structures present in the music business: music labels, managers, publishers, press agents, and traditional distributors. Who could be interested in your project and what resources could they offer you? What are the current needs of your musical project? Could releasing your music with a label give you more exposure than what you can get on your own? Building strong relationships with the right partners can make a huge difference in how successful your music is and your artist development. Be sure to find partners that bring something to the table and that you can trust. Check out our article on who you need on your team to accelerate your music career and when.
Step 4: Pitch your music to potential partners
So, you’ve decided that you want to release your music with a label or that you want to hire a publicist to promote your music. If you know you want to bring more professional players into your project, you need to prepare a convincing pitch. Introduce yourself with a short biography to catch the attention of your reader. It is important to be clear and concise in describing your project and why it is unique. Be prepared to share your goals and objectives for your project, as well as a timeline for release. If the potential partner is interested, your release planning will be that much easier with this added structure and support.
Step 5: Going fully independent? Find the right distributor
Not interested in pitching your music to indie labels and want to release your music fully independently? Find the right third party distributor that fits your needs and budget among the list above. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting your music across streaming platforms. Sure, some indie artists get big on Soundcloud or Bandcamp, but if you want to legitimize your artist status and boost your visibility, it is essential to have your music on streaming platforms. On the plus side, if you choose to release your music independently with one of these digital distributors, you get to keep all of the royalties. Once you’ve found the independent distributor that meets your needs, don’t rush into uploading your music right away for release. You need to define a release strategy first.
Step 6: Define a release strategy- waterfall release
Before you release a single, EP, or album, it’s important to define a release strategy. We can’t all be Beyoncé and drop a new album out of the blue and go viral. More and more indie musicians are using the waterfall strategy to release music these days.
The waterfall strategy involves releasing a single track first and then, as more and more people hear it, releasing more tracks over time. This helps to build momentum, boost your streams, and increase the visibility of your music. It is the strategy that works best for getting the attention of Spotify’s algorithm and getting more streams. By planning a waterfall release, you can strategically plan out your release schedule and promote each single as it releases. In doing so, you can create multiple marketing campaigns around each new single and ensure that you reach the widest possible audience. Make sure you also submit music for playlist consideration in your Spotify for Artists profile at least 7 days before release. Check out our article all about how to release singles using the waterfall strategy here.
Step 7: Create content to support your release- visuals, music videos, behind the scenes
When independent artists release music nowadays, there is usually a lot more to it than just making a great song. Artists are now expected to have a visual identity in addition to a sonic one. This means creating content such as music videos, live sessions, and behind the scenes clips. It is important to have great visuals to entice people into your musical universe.
Visuals could include artwork for the release, promotional photos of the artist, and/or visuals that support the release’s theme. Music videos are a great way to increase exposure of your music release. This could be a big production clip, a homemade video, or even a simple lyrics video. Behind the scenes content can also give fans an inside look at the process of creating the release. Keep a visual diary of rehearsal footage or days in the studio. All of these types of content provide great opportunities to promote the release and create excitement around it.
Step 8: Get organized with a promotional calendar
Once you have your music and visuals prepared, get organized with a promotional calendar. You will be able to schedule your release dates as well as days leading up to the big day where you share visuals to tease the release. Creating a promotional plan to release music as an independent musician is key to ensure success. Check out our article on the best time to release music and base your release schedule around this.
As an independent artist, most of the promotion surrounding your releases will happen through your communities on social media. Schedule posts at the best times of the day to engage with your fans and ask them to subscribe to your profile on streaming platforms. The most important thing to remember is to give yourself enough time to plan. Make sure there is also the right amount of time between releases to keep the momentum of your project going!
Step 9: Get in touch with media- music promotion with Groover
You’ve done all you can to promote your music within your own circles, now it’s time to get in touch with media. Promote your music with Groover: an innovative platform that allows independent artists to get in touch directly with professionals in the music industry with a response guaranteed. For 2 Grooviz (or 2 euros), an artist can send their music and a pitch to an influencer of their choosing- media, radio, playlists, labels, journalists, etc.- and get guaranteed feedback within 7 days. When promoting your music independently, Groover is a great way to get exposure and potential press coverage. Having the media talk about your musical project is crucial in exposing your music to new audiences, but also in legitimizing your place in the industry. The more people are talking about your music, the more opportunities you can get down the line.
Step 10: Book a release show and play live
Apart from releasing and promoting your music online, it’s important to have a presence in the real world too! You should plan some gigs around your releases to promote your music. If you have merchandise to sell like Cds, vinyls, or t-shirts, playing live shows is a great place to sell your merch. Booking an album release show is a great way to celebrate all of your hard work. Playing live is key in making a name for yourself and developing professional connections in the music industry. Want to bring your music on the road and reach new fans? Check out our article on how to book your own tour as an independent artist.
Conclusion: How to release music as an indie artist
With the right tools and resources, it is possible to successfully create, promote, and release your music independently. Taking the time to research, network, and build relationships with other artists and industry professionals can help you maximize your potential and get your music out there. Ultimately, it comes down to getting creative with your music promotion and release strategies in order to get your music heard. Good luck!