“Success in the music industry isn’t something that you wait for or hope for. It is something that you create, day after day.”
― Simon S. Tam, Music Business Hacks
There comes a time when a band reaches a new milestone, whether it’s releasing an album/EP/single or heading off on tour. It’s the kind of moment which signifies having ‘made it’ that little bit more. It’s not so much the performing or the recording that’s the hard part, but instead the preparation beforehand. PLANNING is the key to a successful music release and/or tour and can really ‘make or break’ an important milestone point in your career. It’s important to allow at least 3 months for planning before embarking on such endeavours.
“But what exactly should I be planning?” I hear you ask. Well, don’t panic! We’ve designed a handy little guide to make your planning that much easier. So let’s break it down! Also, prep yourself with these articles and videos before you start:
- Read: Your 12 Step Music Marketing Planning Cycle
- Watch: Releasing Your Music Course Modules
- Watch: Understanding Record Cycles Course Modules
STEP ONE: 12 Weeks Prior
Get the whole team on the same page!
Like any group environment, things don’t run smoothly if people aren’t on the same page. The same goes for artists and their teams! Every endeavour should have a clear end-goal or expectation, and it is crucial that all members of your team share this vision. This does not just include the band but also managers, booking agents, promoters, labels and anyone else who is contributing to the physical or creative process (even down to the graphic designer!). Discuss what (and when) you hope to achieve with as many experienced people as you can and get their feedback, and together and transparently build a solid and REALISTIC timeline and plan.
The first step towards making a realistic plan is to make sure you start with a budget and trim any lofty goals until you have a realistic set of figures (cut the fat!). This budget will inform you on just how far you can stretch your finances, and it can also help you set sales goals. This may involve hashing out how many tickets/merch/downloads you need to sell, whether or not you can hire a room or if you’ll need to crash on the support band’s living room couch, also if you can afford to do a run of posters, a couple of merch designs or just the one, etc.
If the release includes a tour, think carefully about touring destinations and the organisation involved. Playing Sydney > Perth > Cairns > Melbourne > Coffs Harbour > Brisbane > Adelaide over one week is quite a financial and logistical horror story and you would just never do it. Be savvy about when and where you play – can you actually GET to the venue with enough time to rest (and eat!), do interviews and promo before soundcheck? Pencil in your wishlist dates and locations, hand them over to whoever is responsible for booking the shows, then hope for the best! Start booking shows immediately.
Head to these links to find out more about planning for your next big step:
- Read: Building A Team In The Music Busines
- Watch: Touring Nationally and Internationally Course Modules
STEP TWO: 11 – 9 Weeks Prior
Prep & Finalise Your Assets!
We cannot stress enough how important this step is! (There’s a reason we call them ‘assets’). Before you even think about promoting a tour or album, you must ensure your brand is up to date! This means your artwork, EPK, website, social media, merch etc. are all ready and aligning with your current project. I know it’s tedious and not at all sexy, but it’s important that you look and operate like a professional if you want people in the industry to treat you as one.
But it doesn’t stop at just the band! Make sure any other touring partners assets and social media are up to date and reflective of the project! The aim of the game is to generate as much audience engagement as humanly possible, right? Right! So, make sure your content is reaching as many people as it can by sending your assets and materials to venues/publicists, ticket agencies etc., so they can accurately promote you across their channels. Think up a hashtag which represents the project, and make sure it’s included on all your pressers and goes out to all team members.
DON’T FORGET: Allow plenty of time for the design and delivery of these items, especially if you’re looking at producing physical items (posters, merch, CD/cassette/vinyl packaging etc.).
We have some handy how-to articles and course videos to help you make the most of your assets:
- Watch: Music Design Course Modules
- Watch: Press Kits Course Modules
- Read: Ways to Make Your Merchandise Venture More Successful
- Read: Simple Tips On promoting Shows
Once you’re happy with your finalised assets, you’re ready for the next step!
STEP THREE: 8 – 2 Weeks Prior
Pitch to the Media!
Ah, the media. Our best friend and (sometimes) worst enemy. We all dread this stage, but if you want anyone to actually know what you’re up to, it pays to be methodical and on top of this stuff! A lot of DIY musos skip this step completely, but why? Perhaps they didn’t get a response from where they reached out to or maybe they didn’t see the results they wanted to. But there are a few tips which will help to make this step as pain-free as possible.
First and foremost, consider employing a professional publicist and make use of their networks and contacts!
If that’s not an option, then do your homework. Knowing who and where you should be reaching out to will not only save you time, but possibly money too. There’s no point in reaching out to places which have no relevance to you or your project. Research where are the most beneficial places FOR YOU and contact them directly with a specific purpose. Hypemachine is a good place to start (also try 1, 2, 3). You can also search your favourite band and click on news stories links in google to see who they’ve been featured by, and follow their lead. Don’t just stick to the interwebs either. ABC and Community radio stations love having guests come in.
Secondly, remember that press releases aren’t a thing of the past yet and you should embrace them! Industry professionals DO read them (most of the time) and they’re a great way to get your name out there. So, make sure you include press releases when you reach this step and make them as professional as possible! But again, don’t forget to do your homework so you know where to send them for maximum impact.
Remember whatever you’re pitching, you’re also pitching yourself as an artist/band. Make sure you stand out, find an angle which makes you different from other artists/tours and use that to your advantage.
Check out at these resources to equip you with the extra know-how to riding the media beast:
This leads us to our fourth and final step. Drumroll, please!
STEP FOUR: 6 Weeks Prior – Event Week
Shout it from the rooftops!
We have now reached the most exciting step – promoting your project! Whether you’re releasing an album or heading off on tour, the people need to know! With all the technological advances over the past few years, we now live in a digital age, and therefore our online presence is just as important as our physical. There are so many tools and platforms available for an artist to promote their projects with and you should be using as many of those as possible. While on the surface social media is a seemingly straightforward process, when done right it requires a lot of thought. Consider a specific marketing plan: which platforms will feature which aspects of your campaign, understanding clearly the when’s, how’s and why’s.
Cross-platform promotion is the best way to guarantee as much reach as you can. This simply means promoting your posts/content across multiple social media networks. There are also additional tricks to increasing your impact on social media, like sponsored ads. If you’ve ever used Facebook or Instagram, you likely would have seen a post with this label before. For a small fee to these companies, your post will be promoted and can be a great method of gaining more exposure – make sure you read up on how to target your audience for these sponsored ads. Another tip is to use hashtags! You’ll be surprised at how much engagement can come from a hashtag! Additionally, don’t underestimate the power of influencers (editors note: ugh, I know, *shudder*). Micro-influencers (those Instagram/Facebook profiles with 25K+ followers) are often a realistic option when considering online promotional tools. The price of this is often dependant on their reach/following, but sometimes you will find those who are just happy to help out for a free CD/vinyl/tshirt or gig ticket (What a great trade!). It’s also important to note that businesses can be influencers too, so once again do your homework and see what will work for you. The most important tip with Social Media and online promotions is to be consistent. Be consistent with your branding, with your post frequency and your profile themes.
For more helpful advice see:
AND NOW YOU MIGHT JUST BE READY TO ROCK’N’ROLL!
If you’ve followed a thoughtful and methodical plan prior to releasing an album or heading off on tour, you’ve given yourself the best chance of success. Remember that the Music Industry is a business, so for the three months that you’re planning, put your business hat on. There’s plenty of time to be a rockstar after!