How to create a great music release plan (for free!)

If you’re looking to create a fantastic music release plan for your upcoming single, EP, or Album, then here are a few steps you can utilise without spending a dime.

It’s easier than ever to get your music out to the world but as a result, it can be equally as difficult to get heard above the noise. One way to be a step ahead however is to plan ahead and put together a robust release plan to ensure your current and new fans know what you’re about to drop.

Be warned though, a good plan requires a lot of patience, so be prepared to sit on gold while you make sure you have everything ready for release day!

Schedule your release up to six weeks ahead of release.

Although we absolutely know how it feels to want to get your music out to the world as soon as it’s finished unless you already have a fairly robust dedicated fanbase, it’s likely your music could get overlooked.

As we said, you’re going to have to exercise patience as the sooner you schedule your release, the more time you’ll have not only for editors on DSPs to check your music out, but also give you enough time to correct any potential hiccups that might crop up (such as incorrect metadata, music being pushed out too early, etc, etc.).

Planning this far ahead also gives you plenty of time to be able to fully prepare for launch and hopefully drive enough hype toward your release through social media, word of mouth, and more.

Look at it this way, distributing your music isn’t the most fun part of releasing music, so see it as getting this task out of the way ahead of time. Job done. Move on to the next, more fun thing.

Generate or grab a pre-save link or build a mailing list

Depending on your distributor you might be able to generate a pre-save link for your release. If you can, great! If not, don’t worry there are plenty of platforms out there for you to generate a pre-save link for free (such as Feature.fm, PUSH.fm, and MusicGateway) all you’ll need is your Spotify URI (which you should be able to grab via your Spotify for Artists once it’s there) – alternatively, reach out to your distributor to see if they’re able to give you the release URI.

While most of these do offer the option for users to enter their email addresses, building a dedicated newsletter audience could be beneficial in the long run. We’d recommend MailChimp for this as there’s a fairly robust free option, and it’s pretty user-friendly, too.

Utilising MailChimp you can create a bespoke sign-up form for fans to enter their email address and be notified of any new release or even future releases from you. This is a great way to retain audiences and keep fans who may not use social media that often, to hear directly from you, in their inbox.

A screenshot of the feature.fm website which allows you to create a pre-save link for your music release plan.

Build a social media calendar and post, post, post.

Here’s where you can bring creativity to your music release plan. Utilising social media is one of the best ways for you to get fresh eyes and ears on you and your music, respectively. If you don’t already, make sure you have a page on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok as, in our opinion, these platforms are the holy trinity of music marketing.

If you followed the above step, you now have at least six weeks to build hype around your release, not including the almost infinite number of weeks to push your music post-release. Depending on your workflow and available time we’d recommend looking to post something around your upcoming release at least once a week. That’s six different pieces of content leading up to release day at the very least.

This can be a simple Tweet about your upcoming release, a post in Instagram Stories, a video on TikTok talking or even teasing your music, or a simple music visualiser for Instagram Reels. We’d also recommend you make sure every post has some sort of call-to-action, whether that’s to pre-save your release or sign up for a newsletter to be notified of new music or simply follow you for more content.

Another absolutely vital thing you should be doing in every post about your upcoming release is ensuring some sort of key visual element from your album artwork is present, or better yet, making sure the artwork is present in some way whether as part of the thumbnail for the post, within the post itself, or as an end-card of any video content.

Pushing that visual element out to your socials might not necessarily have a lasting impression initially, the more you share those visuals, the more familiar people become and hopefully grab their attention when your music does enter the airwaves.

Create a playlist plan

Playlists are becoming one of the key ways to get your music out to new audiences. It makes sense for this to be included in your music release plan. Take this time to build a list of playlists for you to submit your music at launch.

First things first though, make sure once your music appears in your Spotify for Artists account as well as your Amazon for Artists account (as you can pitch to Amazon too!) you pitch your music to these platforms. It’s vital you do this as soon as you can to ensure your music isn’t overlooked. Make a note of this pitch somewhere too, as it will come in handy later.

After submitting Editors, now’s the time to get your playlist plan together. Here’s a handy template to get you started, so feel free to make a copy and start building out the sheet.

Due to the abundance of user-generated playlists on Spotify, it can be quite difficult to find playlists to submit, however, there are a few handy “hacks” to help with this. When searching for playlists you can add keywords such as “@gmail.com” or “gmail” to your search string, or even “submit” or “submissions”, and this usually brings up suggestions with submission options within the playlist description.

Another little “hack” we often utilise when there’s no submission information within the playlist description is to look at the tracks on the playlist, specifically multiple tracks by the same artist. While it’s not a guarantee, this can usually indicate that the playlist is owned by said artist (double check their artist profile under the “Artist Playlist” section to confirm) and then reach out to that artist directly.

A screenshot of a number of pop playlists on Spotify. Playlists are becoming a vital part of any music release plan.

These tricks only really apply to Spotify thanks to their stellar navigation, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t search for user-generated playlists on Apple Music, Deezer, Amazon, and Tidal – for example – and add them to the list.

Another tip for finding playlists is to not just stick with your genre, while looking for “Hip Hop” or “Pop” or “lofi” might yield some decent results, you’ll find even more options by searching for moods, activities, and overall vibes. Is your track happy? A summer tune? Is it sad? Search for it and you’ll likely find a handful of playlists that should hopefully fit the vibe check.

Finally, look at your peers. Utilise the “Discovered On” section of similar artists, find what user-generated playlists their music appears on and make a note of it.

Although this can be quite a chore, we’d recommend pulling together a good 50 or so playlists as it’s likely you’ll never hear back from some of the curators. Don’t hesitate to continue building your list as you pitch, either.

Once you have your list together, dedicate a few hours at launch to go through your list and pitch to curators. If you’re reaching out via DM be personal, don’t just drop your link and walk away, curators are humans, too.

Create an EPK for your release and seek out interested media

In a similar vein to the above Playlist Plan, a must-have for any music release plan is an electronic press kit (EPK) and a media list to pitch your music to.

In your EPK you’re going to need the following:

  • Artist images
  • Artist bio
  • Press releases
  • Artwork & other assets journalists might find useful
  • Private link to your upcoming release

While the first two points are pretty straightforward, creating a press release is going to be what grabs the attention of bloggers, tastemakers, and journalists. Hopefully, you made a note of your pitch to Editorial playlists as you’re going to need to expand this into something meatier.

Use this to not only tell the story of your release but also a little bit more about you. Highlight anything interesting about the release. Did you use any interesting instruments or anything weird to make sounds in your music? Tell them! Leveraging something unusual or unique is a great way to grab attention and secure potential coverage at launch.

Much like the playlist plan, you’ll want to go around to relevant music media and blogs and attempt to find contact information for journalists or editors.

Once you have your EPK and media list, we’d recommend reaching out around two weeks ahead of release to secure coverage at launch. This would require you to ask the journalist to accept an embargo (to not publish anything about the release until launch day). Many will likely accept and probably appreciate you reaching out ahead of the launch to give them time to get things together.

A screenshot of Pitchfork's featured music section titled The Pitch. This is one of many music publications artists should be pitching their music to while they work on their music release plan.

Don’t forget the DJs!

Now you have your EPK, it’d be a good time to also prep something for DJs. Get your music into the booths, whether that’s local or national radio stations, or simply club DJs.

There’s actually no real timeline on this, the sooner, the better, as you’re potentially giving yourself an opportunity to build hype around your release via people within the music industry who have their own audiences.

If you secure airplay and know when this is happening, record reactions to your music being played! Has a DJ at the club spun your record? Grab your phone, and record the reaction! Are people hyped? There’s even more fantastic content to post on social media!

Update everything on release day

With a hefty social media campaign prepared, playlist pitching prepped, and hopefully some media confirmations, it’s now time to make sure everything is shouting that it’s release day.

Make sure your website is updated with links to your music and make sure your social media bios are up to date. Update your Artist Pick on Spotify with your latest release. Post that your music is out now on all platforms! Tell the world, because you’ve earned it!

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As you can see a lot does go into creating a great music release plan, and understandably that can be a lot. Even more so if you’re an artist that’s still working or in study full-time and unable to dedicate quite as much time to your music as you’d like.

Fortunately, that’s where labels like Kiwi Bear Records come in, as we can help build and execute a killer music release plan and hopefully shoot your release to success. So why not get in touch to see how we can work together?

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