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Know-how for musicians

Release planning – the checklist for musicians

January 8, 2018

At iGroove, we want to help our customers get the most out of every release. In order to do this, there is no way around good release planning and patience. Once you’ve finished recording your album, you would like to have it on sale immediately.

A music release needs to be well planned

However, solid planning can take anywhere from six months to a year, but the chances that your release will get the attention it deserves increase. Promotion must also be well-considered, because if you’re not an artist of the calibre of Beyoncé, you won’t be able to just throw your album on the market without notice.

For the sake of simplicity, we are assuming an album release including some singles and video singles for the release planning.

Release planning during production

Unless you’re trying to create a very mysterious image, it’s important to involve the fans in every step of the process to make them feel part of the whole. So release planning actually starts during the production.

Promote your music release in advance

Keep your fans up to date with pictures from the studio, small videos, first sound bites or whatever else comes to your mind. You shouldn’t concentrate on just one channel, but use the whole range.

Plan the release carefully

When the end of the production process is approaching, it is advisable to start with concrete release planning and to fix an (approximate) release date. As mentioned above, release planning does not start a few months before the release, on the contrary!

This 6-12 months lead time not only gives you security in planning, but also allows you to concentrate on the essentials in the decisive months before the release: to promote the release in the best possible way. Don’t forget to allow some time for unforeseen events, because they will definitely occur.

Also the targeted release date must be well thought out. January and February are recommended for independent releases. Concerning the festival season, the spring months are very popular and the competition on the market is accordingly big. June to August are considered to be the summer break – the only advantage of these months is that less competition releases.

Do not release at peak times

From September on, the releases increase significantly again and especially big names release their albums. The lucrative Christmas season is then fully major label time. You should also watch out for holidays and releases of acts that are similar to you. Of course this is only a rough guide and a rather general summary. If you are an artist who puts his priority on live activities, you should primarily plan your releases according to the tour schedule and not the season.

Our checklist for your release planning

The following checklist for your release planning should now show you which tasks should be tackled in which time frame. Again, this should be seen as a guide without general validity!

6-12 months before release

  • Create tentative budget / clarify financing
  • Apply for funding and note input data
  • Set up a detailed marketing plan (exact procedure of promotion in social networks and also outside the Internet)
  • Collect promotion contacts and compile media list
  • Update your biography
  • Writing press releases (even in times of social media, press work should not be neglected!)
  • Wherever you need help, get partners on board, for example for booking, PR, maybe even looking for a label (but then 6-12 months will be short again)
  • Tour planning / Organize record release party
  • If not yet online, set up your own website
  • Be present on all networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok etc.
  • Collect all contacts of your fans and create a list with the email addresses for your newsletter
  • Decide whether to release only digitally or also physically
  • If there should be CD, Vinyl or Tape, find the appropriate manufacturer
  • Should there be merchandise? Then have it designed, find a manufacturer and a distributor for your merchandise
  • You also have to find a distributor for your release (digital and physical). Our neutral tip for both: iGroove ;).
  • Have album covers, single covers and all graphics related to the release (e.g. banners, social media headers, flyers) created. Don’t save money here, because the artwork says almost as much about you as your music
  • Take professional photos
  • Where do I have my songs mixed and mastered? Again, it’s better to take too much time, because you might not be satisfied with the first mix.
  • Which songs are good as singles and when will they be released?
  • To which songs should videos be shot (and how many can you afford)?
  • Who do I work with for the video clips and do I already have an idea for the content?
  • Produce additional video content for promotion
  • If you have checked all the above points, you can now set a final release date and create the actual budget

3-5 Monate vor dem Release

  • Do you have all the necessary codes (ISRC / EAN / possibly label code)?
  • Shooting videos
  • Once you have the master and the artwork is finished, there is no reason to wait. Especially the vinyl manufactorers are extremely busy at the moment, which can lead to long delivery times.
  • Are there important magazines that have a long lead time (deadline)? Address them now, that you are in the issue close to the release!
  • Are the tour dates set? Then you can publish them now and start with the advance sale
  • Slowly but surely it’ s getting serious! Why not announce the release date of your album right now and upload the album to your distributor?
  • If the release is uploaded at the distribution, the songs for Instant Gratification must also be specified. Don’t forget: all pre-sales count for the first important chart week! So a long pre-sales phase has many advantages!
  • Send a newsletter to your fans and inform them about the upcoming release
  • If you also advertise in physical form (flyers, posters etc.), it is advisable to set up a Street Team.
  • Is it time for the first single, maybe even the first clip? Or do you want to heat up the fans’ anticipation with a free song ?
  • When the first single or clip is released, it’s time for the first media release (we generally recommend sending at least three media releases)

6-11 weeks before the release

  • At the latest in this period it is time for the first single
  • If you got the chance to release more than one video, now is the time for the first clip!
  • To generate additional income, you can monetize the clip.
  • To reach as many people as possible and to gain new fans, you should boost the video. Pre-roll advertising on YouTube is also possible.
  • Meanwhile the release date should be announced. Therefore the homepage has to be updated and tailored for the upcoming release. Maybe even install a countdown on the website!
  • In addition to website and social media, the profiles on Spotify, Apple Music etc. should not be forgotten. Post news here regularly as well!
  • Now that you hopefully got a hype for your release, this must be exploited. With re-marketing, you can reach the interested parties in a targeted manner and without large scattering losses. Try to collect as much data of your fans as possible in order to reach them in a targeted way.
  • Now produce the physical advertising material like flyers, stickers or posters.
  • Your fan community knows that the new album is coming. So now is the time to start the pre sale.
  • Inform your fans with a newsletter that the album can now be pre-ordered.
  • To avoid posting dozens of links, make sure you create a link site.

1-5 weeks before release

  • The release is coming closer, so now it is time to as much promotion as possible. Facebook advertising, re-marketing, banners etc. etc.!
  • In general, new content such as audio snippets, video teasers and other exclusive material must be added regularly.
  • If there is also physical promotion, it is now time to bring the flyers, posters or stickers to the people.
  • Now it is important to involve the fans. The one or other competition is certainly not wrong (Meet & Greet etc.)
  • By now at the latest, all your social media profiles and your website must be ready and in sync.
  • A few weeks before release the time has come for a new single and / or video. If necessary, put the video online the day before the single release, usually a Thursday.
  • Approach the media a second time with the single or video output
  • Another press release must be issued in the release week. At the latest then, the media should also be provided with samples of your music, so they know what they are writing about.
  • Besides the traditional media (radios, newspapers, magazines, television) don’t forget the blogs and depending on your music style it is also important to sample the DJ’s with your music, that they play it at parties, on the radio or their online sets.

On release day

  • The big day has arrived and everyone who visits one of your social media sites should notice this immediately!
  • Share your joy with your fans with a new newsletter with which you can also thank them for all pre-orders!
  • You still have money left? Well, invest it in targeted advertising, like a Facebook campaign
  • Did you have the opportunity to shoot more than two videos? Then save one for the release day to generate additional hype
  • Get drunk

After the release

  • Was your album a success? Then let everyone know! Post it on social media, send a thank you newsletter and a press release!
  • To stay in the limelight, it’s worth releasing another video a few weeks after the release
  • Always release a trailer to your videos, so you have more material for posts.
  • Did some songs not make it onto the album, but they still meet your quality standards? Then it is a good idea to release them a few weeks or months after the album. Either as a free gift to the fans, as a bonus EP or even as a deluxe edition of the album with additional songs. (Of course this has to be planned long in advance)
  • Another idea is to release remixes of some of your songs
  • Stay generally active on all channels and don’t rest, because in the fast moving music business this no longer exists!

How iGroove helps you with your release

There are many things iGroove can help you with on this checklist. We are also happy to actively support you with your release planning. Please contact us early enough (as we have seen over half a year before the planned release)!

Do you have questions about your release planning?

Then contact our support at or write us in the chat.

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