Ten cardboard boxes arrive in the mail containing a thousand shrink-wrapped CDs. You’re feeling pretty proud. All those precious hours writing, practicing, scrimping & saving, recording…
All for NOTHING!!!
… unless, of course, you can get other folks to take an interest in your music and actually LISTEN. But how?
The DIY Musician’s Post-Recording Checklist
When your album is finished, your work is only half done; and oftentimes, that first half is the easy part.
Radio promotion, PR, booking, web maintenance, and all the other “business” elements of a music career generally don’t come naturally to artists. But if you can learn to embrace the fact that these tasks NEED to get done in order for anyone to hear your music (and chances are that no one else is going to handle all those things FOR you), then you’ll eventually find a sense of fun and accomplishment in the non-musical chores too!
So, here goes:
1) Make sure you have 3 or 4 great band/artist photos-
Promotion goes in waves, and it’ll help “keeps things fresh” to have a few options in the band photo department. Choose your favorite two pictures to post on your website and social media profiles, to include in physical press kits (though they’re usually not required), and to make available for high-resolution download on your website’s press/media page.
Then 3-6 months later when the initial buzz from your release wears off, you can update your site with the next batch of photos (perhaps from a different location, with different outfits, different vibe, etc.). The new photos could coincide with a tour, benefit, video release, or some other newsworthy event that helps remind the press and fans about your recent album.
2) Put your press kit together-
A press kit should include your band bio, notable quotes from past reviews, contact info, and most importantly– what is happening with your band RIGHT NOW that is exciting– a copy of your new album, of course! Also, it’s up to you whether you treat this like a traditional multi-item press kit or print up one-sheets (where all the relevant info is on one sheet of paper), but you’ll need to have a “press release” mindset here. Your press kit needs to convince critics and journalists to care about you. Talk about why your music is unique and amazing without overselling it or making impossibly bold statements like “the greatest thing since Radiohead.”
Here are two articles about what makes a good press kit:
3) Update your websites-
Got new music? New artwork? New band photos? New… news? Show dates? New bio? Make sure to update your website and all your social media profiles.
4) Submit your album to Gracenote and AMG-
Ya know how when you put a CD in your iTunes player, it recognizes the songs? That is the work of a magical musical database called Gracenote. Click here to find out how to submit your music to Gracenote.
Ever wonder how those official-looking artist bios and album reviews end up on iTunes artist/album pages? That’d be the work of All Media Guide (formerly All Music Guide). Click here to find out how to submit your music to All Media Guide.
5) Line up distribution-
For a one-time fee of $49, CD Baby will distribute your music to all the major digital retailers (iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Rhapsody, etc.), stock physical copies of your album (CD or vinyl) in our warehouse and handle order fulfillment/shipping to your customers, make your album available to over 2500 brick and mortar record stores worldwide, collect money for the usage of your music on YouTube, and provide you with the tools you need to sell your music (MusicStore for Facebook app, Music Store Widget, linkmakers, and more).
6) Book a CD release party-
Now that your CDs are in your hands, it’s safe to book your album release party! Work with the venue to make this a special evening for you and your fans. You probably won’t have another night like it for the next couple years, right?
7) Mail press kits to “the media”-
Once you’ve got a firm date and a supporting bill worked out for your CD release party, let the world know! Mail your press kits to the “the media,” including weeklies, newspapers, magazines, blogs, local radio, podcasts, etc. If you’re a local band who doesn’t do much touring, focus your PR efforts on your region, letting people know about your new album and your release show.
If you’re a nationally touring act, expand your campaign accordingly. (Obviously at that point you’ll be telling the press about your new album and a whole tour, rather than just a single show).
For some advice on how to approach the media, check out this interview with former Willamette Week music editor Amy McCullough from the CD Baby DIY Musician Podcast.
8) Launch a DIY radio promotion campaign-
Radio is STILL important, believe it or not. But you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a commercial radio promoter. Instead, narrow your focus and send your new CD to college, community, satellite, internet radio, and podcasts.
9) Create video content-
YouTube is fast becoming the world’s most popular music-discovery website. And videos are a great way to get your music in front of new fans. Here’s some advice on how to create and promote compelling music video content that will help you sell records.
10) Coordinate your social media and email newsletter efforts-
11) Get your name and logo out there-
Burn your logo and band name into the memories of everyone who sees them. Make posters for your show; hang them up around town. Create artwork for online promotion; share it! Repeat, repeat, repeat.
If you can make the time commitment, touring is a great way to earn new fans, make new connections and friends, garner more press and radio attention, improve your performances, and to generate content (photos, essays, videos, etc.) for your blog and social media efforts.
Start performing regionally; as your fanbase grows, so will the ground you cover.
I hope this list helps you organize your efforts after those CDs arrive in the mail. Did I forget anything? Let me know in the comments section below.
-Chris R. at CD Baby