This is an excerpt from “Countdown to Maximum Exposure,” a free PDF guide written by IndieGuide.com and CD Baby for musicians who are preparing to release a new album within the next year.
Make sure you take care of these prep steps before diving into your promotional campaign.
Set An Official Release Date For Your Album
Between now and then, investigate distribution options, as well as looking into any outside radio promotion or PR help you’ll be enlisting.
Decide on the Release Event
Most artists have a release party, but if you don’t play live, you can set up a listening party instead. Don’t let an internet fanbase stop you from having a party: you can perform live on webcam through a video service like Ustream or Livestream.
If you decide to have a release party, give yourself time to publicize the show. Invite the media to come and add them to the guest list.
Receive the CD
If you duplicated or replicated CDs, have them in hand before starting the publicity process — long before you make it available to your fans. There are two reasons for this. First, the goal is for you to organize your release so that media coverage hits around the same 1 or 2-month window of time.The traditional media takes months to cover a story.The new media takes just a week or so.The art is to time it so they both give you coverage at the same time your album comes out.You’ll need to give both kinds of media CDs to review in order to get them to cover the story. Second, you’ll want to make sure your album is available for purchase just ahead of the publicity. Otherwise, you’ll waste all of your hard work.
Enter the CD into Gracenote/Freedb
If you’ve ever wondered how your CD player knows the album name and track info when you pop it in, it’s because of Gracenote MusicID (gracenote.com) and FreeDB (freedb.org).These services scan the CD, and once they recognize it, pull down the track information. Of course, when it comes to your new album, there’s no way it knows this information yet. So, when you first get your disc, you need to make sure that it is in this system, and enter it if it isn’t.
Start the Digital Distribution process
Unfortunately, you can’t control when digital music stores like iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, and the others actually make your album available. Even major bands have trouble with this timing. Make sure to put it in well in advance of your release date so that when your press hits, people can buy it. This may lead to it being available before your release party, but the only thing worse than having it available too early is to not have the disc available for sale at all when the press covers you. To sign up your album for both physical AND digital distribution through CD Baby, click HERE.
Prepare MP3s of Your Album for Press and Social Media
The New Media typically will want MP3s of your music emailed to them for review, not necessarily the CD. Once you have your CD, you should rip the files into high-quality MP3 format (at least 128kps). The key step here is to enter the ID3 tags–all of them. Don’t just stop with the band name and song title.
For more information about how best to encode your MP3s, see IndieGuide.com’s How To Encode Your MP3s For Maximum Playability. And, to learn more about how to properly ID3 tag your music, check out IndieGuide.com’s How To Create MP3s So Your Fans Will Always Find You.
Update Your Press Kit
You’ll want to update all of your press materials with the information about your newest album, including the artwork. For help in creating a press kit, see IndieGuide.com’s How To Make A Press Kit.