Whether you’re a seasoned artist or a newbie in the music industry, the truth stands that album releases are nerve-wracking.
There will be a lot of risks involved in launching an album. And in order to avoid them and to ensure album release success, everything has to be prepared months in advance.
If you’re not as prepared as you should be, you’re practically inviting disaster.
There’s no need to worry though because we’re here to help.
Here in this article, we’ve made a checklist of the things you need to prepare for your album release.
Table of Contents
#1. MUSIC COPYRIGHT
You already own the copyright of your music the second it’s in a fixed format— e.g. sheet music, music scribbled on any paper, recorded, etc.
The task you have to do is to register that copyright so that the law will be able to protect you in case of infringement.
Registering your copyright in the US is very easy to do since you can do it online through the U.S. Copyright Office’s website. There is a fee for this per application.
What’s good is that if you are registering your music, you can submit more than one song under one application and fee.
This means that if you have an album to copyright with 7 songs, you can do that under one application and pay one application fee.
This is a better deal since you won’t have to pay the same application fee seven times if you copyright the songs one by one.
#2. PERFORMING RIGHTS ORGANIZATION (PRO) REGISTRATION
You need to affiliate yourself with a Performing Rights Organization because they will be the ones to help you collect performance royalties.
Whenever your original songs are played on the radio, a venue, TV, etc., you will get revenue through them.
This is a great initial move because there is a possibility that your songs will take off, and they will be the ones to help rake in those revenues.
#3. SOUNDEXCHANGE REGISTRATION
SoundExchange collects royalties for featured artists and the sound recording owner.
Since they are associated with the sound recording, not the song, it is not considered publishing royalties, thus PROs won’t be able to collect them.
So when your songs are played on digital and satellite radios, they will be the ones to make sure your royalties are collected and paid to you.
#4. LICENSE FOR COVER SONGS
If you have cover songs included in the album you’re planning to release, it’s best to license them.
You can do this through Easy Song Licensing.
This is a very important thing to have so that you won’t encounter any trouble concerning it.
Submitting them online would help increase your digital and search presence. Moreover, your fans will have an easier way of looking up your song’s lyrics.
I suggest that when you submit your lyrics, you have Musixmatch on your list because they are in partnership with Spotify.
So, when you have your lyrics in Musixmatch’s database, your songs will have available lyrics when played on the online streaming platform.
#6. LOTS OF BADASS BAND PHOTOS
Photos should be prepared before your release.
These photos can be your album cover, poster, merch, and whatever else. If you’re planning on having physical albums then you can have them on your booklet, photobook, inner sleeves, and more.
Aside from that, these photos can be used for your updated electronic press kit and press release.
You have to make sure that the photos you send to the press are awesome.
This is because the photos are the first thing they’ll be seeing before hearing your music. An eye-catching photo will help your songs be heard.
#7. PRIVATE SOUNDCLOUD PLAYLIST
You have to have a private SoundCloud playlist where you upload the songs from your unreleased album.
Why would you have to do that?
That’s because most bloggers, journalists, and DJs will be asking to hear them even before the release date to create their reviews as well as decide whether they will have it played on the radio.
#8. PRESS RELEASE AND ELECTRONIC PRESS KIT (EPK)
During the release date, depending on how wide you’ve reached the press, they will be releasing an article based on the press release you disseminated.
You can send it to the press hours before the release.
Another thing you have to prepare is your EPK which is basically your resume as a musician.
This needs to include your music, photos, album art, your bio, music videos, links, your contact info, and more. If you already have an existing EPK, then you can just update that.
#9. COOL MUSIC VIDEO THAT MATCHES YOUR BRAND
This is something that you don’t really need to have, but if you plan on having one, it would be best to prepare and have them ready before the release date.
If you have music videos for more than one song from the album, it would be best to not dump it all in one day.
This will help have longer interest in your album, don’t spread their release date so far from each other though, or people will lose interest.
#10. PHYSICAL ALBUMS (CDS, VINYL, CASSETTES)
Before the release date, you gotta have your physical albums ready.
It doesn’t have to be all of the copies, at least half of it should be available though, especially if you had a pre-order period.
Having them shipped on the released date will be a plus point for your listeners because they will know you care for what they think of you.
If you planned on having merchandise released alongside your physical albums, then you better have them ready before release too.
Because just like the physical albums, it would be best to have them shipped out to your fans on the release date.
Every album release has a different theme and feels from the other previous ones.
So when you’ve announced your release date, it would be best to have your website ready for the upcoming release.
You can use the photos from your album photoshoot, then maybe match the color scheme and font style of the album.
#13. PHYSICAL AND ONLINE STORE
Aside from preparing your website, you gotta prepare your online store too.
If you plan on having a physical store, you have to prepare that too. You have to make sure that your website and online store have a uniform look.
Make sure to also have the physical albums and merchandise visible on your online store.
#14. SPOTIFY ARTIST PROFILE
Another thing to redesign is your artist profile on Spotify.
Changing your profile picture would catch the attention of your listeners, especially those who’re not closely following your activity.
Additionally, you can have a fundraiser added as well as have your playlist where you can share the music you are currently loving with your fans.
You can also add merch and even input the details of your concerts.
#15. ADDITION TO PLAYLISTS
Even before the release of your album, it would be best to pitch them to be added to a playlist.
The more playlist your music is added to the wider audience you reach.
Additionally, it will add to your streams. It might even help you have more fans or casual listeners who’ll visit your profile and listen to the rest of your work.
#16. CANVAS FOR TRACKS
You also have to create, at least, one canvas for your tracks.
It is an 8-second visual that loops while the track plays. You can have 3D graphics, 2D graphics, mixed media, or a video for this. Usually, musicians choose to have one canvas for all the tracks from the same album.
However, I suggest you have a different canvas per track if you really want to engage your fans.
What’s great about this is you can tell the message or project the feelings of the song through the canvas you have for it.
Advertisements are a must when you have music releases.
This will help you reach audiences you’ve never reached before.
And you have to prepare them beforehand so that you won’t have a lot on your plate during the release week.
We’ve reached the end.
There are other things you have to prepare for your album release. It depends on what plans you have for your release.
We’ve covered the more essential things though, so you need not worry.
Hope this was a useful read for you. Best of luck with your release!
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD, custom vinyl records and merch company in LA.