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AWAL, Kobalt's music distribution and services partner for independent artists, work on hundreds of releases each month, so they know a thing or two about preparing for a successful release. They’ve shared their good advice with us below... For the original article, click here.

To maximise the exposure and success of your new music fully takes some serious planning. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 10 essential steps every artist should fit into their pre-release plan. Make sure you’ve checked these off your list.

1. Make a Release Timeline

Organization is key. There are a million things for you to keep track of. Before you start, begin by making an easy-to-follow timeline. This will be your guide during your entire release process, highlighting all important milestones and dates. Organize your timeline into 3 major buckets — pre-release, release date, and post release.

2. Think Social Influencers

Influencer marketing has become a big part of music marketing and you should include it in your pre-release plan too. Who has a large and relevant following and will be likely to share your music and news with their audience? Consider press, industry contacts, bloggers, Youtubers but also peers, fans, and any partners. It’s best to approach them in advance so you can think creatively how to collaborate to spread the word and so they can fit you in their content calendar.

3. Organize your Creative Assets

Visuals are everything. You need to make sure you’ve got creative assets that are compelling and really grab attention. Prepare your photo and video content well before your release date. Create a downloadable folder with promo images, gifs, music, a one-sheet, etc, so it’s easily accessible by industry contacts, your publicist, bloggers and anyone who can help lock in any premieres, shows, or partnerships.

4. Partner with a Music Distributor

How are you getting your music out there on all major digital music services? That’s obviously the most important part. There are tons of music distributors out there that will take that burden off your shoulders and can really maximize your exposure. For example, AWAL distributes to different stores and services covering 190 territories across the world such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and, YouTube Red, and also has some pretty awesome relationships with major DSPs to help artists get on more of the hottest playlists, more frequently. Check out their successes.

5. Update your Website

Your website is your central hub online. It’s where many of your existing and prospective fans will be looking for any new releases and updates. So before a new release, make sure your website is looking its best. Make it easy for people to learn more about you and ensure your fans can get the key info in one place, including: tour dates, store, contacts, bio, social and listening links. News about your upcoming release should be front and centre, with pre-order call to actions taking precedence. Also think about matching the aesthetics of your website to that of your upcoming release. It’s a good idea to update hero visuals with the artwork and information about your new music... Read this artist website checklist.

6. Update your Social Media Pages

Your website isn’t the only digital real estate you want to update in advance of your release. Consider updating your social media headers, and profile images with release information, pre and post launch. Additionally, fine-tune your biography, and contact information to work in the date of your release. Maintenance is only half the battle though. Be active! Think about creating a content plan and teaser campaigns. It’s a great way to build hype around a release. Create a content plan, and release images from the studio, promo shots, video clips, tracklists, GIFs, etc throughout your release cycle. Tag partners and the people involved on social media.

7. Work on your Mailing List

Owning your audience is extremely important to stay in control of your fans relationship. Put some effort into growing your list; you want to make it as easy as possible for anyone to sign up. Put email captures on all your digital real estate like your website and social pages. You can even have a physical mailing list at shows for people to sign up. A good strategy when you’re starting out is to give a track away in return for an email address. Then create a flow of communications to send to your list that will keep them in the know about any important details. Email is a bit more invasive as a means of communication, so be cautious about the frequency and think twice whether your fans will like and engage with your content. You don’t want them to unsubscribe!

8. Prep with Digital Services

Just like with your website and social pages, your streaming profiles should reflect and champion your new music. You absolutely want to prepare your Spotify and Apple Music profiles. Make sure all your hero and profile images are updated to reflect your artwork, update your bio with release info, and make sure you’re posting content on your Apple Music Connect profile about the news with teaser media.

9. Create custom merch

Who doesn’t love fresh clothes or accessories? Selling merch is a great way to generate some extra buzz (and money!) around your release. Think hats, shirts, backpacks — whatever seems reasonable within your budget. Regardless of what you end up going with, make sure it accentuates the aesthetic of your new release and connects with your fans. It’s important to plan out how you’re going to sell everything to your fans. An easy solution is to use Music Glue, a specialist e-commerce platform for artists, where you can create a free website and store to sell merchandise, experiences, tickets, music and more direct to fans. If your budget is limited, the Print on Demand t-shirt feature is an easy way to stock your store for free with fulfilment also taken care of; just money in your pocket when you make a sale.

10. Plan Something Special for Release Day

Think of release day like your birthday. If you want it to be a success — you’ve got to go big. There are tons of fun ways for you to capture as much attention as possible around your release during the big day, so get creative!

AWAL is Kobalt's music distribution and services partner for independent artists. Visit their website here.

Create your free website and online store today, get started with Music Glue.