Releasing music is a huge step in any musician’s career, but many musicians miss crucial steps when they release an album or single. If you want to ensure the success of your release, and grow to a point where you can make a living from music, you need to make sure you do things properly from a legal standpoint, as well as a music promotion standpoint.
Here are 3 things you should do every time you release new music.
1. Copyright your music
While your music is protected under copyright law the minute it is put into a tangible form (so, once it’s recorded), it’s much easier to enforce upon infringement when your music is actually registered with the copyright office.
Additionally, registering your music with the copyright office can earn you extra royalties from music streaming services. Streaming services pay what are known as mechanical royalties directly to songwriters and publishers for the rights to play their music. For smaller musicians, they do this by sending a Notice of Intent (NOI) to the songwriter in the mail to let them know they’ll be streaming their song, and then they send payments via check through the mail. If your music isn’t registered with the U.S. copyright office, you’ll never see any of this money.
If you’re unsure about how to copyright a song, your best bet is to consult a music attorney. Rather than paying them to do it for you, ask them to show you how to do it so you can do it yourself the next time around.
2. Get proper distribution
Finding the right music distribution company is an important step in releasing new music. With music fans consuming music from a variety of services and platforms, such as their mobile device or web browser, it’s important to make sure your music is everywhere.
Almost every digital music distributor is going to get your music on the popular services, but some distribution companies do release on more platforms than others. Make sure you find the one with the biggest reach.
Reach isn’t the only important factor, however – it’s also important to consider the cost. Some distribution companies charge a fixed fee and pay you 100% of the rights (such as TuneCore) while others charge a lower subscription fee, but take a percentage of the royalties paid back to you (like CDBaby). Choose the type of distribution service that’s best for your current situation, and ultimate, the one you think you’d be most happy working with.
These services don’t reach every service. Some streaming services like Dozmia and SoundCloud get music directly, so consider these services as well when releasing new music online.
3. Promote your music
Once you’ve gotten the copyright for your songs and have distribution in place, the final step is to promote your music.
Music promotion in today’s music industry takes place offline and online. When it comes to offline music promotion, things can get costly very quickly, and results are hard to measure, so for newer musicians, it might be best to find ways to promote your music online for free.
Here are a few ways to do that.
When using social media as a marketing channel for your music, it’s important to not think of it as a promotional channel, but as an engagement channel.
Social media platforms are more and more trying to show content to their users that will engage them and keep them on the service, so if you can provide this, you’ll be in front of more people. If your profile has a high level of engagement, then once you say something about your music, people will see it.
Writing blog posts is a great way to increase traffic to your band’s website. When you publish articles, think less about simply updating your fans about the on goings of your music career and more about how you can be helpful to them.
Publishing content that’s helpful to your audience is likely to get shared around social media, and can even rank well in search engines to drive more free traffic to your website.
One of the hardest things for musicians to do is get their music reviewed by influential bloggers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. When reaching out to bloggers, make sure you target your outreach efforts to bloggers who actually care about your style of music. It doesn’t make sense to reach out to a heavy metal blog if you’re a hip-hop artist – you’d just be wasting your time.
Go to Hypemachine, look for music blogs within your niche, and start engaging on their websites. Maybe send them an email about how awesome a recent review was with some of your thoughts on the same album. When you have these relationships in place, it’s much easier to share your music with these bloggers and get your music heard by their followers.