Planning for the future: a single release schedule

Man plans and God laughs

Releases are a fickle thing nowadays. There are so many releases and so many channels to release through it’s easy to lose structure and overview. I have more than once found myself panicking the night before a release because we had supplied version V3.2 to the label instead of V3.3 and it had already been sent out to all the journalists, but we still wanted to change it. Or suddenly finding out none of the social assets had been prepared because everyone within the team thought someone else would take care of it. So I’ve made a handy checklist. Go through the list with your team and dedicate each task to someone specific, and most importantly, check in with each other to see if everything has been done. Of course, as the header indicated, anything rarely ever goes according to plan, so make sure to be flexible with your approach.

Any hot singles in this area?

First of all, it’s important in the modern music industry climate to differentiate between a single and an album release. The checklist below should be used for single releases only. An album strategy will entail much, much more, and depending on the strategy you will need different approaches and workflows. See the checklist below very much as a checklist for one single that could be part of your album strategy.

Another side note: I have divided up the timeline from six months before to one month after the release date. Obviously this isn’t set in stone but the most important facet is the order in which you undertake these actions. Of course, as you’ll get closer to release day it’s advisable to veer off less and less.

Six months before

It says six months before but basically this means whenever you are in the studio or any other place where you are recording your song. It’s important to already capture some of the recording as well as the creative process magic so you can use that later on.

  • Record and finish the song
  • Shoot pictures and behind-the-scenes footage (preferably by a photographer or videographer)
  • Creative concept around song (what will the pictures, socials, videos, etc. look like and how does it tie in to your own narrative and perhaps of that of the album as a whole?)
  • Create a mood board
  • Set a budget for the entire campaign (preferably do this before going into the studio)

Three months before

  • Finish the mix/master
  • Shoot a video
  • Shoot promotional photos / visuals
  • Create artwork
  • Set definite release date
  • Brainstorm and initiate merchandise ideas

Two months before

  • Call to action to follow newsletter (you can sprinkle these throughout your content calendar as you see fit)
  • Perhaps tease the audience a bit
  • Upload to DSPs
  • Order merchandise items

One month before

  • Launch pre-order (if you want to do one)
  • Pitch to DSPs (Spotify Pitch for example)
  • Start teasing your fanbase regularly
  • Promo time! Send out first round of emails to blogs. Try to get a premiere with a bigger website.
  • Update bio & press kit

Two weeks before

  • Write and design newsletter (tip: use a template)
  • Design and edit all social assets for all socials you regularly post to
  • Callback any blogs that haven’t gotten back to you yet
  • Send out a pre-save to all fans (through newsletter, socials or any other platform you utilise)
  • Whitelist Soundcloud / Youtube (sometimes your content will get blocked otherwise, this only applies if you go through a distributor or record label)

One week before

  • Double check all socials assets
  • Double check Soundcloud/Youtube upload
  • Double check newsletter
  • Schedule newsletter
  • Schedule socials posts (if possible)
  • Last callback round for the blogs that you deem worth another shot
  • Prepare changes or any new content you want on your website (e.g. an updated bio or new pictures).
  • Create a landing page that you can send your fans to on the day of release (I recommend https://www.toneden.io/ but let me know if you have any suggestions)
  • If you are selling physical copies send out those pre-orders now, this way you can tease people by reposting whatever stories you get tagged in.

The day before

  • Double check all socials assets
  • Double check Soundcloud/Youtube upload
  • Double check newsletter
  • At 00:00 am check any playlist placements (New Music Friday, etc.)
  • Post content or a little story for the night owls and early risers
  • Prepare website update

The day of release

  • Newsletter is sent out
  • Soundcloud / Youtube set to public
  • Social posts (Instagram Feed, Insta Stories, Insta Reel, Facebook Feed, and any more socials you use).
  • Double check scheduled posts and newsletters
  • Update your website (change pre-order into normal release, news post, etc.)
  • Respond to all comments, repost all Instagram stories, keep the dialogue going with your fans (this will strengthen your post in the algorithm as well)
  • Post the biggest blog or media outlet that you know will write about you
  • Update your bio links (e.g. on Instagram)

The day after

  • Repost all mentions and stories
  • Spread out all blogs and media mentions in the week after release
  • Post content thanking everyone for checking out the new single
  • Reach out to any independent playlist owners to see if they want to feature your track

One week after

  • Collect, post and thank all playlist owners
  • Repost any content fans create with your work (stories, reels, short videos)
  • Doublecheck if all blogs that had committed to writing actually posted and if not shoot them a message
  • Post any physical press as it trickles in
  • Callback any independent playlist owners who did not get back to you

One month after

  • Review workflow
  • What went well?
  • Did we miss anything?
  • What went badly, and why?
  • What could be improved?
  • Update this list for your next release with the feedback you collected

Conclusion

Have another look, write this checklist out on a whiteboard or a giant sheet of paper and you can dutifully cross it all off. It will give you some peace of mind and take some of the stress off of the big release day. Don’t get me wrong, it will still be stressful, but perhaps a tiny bit less. And as I alluded to in the subtitle of this article, things will go wrong, and that’s OK. As long as you learn from those mistakes and you’re flexible in solving them. Don’t panic. Chances are big whatever it is, a lot of people won’t notice.

Did I miss anything? Have you used this checklist? I would love to hear from you and how it went, you can reach out to me at info@bohemianmgmt.com

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