• Kate Brunotts

The Ultimate Release Day Checklist: 15 Things To Do Before Your First Release

This is it. This is the year where you start releasing music. You finally finished your first track and sent it to your digital distributor. However, the work doesn’t stop there – if you haven’t started already, it’s time to start prepping for release day.


Navigating this territory can be tricky as an indie artist. Thankfully, we’ve come up with the ultimate release day checklist so that your music is heard as soon as it drops. These steps aren’t just essential for earning fans, they can also help you network with other musicians and potentially earn some press from outlets. Let’s jump into it!



Everything You Need To Do Before Release Day

1. Remember To Set Up Your Official Artist Page

2. Register With A PRO

3. Build An Artist Bio

4. Set Up A Pre-Save Campaign

5. Reach Out To Blogs

6. Pitch To Editorials

7. Craft The Story Behind Your Song

8. Make Sure Your Lyrics Are Up To Date

9. Make A Music Video

10. Create Posts For Social Media

11. Start Up Your Socials

12. Network With Fans and Other Artists

13. Craft a Release Day Plan

14. Celebrate and Reflect On Your Experience

15. Continue To Consistently Promote Your Music


There’s no denying that preparing for your first release can be stressful. After all, you just spent plenty of time and potentially money producing, mixing and mastering your track (not to mention crafting the cover art). It can feel overwhelming to properly prepare for release day especially after putting so much effort into creating a finished song.


Don’t get discouraged! This process will become second nature with practice. Learning how to promote your releases is just as important as figuring out how to build your own beats. Plus, many of these items only have to be set up once, so this process will become easier with your next release. Without further ado, here are 15 things you need to do before you release a song as an indie artist.



1. Remember To Set Up Your Official Artist Page

One of the first things you need to do when release day rolls around is to claim your artist profile on sites like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. Unfortunately, you aren’t able to claim these accounts until your release has dropped on the streaming platforms but you’ll want to have an awesome profile picture, header picture, and biography ready for plugging in on release day.


These tools provide free data to help you better understand your audience and see how your listeners respond to your music. This data is invaluable for future marketing campaigns and will make it a lot easier for you to grow with each release. You can also encourage your fans to follow your profile once it’s set up so that they’ll be notified for all future releases.





2. Register With A PRO

If you haven’t already, register with a PRO or Performance Rights Organization. These companies collect and distribute streaming revenue if your song is performed in a public setting like on TV or the radio. You probably won’t need to worry too much about this with your first release, but make sure you get in the habit of keeping your releases up to date through a PRO. Two of the most common organizations include ASCAP and BMI.


If you’re the sole producer and distributor, you’ll have to register as both a writer and publisher, not one or the other.


3. Build An Artist Bio

Make sure you have an artist biography ready to plug into your artist pages on release day. This could include your hometown, some of your favorite artists or your future goals for music. Check out some of your favorite artist’s pages for inspirations.


4. Set Up A Pre-Save Campaign

One of the best ways to earn release day campaigns is to set up a pre-save campaign. This link will allow fans to save the song or project to their libraries ahead of time. This way, your listeners will already have the song saved to your library when it drops (which can also help streaming services see that you’re bringing buzz to their platform).


Distributors like Distrokid give you a presave landing page by default, but you can also use outlets like Hype Edit to create a presave landing page. You can embed this link directly into your bio, or create embed it within a tool like Linktree.





Distrokid’s service includes “Hyperfollow” which allows you to collect pre-saves along with valuable data like listeners’ emails and demographics.



5. Reach Out To Blogs

You don’t need blog press to have a successful song. However, it certainly doesn’t hurt, and it’s worth making connections with tastemakers in the industry for obvious reasons. You can pitch your song with a private stream link to blogs specific to your genre. Don't forget to include a little blurb about yourself and the song's meaning in your pitch -- the story is what sells your music!


There are plenty of ways to go about doing this, but you can use a resource like Hypemachine which compiles blog reviews from popular outlets. You can start by looking up similar artists and pitching directly to some of their approved outlets. Most music blogs have an entire page or email dedicated to artist submissions.


6. Pitch To Editorials

While you won’t be able to this until your second release, platforms like Spotify and Amazon Music allow you to pitch directly to editorial playlists before release day. You’ll want to do this at least two weeks before you drop your track, which is why it’s so important to have a succinct release schedule. You’re able to manage pitches under the “Upcoming” tab in your artist profiles.




7. Craft The Story Behind Your Song

Everyone likes a good story. Make sure you think about the meaning behind your song and share the journey of creating your song on release day. This isn’t just great for sharing with listeners, it’s also a big selling point for blogs! Craft your song’s story before release day so that you have one less thing to worry about.


8. Make Sure Your Lyrics Are Up To Date

Some distributors will ask you to upload lyrics with your project. Upload your song’s lyrics with your track if you haven’t already done so. You can also upload the lyrics to an aggregator like Musixmatch for good measure. This is also a good time to think about how you can market certain lyrics.


Have a section that would make a good Tiktok? Think you could share a jarring lyric on Twitter? Go for it! Sometimes, even a little text can earn a presave.


9. Make A Music Video

In case you haven’t noticed, video content dominates almost all other forms of advertising. Videos are incredibly engaging and can definitely bring in a new listener that might not have otherwise found your music. Try to drop a music video on release day, even if it’s just a video of your singing along to your song recorded from your phone. Youtube, not Spotify or Apple Music, is the biggest music streaming service, so this step is essential.



Even a lyric video can help enhance your music for your listeners. Make sure you keep all of your music videos in a playlist so that fans can easily jam out!


You'll also want to grab a short clip for your Spotify canvas. This looping visual will be shown to listeners whenever they stream your song and is another opportunity to showcase your brand as an artist.


10. Create Posts For Social Media

If you have your presave link ready to go, it’s time to start promoting your upcoming track on social media. Start sharing snippets of your song with followers and direct them to your presave link. You can also share lyrics, behind the scenes footage, or even create a contest to earn some pre-saves. Giving away free merch is a great way to earn some buzz and build a connection with your fanbase.


11. Start Up Your Socials

In a world where Tiktok literally sways the music industry, being on social media is practically mandatory for artists. Once you have your presave link, start to promote your upcoming track by sharing snippets on socials.


Crafting a niche following will almost always make it easier for you to promote your music, so experiment with different types of content while you’re growing your fan base. Try to get in the habit of consistently posting engaging content to touch base with your audience.


12. Network With Fans and Other Artists

One of the best ways to earn fans is to become a fan of other musicians. You can use sites like Reddit or Submithub with free, online forums to share your music and receive valuable feedback from other artists. You might also earn a fan or two by sharing snippets of your music in forums or on social media so as soon as you have that pre-save link ready to share, have at it!





13. Craft a Release Day Plan

Release day, especially your first one, can be stressful. Make sure you have all of your social posts, captions, and promotional assets ready to drop. If you received any responses from music blogs or press outlets, make sure you have their emails ready so that you can send them an updated streaming link when it drops. You’ll also want to claim your artist profiles as discussed as soon as you can.


14. Celebrate and Reflect On Your Experience

Once release day rolls around, make sure you’re following your plan as closely as possible. Remember to post on socials, claim your artist profile, and network with potential listeners and future collaborators. Once you get the logistic stuff out of the way, don’t forget to celebrate!


Plenty of musicians talk about officially releasing music, but never get around to it. Making it to release day is a huge accomplishment, regardless of how many people are listening. Take time to reflect on each release day and use your experience to power a more optimized release day moving forward.


15. Continue To Consistently Promote Your Music

One of the biggest mistakes indie artists make is that they stop promoting their music once it’s past release day. Unlike your favorite movies or TV shows, which you might rewatch a handful of times, music is evergreen. Just think about how many times you’ve listened to your favorite song or album – Over the course of a lifetime, you could listen to some of your favorite tracks hundreds, if not thousands of times.


You never know if your biggest fan is just another Tiktok or live show away. Keep marketing your music far past release day and most importantly, making music! One of the best ways to grow your fanbase and your skills is to simply make more tunes. This is just the beginning. Congratulations on your first release!



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