Creating A Timeline To Promote A Single Release

Radar-logo-mainThis repost from Caroline Bottomley of Radar Music Videos looks at the  timeline for releasing a single.  While her example is from the UK, most ot the concepts are universal. 

A lot of promo people we talk to say artists and managers often don't know what professionals do to promote single releases.  So we asked for help from some real professionals (see credits below).

Then we made up an indie band with an established following and a few previous releases. We made up £5,000 ($7650 USSD) to spend.  Then we wrote this rough guide – enjoy and feel free to add your own tips.

14 weeks out from release

* Commission single artwork, even if it’s for download only. Designer £300
* Commission artist photos. Photographer £500 

TIP: “Commission nice/weird/cool COLOUR band photos, the brighter the better” David Laurie SiC Records
Start social media engagement. Digital Promotions £500 – £1,000
NOTE: Social media work continues from here up to and after release date.

12 weeks out from release

* Engage PR £500 – £1,500
* Release advance copies/links to share to monthly press, for review, eg Q, Mojo, Clash, Uncut. Start with sending out a simple press release announcing the single and put the single into context, eg from an album or a stand-alone track? will there be associated shows? PR 

TIP: There are very few print outlets for singles, a couple of dozen really. It’s ALL about online for singles. David Laurie, SiC Records
NOTE: Press work continues from this point up to and after release date

TIP: “The press release needs to be straightforward and attention-grabbing “artist releases great new song/album” just isn’t enough. What’s your story? What’s special about you/the song/album and why?” Gillian, Million PR and Naked Press.

* Engage Agent 10% of gross
* Engage Radio & Video Plugger £500-£1,500

NOTE: “I would separate Radio & TV costs. Radio Promotions £1000-2000 and TV Plugger £500-1000 per release. They might be able to get it for less, but this is much more realistic of the going rates.” Prudence, Rocket PR

* Commission the official music video, the aim is to create a stand-out, remarkable video. Producer/director (Radar) £2,000

TIP: “The video must be one that compels you to hit SHARE at the end, that is the idea. Not the new Bammers video but the video where the guy turns into a monkey and eats the aeroplane” David Laurie, SiC Records
TIP: “Commission the video now so it can be ready to service at least 6 weeks before release” Prudence, Rocket PR
TIP: “All video people take longer than they say to deliver, so I give at least 2 weeks ahead of my deadline as the actual deadline” David Laurie, SiC Records

* Create a lyric or packshot video, the point is have this video on the band’s YouTube channel when radio play begins ahead of release date, capturing early views and interest. Producer/director (Radar) or Digital Promotions £0 – £200

8 weeks out from release

* Track/remix completed.
* Book banner/facebook/google advertising. Digital Promotions £500
* Advance copies/links to share released to weekly and daily press, for review. PR
* Release show/s booked. Agent
* Radio promotion begins. Single and album promos are presented to radio producers and presenters with a press release and list of forthcoming live dates. Plugger

TIP: “Almost none of them (radio producers and presenters) listen to albums or anything after the first track on a single promo unless there is some headspinning remix” David Laurie, SiC Records

* Build up support through plays on individual radio shows, working towards playlist consideration. Plugger
* Social media begins to focus on the release campaign. Digital Promotions
* Digital store promotions set up. Digital Promotions

4 – 6 weeks out from release

* Service video to TV for playlist rotation consideration. Plugger
* Radio playlist consideration. Plugger
* Digital store promotions set up once you have provable ammo from press. Digital Promotions
* Soundcloud stream premiere on a top site followed a day or two later with a blast out to other sites for more embedding, start adding up those NUMBERS to convince radio you are POPULAR. PR

2 weeks out from release

* Secure a video exclusive with a popular music site and general coverage in music media. PR

TIP: “Securing exclusives is PAINFUL and you have to (more or less) only ask one at a time – Pitchfork; Fader; Guardian; Stereogum in that order. Each one takes at least 24 hrs to get back even if you have a shit hot PR. so running through those top 4 will take a week and likely they will all pass” David Laurie, SiC Records

* Fan special offers; exclusive tracks, early order discounting etc Digital Promotions

Release week

* Digital store promotion. Digital Promotions
* Music media coverage. PR
* Paid advertising live. Digital Promotions
* TV rotation. Plugger
* Radio sessions and interviews. Plugger
* Release show. Agent

Post Launch

* Follow up press campaign to generate further press coverage. PR
* Album and tour news to be associated throughout if appropriate.

NOTE: “It might be an idea to mention that there will be VAT on top of all costs as this seems to come as a surprise to many unsigned acts as they are most likely not VAT registered themselves.” Prudence, Rocket PR

Companies providing these promotion services can be found in Radar’s Resources

This rough guide has been complied with the help of David Laurie, Something in Construction Records (SiC); Gillian, Million PR, Naked Press**; David Riley Good Lizard Media**; Prudence, Rocket PR and Caroline Bottomley, Radar Music Videos.
** Willing to advise new artists and labels about promotion strategies.

PS, An Important Note about Paying for Services.

It’s possible to do just about all these things for free. You do it yourself, get friends to do it, pull in favours. The reason these services are worth paying for is good professionals will do a much quicker and more effective job.

More to the point, people will actually listen to stuff from reputable PRs; press and pluggers are personally connected to press and playlisters; promotions people know which advertising is cost-effective; experienced directors make attractive music videos that get featured on blogs. All that should result in more sales of your single and more tickets sold to your gigs.

Radar is an award-winning network which connects record labels and artists to professional music video directors worldwide.


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  1. I must say, well done. Over our 15+ years as Team Clermont I’ve seen many an outline, but this is succinct and detailed but not overdone. (For the full details of releasing, see a book like Sarah Davis’ “Guerilla Guide to the Music Business”).
    Obviously, people like David Laurie, Gillian, and Prudence are some of the best in the industry so you’ve got solid info.
    Things do vary slightly in the US as far as releases go, the timeline here is the key and something we beg our “younger” clients to set up and adhere to.
    Oh, one thing I noticed that may be missing: distribution (How do I actually sell my single, CD or track?)
    In the US there are distributors who sometimes take on DIY’ers like Tunecore, IODA, and The Orchard, but it’s getting tougher for them to take on anything smaller than the small label with a few releases each year, Tunecore aside. What the other two have done is allowed other companies, Team Clermont for instance, to become distributors while the back end and fulfillment are handled by the systems those two have set up.
    So, at the risk of sounding like a plug, an “indie music PR Firm” like Team Clermont actually operates as a Radio promotion “plugger”, a PR & Marketing company, AND a worldwide distributor of both digital and tactile releases.
    I mention this because 1. not many people know that there are one-stop-shop options like this, and 2. because it offers just that: one place where a truly independent artist or label can come to http://teamclermont.com (shameless plug),
    and choose the services they want.
    This helps streamline some of those processes, giving the artist more time and concentration on everything else on their terrific new timeline.
    Thanks. Nelson Wells

  2. Oh thanks very much for the ‘well done’, and for the US insights. We’re currently constructing a US version of this rough guide and it’ll be interesting to see what is different along the timeline and when.
    The phenomenon of one-stop-shops is very interesting, good to hear about.
    Caroline, Radar

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