• Joshua Jankowski

A checklist to help prepare your next music release, part 1

Updated: Aug 4

Since people first started using Feed, I’ve had various conversations with artists about all the different tasks they need to complete in order to effectively release their music. Things like: when to upload to your distributor, when and how to start marketing, or pitch for a Spotify playlist.


This article distills those conversations, and adds in our experience from running our label archForm, and working at others like Transgressive and Warp. It’s a checklist to work through when you’re planning a release, to make sure the song or album has the best introduction to the world.


Part 1 looks at creating a timeline, writing a press release, and starting to contact journalists, radio stations and playlist editors.


Part 2 covers social media strategy and release day itself.


Before we start…


This post is going to assume that the music is finished (recorded, mixed, mastered etc.), the artwork is ready and you have some photos of yourself - the music needs to be ready before thinking about marketing it!


It’s also focussed on what you can do yourself with a limited budget, so without the support of big upfront costs like a PR agency or radio plugger.


🙾 Construct a timeline

When: at least 4 weeks before release


This is a whole blog post in itself (and shall become one soon), but it’s the first thing you’ll need to do. The key part being to decide on a release date, bearing in mind that the earlier you upload to your distributor and begin pitching your song to blogs, radio stations or playlists, the better.


Record labels will deliver music and artwork to distributors 4 weeks before release, and that’s the minimum to aim for. As you’ll see from the rest of this post, there’s plenty to do, so you’ll definitely need the time to get it all done.


Subscribe to our mailing list at the end of the article to be notified when we publish a more complete blog post about constructing a timeline.


🙾 Deliver your music

When: at least 4 weeks before release


As well as uploading your music to your distributor of choice, consider getting the release ready on Bandcamp, YouTube and SoundCloud yourself, and setting up private links ready to share with people ahead of release.


🙾 Create a smart link

When: 4 weeks before release


Try smartURL or Feature.fm.


It’s good to do this even before the music is released and have it link to a private preview of the music on SoundCloud. Then you can swap it out for the final links on release day.


🙾 Write a press release / ‘one sheet’

When: 4 weeks before release


A press release contains the details of the music you’re about to release and often contains the following elements:


🙾 A headline


🙾 A summary

This is all the key information, the name of the artist, the title of the song, EP or album, its release date, any other headline points like details of a tour happening around the same time.


🙾 Private link to the music


🙾 A quote from you about the music


🙾 A photo of you


🙾 The cover art


🙾 A tracklist


🙾 Links to your social media channels


Then a one-sheet would contain more general information about you as an artist, not specific to this song release, for example:


🙾 A short biography


🙾 A list of career highlights

This might be:

  • radio stations that have played your songs,

  • gigs where you’ve played a large venue… festival or supported a well known artist,

  • features in music magazines and blogs,

  • previous releases.

That kind of thing… basically anything you’re proud of!


🙾 Social stats

How many followers you have on Instagram, or streams on Spotify as a couple of examples. Sadly people like playlist editors and music journalists have such limited time due to the huge amount of music released each day, so data like this is really important.


The ideal is to be able to condense both the press release and one sheet on to one, easy to understand page, that you can attach when contacting someone about your music. This is like your ‘elevator pitch’, so assume that at most people will scan it for 30 seconds - it needs to convey why they should support you and your music in that time.


🙾 Pitching to playlists and other support on streaming services

When: 3 weeks before release


There are countless companies out there offering to submit your music to the editorial teams at places like Spotify or Apple Music so that your song can be added to one of their many playlists, but the truth is that only distributors and large record labels actually have the ability to do this.


Where playlist pitching companies can help is with large playlists owned by Spotify users, however you may have just as much success submitting your music to the people that run these through a service like SubmitHub.


For the playlists operated by services like Spotify, SoundCloud or Bandcamp, here’s how you can submit music yourself.


🙾 Spotify

Get signed up to Spotify for Artists, they have an extensive guide on the process of getting featured in one of their playlists here.


🙾 SoundCloud

SoundCloud is rolling out a feature for premiere users to pitch their tracks to be included in their playlists, it’s worth investigating to see if their premiere tier is worth it for you.


🙾 Bandcamp

The Bandcamp guide is a goldmine of information on how to use their platform as an artist. Head down to the ‘Promotion’ section for details on how to get featured in Bandcamp Daily, it comes complete with email addresses for the relevant people depending on the genre of music you make.


🙾 Pandora

It is possible to submit music for review “ by Pandora’s curation team [and] considered for inclusion in Pandora’s official programs” using their artist tool AMP. Have a look through their playbook to get set-up.


🙾 Pitching to blogs and magazines

When: 3 weeks before release


This has the potential to become the most time consuming part of the process, and requires quite a lot of research, simply because there are so many music blogs and magazines out there.


SubmitHub makes the process of sending your music to multiple places at once very easy. With a little research into the websites and journalists that write about music similar to your own, you’ll be able to create a list of emails to contact with your press release and one sheet.


It’ll take more time, but it’s well worth writing a personalised message for each website or person you contact, making it as easy as possible for them to listen to your music and look over your press release.


The BBC Ideas video: How to make sure your emails actually get read, has some useful tips.


🙾 Getting heard on radio

When: 3 weeks before release

A service like SubmitHub is again useful for radio, but there are also a few UK radio stations that accept submissions directly.


🙾 BBC Music Introducing

Upload your song to your local BBC Introducing team here.


🙾 Amazing Radio

The Amazing Tunes service allows you to submit songs for airplay on Amazing Radio.


🙾 Kerrang

The Fresh Blood feature hosted by Alex Baker has information on how to submit here.


🙾 Rinse FM

Details on how to submit links to your music are here.


Many radio DJs list their email addresses online also, so with a bit of research you’ll be able to build up a list of relevant contacts. For a general overview of sending your music to radio DJs, look no further than Fresh on the Net.

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