Are you planning to release new music and you don’t know the processes involved or steps to take to get your music from the studio to your potential listeners’ ears? 


Releasing a new song isn’t as straightforward as independent musicians perceive it to be because there are important processes that go into releasing your music successfully. 


This is why I’ll be sharing with you the ultimate song release guide to help independent musicians like you create a working system that drives your music to success. 


Here are the 6 phases in this song release guide for a successful song release:


  1. Preparation
  2. Distribution
  3. Promotion planning
  4. Pre-release
  5. Release 
  6. Post-release


Before leaping into initializing the process in this song release guide, it’s important you plan to release more singles often. This is because Releasing more singles often is more effective for your audience growth. 


To grow your fan base, constantly releasing music regularly is required to build momentum and stay on top of the mind of your fans. An example is what Buju did which made him gain that immediate momentum to succeed as an independent musician after his contract in spaceship records ended.


You should also release singles more because you get more out of every single released to engage your fans. 


Lastly, a single is easier to consume by a new listener than an album or EP from an unknown artist. No one will take their time to listen to a project from an artist they’ve not heard before. 


It was important I mentioned this before taking you through the song release guide so you’ll have that as your foundation for now. You can go on to release your projects when you have a fan base that’s willing to listen and consume every single thing you put out. But for a start, focus on releasing more singles.


While aiming to release new music, make sure to move at a comfortable pace for you. Do not make the mistake of “spamming” your fans as this may feel forced. 


That being said, let’s dive into the song release guide.

Phase 1: Preparation

The very foundation of this song release guide is Preparation. Here’s how your Preparation checklist should look:


  • Mix and master audio file (.WAV)
  • Design cover art (.JPEG or .PNG)
  • Plan out promotion content (videos and photos)
  • Register your song with the copyright office
  • Secure mechanical license if your song is a cover
  • Choose songwriting splits if your song had various songwriters
  • Register song with a publishing admin or PRO
  • Choose a release date


Mixing and Mastering

After you’ve written and recorded your song, you’ll need to mix and master it. Here, you need to meet a music producer or sound engineer to achieve the perfect mixing and mastering of your single. 


The importance of very good mixing and mastering can’t be overemphasized because to impress a new listener, your song needs to sound awesome. This is why mixing and mastering is the very first item in this song guide.

Cover Art Design

This plays great importance when you want to distribute your music to stores. There needs to be a visual representation of your single. This is an important step in this song release guide. 


Reach out to an expert graphics designer, or animator. The image format should be in JPEG or PNG. While the minimum resolution should be higher than 1400 x 1400. If you’re on a budget, you can create your cover on Canva.

Plan promotion content (photos and videos) 

To see the best result, you need to plan the kinds of content that will be released with your song. Releasing a music video is great but may be over your budget so you can opt for an animated video. Then you can have various photos that depict the theme of your song.


Create a plan and content marketing schedule with these contents. These contents should be shared on all your social media while the video may be on your YouTube channel.


After gathering enough streams, you can go on to create a proper music video. 


If your song is a cover, make sure to secure the proper mechanical licenses. Your music distributor should offer you the option to secure the mechanical license for your cover song whenever you upload the song


If you’re a songwriter, make sure you’re a Publishing Rights Organization (PRO) member so you can register the song credit and receive the performance royalties you’re owed from publishing. Do not make these mistakes when registering your song. This is why this song release guide was created to guide you through things so adhere strictly.


If your song is original, meaning it was written or co-written by you, make sure your song is copyrighted.


If the song is a collaboration, get your ownership percentage split in writing based on how much each person contributed to the song. This document is called a spit sheet.

Choose a release date

Give yourself a minimum of two weeks between the day you upload your music to a distribution platform and the release date. Generally, new music is always released on Fridays but try to avoid the weekends as people are always clogged up with activities, they may not notice your music release. 


Follow these steps dearly and keep up with the instructions in the first phase of this song release guide.

Phase 2: Distribution

The second phase of this song release guide helps you with your song distribution. Here’s the checklist of what you should have in place:


  • Mastered song
  • Cover art file
  • Lyrics
  • Songwriter credits
  • ISRC code
  • Release date


In the first phase of this song release guide, we made sure all preparations are done. Now that you have everything you need, let’s get into distribution.


Make sure your song is going to be distributed on these top platforms:

  • Spotify
  • Apple Music
  • Amazon music
  • YouTube music
  • Pandora
  • SoundCloud
  • Audiomack
  • Boomplay

Depending on the distributor you’re using, make sure to choose every store so your single can be found everywhere including Facebook, Instagram, Instagram reels, Snapchat, and TikTok.


If the single is to be released again in the future as part of your EP or Album, make sure to use the same ISRC code generated for you when you released the single firstly, in the album or EP.


An ISRC code, otherwise known as the international standard recording code is a code used to identify a sound recording. When you upload your single, it is generated for you. 


Distribution platforms like distrokid allow you to add lyrics so they can be submitted to platforms like Apple Music, iTunes, and musixmatch (IG stories). If you need the guidelines to do this here are Apple Music and musixmatch guidelines.

Phase 3: Promotion Planning

This is the engine of this song release guide as this is what makes sure everything is working and successful. Here’s your checklist:


  1. Start a task calendar
  2. Submit for Spotify editorial playlist consideration
  3. Launch pre-save/pre-order link
  4. Create a smart link or landing page for the release
  5. Prepare single announcement post
  6. Day of release post
  7. Consider live streaming to promote the song


The very first thing for you to do is to create a task schedule/calendar to guide you through your promotion phase. This will help you know what task you’re working on next and when to perform it. 

Submit Your Song For Spotify Editorial Playlist Consideration

After uploading your single, you should submit the single for consideration in the Spotify editorial playlist. This process may take a few days as it takes some time for Spotify to get your single into its system. An email will be sent to you that the single has been added and scheduled for release.

Launch Pre-Save/ Pre-Order Campaign

You should launch a pre-order or Spotify pre-save campaign. Pre-orders can help you chart but you should focus more on presage since most people want to stream instead. Pre-add is for Apple Music while pre-save is for Spotify.

Create A Smart Link Or Landing Page

This smart link is a web page that contains all the different places people can buy or listen to your new song. This link should be used for your social media posts, email newsletters, etc.  


This isn’t highly dependent on the pre-save campaign. Having a smart link is important with or without a pre-save campaign.

Prepare Single Announcement Post 

This post is the first post that mentions you releasing a single. It can be posted on your social media pages and your music website. You can also send it out to your email list as a newsletter. 


Usually, artists will rather post their cover art for this initial announcement. Some artists also post a video teaser on their social media before the official announcement. You can also share a snippet, whichever feels comfortable to you.


To maximize this post, add your pre-save/ pre-order link to direct your potential listeners to after they see your post. 


Day Of Release Post

If you have an animated music video or a normal music video to share with your post, this is when you should post a snippet of it on Instagram and Twitter. 


Set in place a proper content marketing strategy for the post. 

Consider Live Streaming

If you have a fan base who’s already anticipating your next project, you can do a live show on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube to promote your single. You can also host a QnA session to talk to fans about the release.


You can do this on twitch.

Phase 4: Days Before The Release 

Now, this is the anticipation stage of this song release guide. The days before release, you’re to channel your energy to make people anticipate your song. Here’s how your checklist should look:


  1. Create a social media content schedule
  2. Design your email newsletter
  3. Get smart link/landing page ready
  4. Schedule music video 
  5. Create a custom thumbnail for your video
  6. Prepare video clips for social media ads

Create a content schedule 

You should have your content ready to be posted. This content may include captions, links, and other content you plan to use for the post. Here’s a guide on content marketing for independent musicians.


Here are the platforms that your post should go on:

  • Instagram
  • IG stories
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • TikTok 
  • Snapchat

Design Your Email Newsletter

Set up your email marketing strategy and get your emails ready. Keep the emails simple and focused on your song release.

Customize Your Smart Link 

You may need to customize your smart link before your single goes live. This may include adding your music video link, social media links, and Facebook pixel for retargeting.


If you’re using a landing page, you will need to add the direct links to the digital platform your single is going to be available on. Google Analytics and Facebook pixel will give you insights into your audience demographics.


Schedule Music Video

You can schedule your music as a premiere on YouTube. This will turn your music into a live stream event where fans can watch it together live for the first time. 

Video Preparation For Social Media Ads

Create short video content to be promoted on your social media. These videos will draw attention to your YouTube and your streaming platforms. 

Phase 5: Day Of Release Checklist

All of the phases in this song release guide lead to this day. You’re to promote on all your social media platforms. 

Promote On Social Media Channels

  • Facebook post
  • Instagram post
  • Instagram stories
  • Twitter
  • Post on your YouTube
  • Send an email newsletter

Upload Music Video

  • Embed the video into your smart link and landing page
  • Add a smart link to video description

Update Music Website

  • Create a page for your single, add the smart link and embed the music video to your homepage
  • If you have a custom landing page, make sure to have the video embedded there and add links to the individual streaming platforms.

Update Social Media Profiles

  • Add the smart link to your profile description
  • If you have a banner, update it at this time

Add Lyrics On Streaming Platforms 

  • Apple Music
  • Genius
  • Musixmatch


Make The Song Public

You can upload your song to the public on these platforms:

  • SoundCloud
  • Audiomack

Phase 6: Post-Release 

This is the last process of the song release guide. Here’s what should be doing at this time:


  • Resend your release to your email list for people who didn’t open in the first campaign 
  • Promote multiple times on social media. You shouldn’t just post once. Promote your music frequently on all social media platforms.
  • Create your own themed playlist. You can build a playlist around your music and its genre.
  • Get playlisted. Here’s an article to help you get playlisted
  • Post your music on blogs. Here’s an article on the top African blogs to help you promote your music.
  • Schedule your next release by following this song release guide

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