Your group has been working for months on arranging, tracking, and giving feedback on your album tracks and at last, you have a pack of beautifully mastered tracks ready to show the world. You are sitting on months of hard work, fundraising, and excitement, so the last thing you want to do is share your music to a captive audience of.....your music director's mom and your roommates. You need to invest just as much thought into marketing an album as you do in recording it, and the tips below will help you do it right.
Before You Drop
Build awareness for the album release DURING the recording process
Most people think marketing an album is focused on the time when your music is ready to go, but don't let that be the first time your fans are hearing of this! Studio selfies, clips of soloists belting their face off, or loving posts about your engineers all foster excitement and anticipation for the music you're working that gets people looking out for updates for album release dates.
An even better way to take advantage of fans in this stage? Collect their emails! Tell people that you're creating an email list to send updates to your fans with information from the group throughout the album process. Need to create a quick list last minute or make it a bit longer? You can also add emails from students who auditioned for you, alumni, or crowdfunding backers if you used it for fundraising. This list can be an invaluable resource even after the album is released for the group to announce concerts and projects.
Release a single or preview
One of the best ways to get people excited for your music is to give them a taste of what to expect when they get the whole thing. This album is probably one of the only times you've recorded the group in this iteration, and people may not know what to expect if you recorded new arrangements, with a new engineer, or if you're featuring younger soloists. This single gets them begging for more - but you need to pick the right track! Think of the singles you hear your favorite artists release on the radio. A great single is typically upbeat, high energy, with a solid soloist on a song your fans would know. That can mean the most Top 40 upbeat song on your EP/Album, the winning arrangement from your ICCA set, the song that got you 50K plus views on YouTube - something popular for your audience! It can also help to make this single free/more accessible for audiences so it spreads wider and faster than an iTunes or Loudr link with a 30 second preview.
Shoot a music video
I've talked before about several reasons why recording a music video idea is a good idea, but it is one of the BEST promotional tools for an album. A free single spreads wide and fast, but it's nothing compared to a quality music video, especially if it's one of the tracks off the album (like your single). This video gives people something quick and low commitment they can watch to get a sense of your music, and video has proven to be one of the most engaging forms of social media over things like images, links, and text posts. You want as many of pieces of content people can share as possible to reach the widest audience, and a video is your best bet for extensive, engaged reach!
Plan an album release party
You've worked hard on making this album a success, it's time to celebrate! This party is a chance to have fun and commemorate all the work you've put in, but it can also be a fun experience for friends, family, and fans to come and have a dedicated time to listen to every track, and hear the stories behind them. Take the time to talk about a few favorite tracks, thank everyone who made it a success, and use this as a chance to perform new material in front of an audience of your biggest supporters! Promoting this event can give people an event instead of just a date to look forward to.
On the Day of the Drop
An important reminder - in order to have a successful drop day, you need to have a DAY to work towards. Make sure you are on the same page as your online distributor (typically Loudr) so you know exactly what day your album will be dropping on platforms. Licensing takes time so check in with them to make sure your days line up.
Use ALL Social Media in the right way
The best tool you'll have on this day to get your message out there is social media, and every platform has its tips and tricks. Overall, most groups tend to fare best on Facebook, so use this one as your base and the others as accessories. Make sure you are posting unique content to every social media, and do NOT use apps that automatically share Facebook posts to Twitter or Instagrams to Facebook. Your followers on each platform expect a unique experience and seeing the same thing over and over will get dull quickly. Looking for a good way to share? iTunes Music (different from iTunes) and Spotify links have the best looking players, so aim to use these in your release of the whole album. For Instagram and Snapchat, focus on sending people to a link and highlighting good quality imagery.
Tag everyone you can
Make sure you tag EVERYONE involved on the project. Tag your recording company, your engineers, your school, anyone who is associated with the project and has a business/artist Facebook page! As a pro tip, you can also click on the bottom right hand corner of a Facebook post to "Comment as "You"" as opposed to your page and tag all the individual members of your group so it shows up on their friends and families' feeds. Have all of your members share the post once it is up! It's best to stagger these shares throughout the day so it continues to be bumped up to the top of newsfeeds all day long. You can also use mentions on twitter to increase visibility and retweets. You have to be more sparing on Twitter due to the 140 character limit, but there's nothing wrong with following up the release tweet with several thank you tweets.
Highlight and encourage engagement
Create a #hashtag for your album and encourage all of your friends and fans to tweet about your music and their new purchase. Interact with those who engage with you and retweet their excitement and photos to build hype and convince more people to check out the album! Run a contest for best fan reaction to a song, best tweet, best photo, all of your friends will appreciate the fun activity and the more posts about your page and album that go out, the more people will see them on social media.
After the Drop
Never stop promoting
Just because your album came out and the big momentum has passed, doesn't mean you can't continue mentioning your album! If you made physical copies, bring them to all of your gigs in the semester or two after your album release. Run a raffle during your concerts that you will pick a winner from anyone who buys your album during the event (sites like Loudr allow you to connect a face to name). Use a social media scheduling tool like Hootsuite to set up social media posts to go out every couple of weeks highlighting a track or the whole album. Your original social media buzz will only last a day or two, so it's important to continue to remind people of the project to keep sales going.
Get good press
A good way to continue the hype of your album release is to get mentions in large journals and media outlets that are relevant to your community and fans. While it may not be easy to get a feature on Buzzfeed or Huffington Post (though a great music video for a Top 40 song can always go viral!), you can get highlighted by on campus news organizations like the school paper or HerCampus, or local community media outlets like your college town newspaper. Send them the album for free and ask for reviews! You can also get your album reviewed by the team of a cappella experts at RARB.
In the a cappella community, you also have the opportunity to be featured on compilations or be nominated for awards. Check out the deadlines for BOCA, Voices Only, WACA or the CARAs, most of them have deadlines in the Fall semester for anything released in the past year. Once your album is complete, don't forget to submit the tracks for consideration, as these competitions can be a great way to get a big audience of a cappella fans to hear your music who may have never heard it otherwise.
I hope with this advice, your album launch will be a raging success! Recording is an amazing way to bond with your group, grow group sound, and experiment with new things that will take your group to new heights. These marketing strategies will continue the growth you can get with your project, and I can't wait to hear all about your upcoming release! Tell me all about your release plan in the comments.