Music Release Planning is without a doubt vital for any music release. No matter if you are planning to put out an album or just a couple of singles.
Being prepared is key. Most musicians know that they have to plan well in advance of the anticipated release date.
I get many questions about the right lead time. However, there’s one important question that nobody ever askes me.
‘How many years in advance do I need to plan?’ Yes, you heard right. Years!
Here’s the thing: if you always only plan the next three months till your release, you’ll never look at the big picture. Surely, having the immediate 12 months ahead planning is very important indeed. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean you should neglect to have a plan for the future.
Have a 3-year plan and a 5-year plan for proper music release planning
Going from 3 months to 3 years might sound like an awfully long time. However, the better you can visualise your goals for the future the better equipped you are to reach them.
What is more, getting on the touring and festival circuit can take some time. Especially after corona where a lot of bands play the originally scheduled concerts before any new can be planned.
Having a larger time frame to work with can also give you a good overview of how you want to grow. Only ever planning the next three months will cut you off of a lot of growth potential.
For once, social media numbers take time to develop. You simply cannot grow an audience, online or offline, in an instance. It takes time to create enough content for the algorithms of YouTube and co to pick up on you.
Also, digital music streaming needs a long-term investment of time and elbow grease. Getting on more and more playlists will take time as well as growing your follower count.
The best way you can achieve this is by having a constant stream of releases. That is to say that this way each release can build up on the previous one.
Why long term planning matters
Another important reason for long term planning is the money flow. Especially if you are applying for institutional funding. Some funding can only be applied for once. That means that long term planning with your money can make a huge difference.
If you know what money you’ll need for the next 5 years you can plan much more strategically. Mapping out the funding landscape when you need it the most and make use of whatever income stream you have in between.
Also, alternative money income streams like Patreon or Bandcamp need constant content and attention streams to grow as well.
How to start a 3 (and 5) year plan and music release planning
Is important to break down the 3 years into smaller nuggets of time. Only looking at the big picture all the time can be very daunting. You can even take a large poster or piece of paper, some post-its and markers in different colours and go to town!
Now, write down what your achievements will be at the end of the 3 years. This is important to understand, don’t be vague. Your 3-year plan has no space for maybes!
This could look like this:
In 3-years I will have released two albums and 3 EPs. My social media numbers have grown by 20 %. I’m having a monthly income that supports my bare living.
Now, break down what needs to be happening in one year in order to get to your 3-year goal. Perhaps it could read like this:
In one year I need to have release one EP and album. I have grown my fanbase online by 7 %. My income stream is pickung up and each month I can see an income increase.
After the one year plan, what actions can you take in the next 90 days to get you there?
I’m doing a target audience research in order to find growth potential. I have release the first EP and working on mastering the first album. I’m getting into financially planning my income activly.
Are you on the lookout for industry support? Wow them with a proper 3 year plan!
You probably can tell by now that industry people love to plan. What do they love more? Musicians who also love to plan!
The simple reason is that if you run a record label, you really want to know what’s going on in the next years. That has many reasons, one is being that vinyl pressing takes much longer now. Another is that most record labels have a limited money budget. For once, knowing when each artist is bringing out a new album is vital to secure a stable money flow.
Not just that, also making sure that the employees have actual time to work each release properly needs planning. Why do you need to know this?
If you want to approach a record label to get signed, this information can get you a ticket. Yes, the music is still centre stage.
However, it can bring you an added bonus to be ready for business. Proper music release planning is part of this!