As with every other aspect of marketing yourself in the music industry, when you choose to release your music can make all the difference. In this article we break down the best months in which to drop your new record as well as those months which will ensure a flop.Guest post by Janelle Rogers of Symphonic Blog
Over the past few years, I’ve put together a month-by-month guide with the best time to release your album. It’s patently simple: which months would maximize your release and which would destroy it?
This year, I’m taking it a up a notch and giving you additional ideas of how you can maximize your release in a specific month or how to schedule based on your album’s specific subject matter or genre. There is one rule that stays the same: start planning your album release and reach out to media three months in advance. You should also release your album on Friday, which is the official release day of the week that was set by the industry in 2015.
As for when to release based on competition, I saw two major shifts in 2017. Typically, I avoid March because of SXSW
and October because of CMJ. This past year, I saw little impact with SXSW in regards to securing press coverage for our clients. October, which is usually a looming black hole, turned into our best month for coverage. In fact, it was coming in so fast and so abundantly that we were struggling to keep up with it (a very good problem to have).
Like last year, I’m beginning the calendar with March to maximize your lead time for an effective album release. If you want to know what I’d suggest for January and February of 2018,you can review my forecast from 2017
As mentioned above, in years past, I recommended avoiding releasing an album in March simply because SXSW takes over the minds and hearts of media. We didn’t see that this year. Although we still recommend avoiding releasing an album during the conference (March 9-16), the rest of month shouldn’t matter as much. Just make sure you’re getting started on your promotion well before the end of 2017.How to maximize your album release
- SXSW is still a major music industry event, so a great way to maximize the release is to actually be in Austin during the festival. Look at former showcases and party lists to see if there are any that could be a good fit for your band. Reach out to the people in charge! If you secure a showcase, make sure you promote it while you’re promoting your album release. If you’re not able to make headway on live performances, still try to make it down there to network. Contact bands or industry people you respect, and find out how you can support their efforts at the conference.
- Spring is in the air, and people are ready to shake out the frigid winter blues. Media knows this, which is why this is the time they put together playlists that are spring friendly. If you have songs that create a spring feel or have a spring like title, this could be a great time to release them.
- Spring break! What’s spring break without a great spring break playlist? If you have a song that fits the party theme, now may be time to let it out.
Typically, my advice is to wait until the middle of the month to release an album because of SXSW. In 2018, I’m declaring April wide open.How to maximize your album release
- The dreaded April 15 tax deadline looms in the US. Do you have songs about money, taxes, or tunes that could just help relieve the stress of filing to Uncle Sam?
- Continue the spring theme if you have any songs that are a fit.
This is a great month to release albums. It’s your last chance to release your album before the summer festival season hits.
How to maximize your album release:
- Mother’s Day presents a time to give that great, big ode to mom. Do you have an album or song that honors your mom (and all the other amazing moms out there)? Make this known, and also look outside traditional music sources when pitching press. Pitch the mom blogs and magazines so they can see just how much they’re appreciated!
Music-festival season is here, so unless you plan to work the festival circuit or you have great seasonal tie-ins, I recommend waiting to release your album until the fall.How to maximize your album release
- Indie pop bands unite! This season is made for you with all those upbeat summer songs that make us dream of lazy days at the beach. If you have a summer anthem, this is the time to release it.
- Journalists spend a great deal of time trying to keep their head above water during festival season. If music festivals are a cornerstone of your band and also your greatest asset, this is absolutely the best time to release your album.
- We honored mom, now it’s time to honor dad on Father’s Day. Have a song or album about your dad or fathers in general? Now’s a great time to release it.
- If you have songs that have a coming of age theme or could fit the graduation theme, this could be a great opportunity to release them.
Just like June, the same rules apply for festival season.
How to maximize your album release:
- In the US, there’s the Fourth of July. I don’t expect the civil discourse we’re seeing in America to dissipate, so if you have something political to say on your album, this is the time to say it.
- Summer songs are still a major factor.
The festival season is starting to wind down toward the end of the month. The standard rules apply for August that applied for the rest of the summer.How to maximize your album release
- Media is trying to soak in the last sun of summer, so you have another chance for coverage if your songs are summer friendly.
- If you have any songs that could be great for back to school or have a coming-of-age theme for those entering college, this month would be a good time for them.
Alas, festival season is over, and the opportunities are starting to open up with media. This is a great time to release an album if you’re an emerging artist.How to maximize your album release
- If you’re waiting until September to release a song or album with a back-to-school theme, it’s best to do it at the beginning of the month.
- We’re hitting that cozy, crisp time of year where we long for songs of comfort. If you’re an Americana or folk type of band, this could be the right time for you to release your album.
In 2017, this was our best month for press coverage, so we highly recommend an October release.How to maximize your album release
- Like September, this is a good time to release music with a fall theme.
- If you have songs that fit a haunting, spooky, or straight-up Halloween theme, now is the time to release them. Some of the outlets who are focused on pop-culture themes could be particularly interested.
As I write this section, it’s now only the tail end of October, so there’s a bit of guess work on what will happen next year. Mid-term elections could be a major focus considering the political climate. It’s also safe to assume that best-of-year lists will stay play a major factor.How to maximize your album release
- As we transition into winter, songs about comfort, coziness and the first signs of winter could be of significance.
- If you’re writing songs with an air of civic mindedness or political themes, use them this month as your rallying call.
We expect “best of” lists will still be on the radar. It can sometimes be a great time to release an album, however, because there’s little competition in the indie world. If you decide to release in December, do it with caution, and also do it before December 15 when media starts to shut down for the end of the year holidays.How to maximize your album release
- Do you have songs that connect with the winter season? Give them a push.
- If you have any holiday-related songs, this is a great way to grab attention, even while outlets are starting to shut down. Keep in mind that not everyone loves a good holiday song, so make sure you do your due diligence in finding the ones that do.
Mid-to-late January can be a good time to release an album since the competition for new releases isn’t there yet. We wouldn’t recommend releasing it any sooner than that, because, for the most part, media is still getting back in the swing of things after the holiday season and needs time to catch up.How to maximize your album release
- Keep those winter songs coming.
- If you have songs with a positive twist, this could be a great time for a release. Think about the people who want to start off the year with a fresh start. How can you appeal to them?
- Songs that contribute to a great exercise playlist are always in vogue, but those January resolutions help take it to the next level.
February is also a great time to release an album due to relatively light competition from outside forces.How to maximize your album release
- Love and anti-love songs could get an extra push this month because of Valentine’s Day. If your album is rich in relationship content, look at this month as your guide.
- Folk Alliance occurs in mid-February. If you’re a folk band playing the festival, definitely look at releasing an album around this time. Many of the same rules apply as I mentioned with SXSW. If you have an opportunity to be there and network, do it.
- Workout songs are still in play this month.
As you can see, there are a lot of angles you can use to maximize your album release and schedule it for the best chance for success. The tips mentioned above are some of the more obvious in our forte of indie rock and folk. If you have songs or an album based on certain themes, a quick Google search can help you discover additional ideas to enhance your release.Janelle Rogers began her 20-year music industry career working for SXSW Music and Media Conference. She then went on to work for BMG Distribution for 10 years in the alternative music department where she championed bands like Kings of Leon, Ray LaMontagne, The Strokes, Belle & Sebastian, and The White Stripes. In 2002 she launched Green Light Go Music PR as a haven of honesty, integrity, and passion for underrepresented artists and labels. She has since been named Mentor of the Year by the University of Michigan, Dearborn, appeared as a panelist at NXNE, and been an official SXSW mentor.