The future of music

How to Release a Single: 11 Easy Steps

December 29, 2023
How to release a single

If you want to know how to release a single, we have good news for you – releasing a single is fairly easy these days.

However, if you want to become a successful artist, you can’t just put your single out there and expect it to go viral.

You also need to put the work in, and that includes developing effective release strategies.

So in today’s article, we will tell you about the best way to release a single, but we will also introduce you to techniques that will help you get your music heard. 

How to Release a Single – 11 Steps

Releasing a single is arguably the best way to start your music career.

But that’s not the only thing that will pave your way to success.

The thing is, with digital tools and streaming platforms, releasing a song is quite easy – and that means everyone is doing it.

All right, maybe not everyone, but a lot of people.

Now, instead of letting that fact discourage you, you should think about the best ways to stand out from the crowd and get yourself noticed.

But before jumping into effective music promotion and marketing strategies, let us take you through the essential steps for releasing your first single.

1. Choose Your Distributor

First and foremost, you need to choose the right distributor.

As an independent artist, you have many options at your disposal.

And luckily, there are many great music distribution services and companies you can check out.

These companies are specialized in helping artists release their music on large streaming platforms.

And most music distribution companies for new artists provide two options:

A Spotify playlist on a person's laptop.

But each distributor has its own features and conditions.

Ideally, you’ll search for a company that allows you to keep 100% of all the money you make from streaming royalties.

That’s sometimes a bit tricky, especially for newcomers who are still trying to prove their skills and their song’s hit potential. 

Nevertheless, you need to make sure the company you choose for releasing your single aligns with your abilities, style, and goals.

When choosing the right distributing platform, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the company fit your style and music genre
  • What is your budget?
  • How often do you want to release singles?
  • Do you need any extra tools and services?
  • What is more important to you: speed or affordability?

2. Make a Plan

If you want to release your first single successfully, you need to plan everything.

Now, preparations for a new single release aren’t as complicated as preparations for the release of a studio album,

But you’ll need to put some time and effort into it nevertheless.

First of all, you’ll have to decide on a release date.

Choosing a good release date is important because it will allow you to plan everything else based on that date.

When you choose a release date for your single, you can create a timeline – this includes making a promotional plan, defining different pre-release stages, and so on.

If you don’t have a manager or a music promotion service that represents you, it’s important to take this step seriously.

If you plan things carefully and stick to your schedule, it will be easier for you to go through the next steps.

And you won’t feel lost or overwhelmed during the whole process.

3. Develop a Marketing Strategy

As a part of your pre-release campaign, you should develop an effective music marketing strategy.

Many aspiring singers and musicians approach this step by finding a hook – a unique feature that represents or teases their music.

A hook can be musical, conceptual, or visual, and finding it will help you build your promotional activities around it.

Music marketing strategy.

But music marketing is so much more than standard promotional activities.

Generally, music marketing considers the bigger picture (the what, the why, and the where), and it usually involves building a brand, planning and creating a social media presence, advertising, public relations, and so on.

If you want to launch an effective marketing campaign for the release of your single, you should think about the following questions:

  • What is the essence of your single?
  • What is your ‘voice’?
  • What is your message?

If you know who you are as an artist and what you’re trying to say with your song, it will be easier for you to reach out to potential listeners.

And finding potential listeners before even releasing your single is important.

The thing is, you have to promote your single both before and after its release. 

That’s the only way to get your music heard and start growing your audience. 

See also: 15 Ways to Promote Your Music

4. Create a Visual Identity

An important part of every music marketing campaign is building a visual brand.

Since you’re releasing a single and not an album, you don’t have to develop a complex visual identity.

But you need a strong visual representation of your musical identity.

You can achieve that by creating:

  • Artwork
  • Album visuals
  • Cover banners

Creating digital artwork and imagery for your music is essential – it will grab the attention of your future listeners, and it will give them an insight into what your music is all about.

Plus, creating design assets and artwork early on will help you promote your single once it comes out.

5. Create a Pre-Save Campaign

One of the things you need to do before releasing your single is to allow your fans to pre-save your track.

You can build up pre-saves on platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal, which will help you get more attention once your single comes out.

Moreover, enabling Spotify pre-saves allow all your fans and followers to see your newly released track in their music library from day one.

6. Make a Music Video

Another thing you can do while planning to release your single is to make a music video.

This will add more depth to your marketing campaign, and it will ultimately help you gain exposure once your single comes out.

If you want, you can release the music video the same day as your single, or you can do it afterward.

Either way, you should shoot your video before your release date.

man recording a music video

Now, creating a music video is rather easy these days, and you can do it even if you have a limited budget.

To shoot a music video for your song, some of the steps you’ll have to take are:

  1. Conceptualization (finding your approach and creating a mood board)
  2. Preparation (creating a storyboard, location scouting, and fining a crew if necessary)
  3. Getting the right equipment 
  4. Filming
  5. Editing 

If you want to make a quality music video, there are many things to think about, both technical and conceptual.

That said, you should plan your shooting way before the release date of your single.

See also: How to Make a Music Video

7. Submit Your Single for Playlisting

If you want to get yourself noticed and start building a music career, you should also consider submitting your song for playlisting.

Large streaming platforms like Spotify play an important role in music distribution and promotion.

And they can help you bring your single to your target audience.

One of the best ways to include playlists in your marketing strategy is to reach out to playlist curators.

Playlist curators are individuals who build playlists, and they can include your track in popular playlists that fit your style, mood, and genre.

Also, with Spotify for Artists, you can pitch your song for playlisting even before you release it.

You can also submit your single via playlist submission platforms like SubmitHub.

There are many options for you to explore, so don’t be afraid to take things into your own hands and reach out to relevant platforms and individuals. 

8. Develop a Social Media Strategy 

Another popular music marketing and promotion strategy is creating a strong online presence.

And one of the best ways to do that is to utilize social media.

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other relevant platforms can help you grow your audience, and they’re a great way to reach out to your fans and connect with them.

Moreover, social media platforms can give you insights into the popularity of your content and, therefore, your newly released single.

Using social media for music marketing.

For starters, you can think about the platforms you feel comfortable with and that you use regularly. 

Being active on social media will help you promote your single, but it can also help you create hype before you release it. 

The important thing is to create engaging content, practice repeated messaging (to really get your message across), and regularly post links to your single.

Also, don’t forget about the short-form content – if you want to reach a large number of people, you should include short, engaging videos that promote your single.

9. Send Out a Music Press Release

Although utilizing social media to promote your single is important, don’t forget about standard marketing strategies.

Sending a ‘classic’ music press release is important for every new artist, and it remains the most-used way of getting more coverage.

With that in mind, you should write a press release and include all the details about your single and send it to relevant magazines, bloggers, and journalists. 

10. Keep Your EPK Updated

Another way to let others know about your single is to keep your EPK updated.

A music EPK (Electronic Press Kit) is a pre-packaged digital resume that helps music industry professionals (managers, booking agents, venues, journalists, and promoters) to access and review your work.

So, your EPK is like your music business card, and it should include your bio, photos, videos, contact information, any upcoming shows or tours, and press releases if available.

You can include your EPK on your website, but you can also send it to journalists who might be interested in writing about your new single. 

11. Keep the Momentum 

Once you release your single via your chosen distribution platform, you need to keep the momentum going.

But what does that really mean?

Well, you need to use this post-released period well – you should book gigs, get more press coverage, and so on.

In other words, you need to stay in people’s minds, and you need to stay relevant.

people in a concert

You’ve probably noticed how many artists decide to release another single shortly after releasing the first one.

In music, there is something called the waterfall strategy – in essence, this strategy centers around an artist releasing a new single every 3 – 4 weeks.

So, a waterfall release strategy is when an EP or album is released gradually, with the goal to keep the fans interested.

Also, releasing more singles means getting more streams and streaming rewards.

And that’s what streaming platforms want too – they need new music, so they encourage the artist to release new songs regularly. 

Plus, with so many new singles coming out daily, it’s easy to get out of sight.

And keeping the momentum going means precisely the opposite. 

How to Build a Release Strategy

As you can see, releasing a music single nowadays is not so hard, but it does require a lot of time and effort.

If you want to learn how to release a single by yourself, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with different music distributors, promotion services, and modern music marketing strategies.

In other words, you have to develop an effective strategy for releasing a single track.

New artists need to release music more frequently to keep their audience interested; this is referred to as the waterfall strategy. 

Some of the benefits of releasing a single via the waterfall strategy include better reactions, more streams, chart growth in fans, and support of the algorithm. 

blue condenser microphone

Besides choosing a release strategy that fits your goals and preferences, there are some other things you should keep in mind when releasing a single.

For instance, you should try to make your songs more playlist-friendly, meaning you should keep your songs under 4 minutes, consider music trends, and so on.

Either way, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to stockpile different kinds of recordings for future releases – this will help you keep the momentum going as we talked about earlier.

After all, there are various kinds of tracks you can release as a single, including:

  • The lead single – the first song you release from an upcoming LP or EP
  • The deeper dive – a follow-up single
  • The B-side – songs that didn’t make it onto the album
  • The featured artist’s track (guest appearance)
  • Collaboration with another artist
  • Bonus content – remixes, alternate versions, and so on
  • The song that already came out – many artists release songs that already came out as a single to keep their momentum

Of course, releasing music regularly and creating songs that fit current trends don’t work for everyone.

And at the end of the day, you should do what suits you best and what feels right.

The most important thing is, after all, the quality of your music.

If you believe in your music and what you’re trying to say, and if you’re proactive and persistent, everything else will fall into place eventually.

How to Release a Music Single – Final Thoughts

Learning how to release a single and getting your music heard can be challenging for independent artists.

But if you have the right approach, it’s possible to achieve your goals.

To release a standalone track, you’ll have to prepare your track for release, choose a music distributor, and build a powerful release strategy.

It’s important to promote your single both before and after its release, and you should try to keep the momentum going by performing live or planning your next release. 

But the most important thing is to make good music – that’s arguably the best way to succeed. 

You may also like: How to Make a Music Demo

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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