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How to Release a Single in 2022: 11 Steps for Artists

Releasing a single is the quickest and easiest way to start your journey as an artist, get your music heard & pave your first steps in the music world. 

But as we all know, the music industry has changed - drastically - and is continuing to evolve. Which means for new artists entering the playing field, there’s now a number of things worth considering before releasing a single in 2022.

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How to release a music single in 2022

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Releasing a single is not only the quickest way to start making your mark as an artist but as well as that, the more singles you put out, the more experience you’ll build releasing and promoting your own music, which will in turn garner you a bigger advantage when it comes to releasing bigger projects, such as an EP or even an entire album.

In the modern fast-paced world of the music industry, and in response to the big changes that digital streaming has brought about, newer artists need to release music more regularly in order to keep their audience engaged and interested. 

This is what’s commonly referred to as the ‘Waterfall Strategy’.

And it’s a good one to be aware of when it comes to marking out your overall music release strategy. 

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What is the Waterfall Strategy in music?

<br>To put it short - the music industry has changed. MASSIVELY. With the rise of digital streaming, the average listener’s attention span has reduced and as a response, albums are becoming shorter and shorter, with EP’s now becoming the most popular end goal. 

Cue the waterfall strategy.

The waterfall strategy centres around an artist releasing a new single every 3 - 4 weeks, just as the previous single is at its peak or just starting to decline, in a bid to stay relevant, build an audiencecreate an eventual EP or album over time. 

But how does it work?

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In the current streaming giant landscape, releasing more singles results in more streaming rewards. And with streaming platforms acting as an important revenue stream for independent artists, it stands that the more content you post to platforms like YouTube and Spotify, the more you’ll qualify for their rewards programmes and the more revenue you’re likely to earn. 

By releasing regular music via singles, you’ll also be primarily focussing on making LPs, but doing it in such a way that you’re building an eventual EP or album in the process. And regular music releases will prevent you from falling into the dangerous ‘out of sight, out of mind territory’ among your fans. 

Several artists, big and small, have moved quickly up the music ladder & built huge followings by adhering to this strategy. Artists like Charlie XCX have tapped in on the instant nature of modern platforms to grow an audience and release an eventual EP in the process:

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“You don’t have to wait around anymore, get into a queue, wait for a record label or some company to tell you it’s your turn up to bat. When you’re sitting there with a really good song, even though you’ve just put out an EP or project or a mixtape or an album, but you're like, ‘I want to keep it moving,’ you can.” - Charli XCX

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Here’s some of the other benefits of releasing your music via the “waterfall strategy”;

- Higher impressions: your music will get heard by more people which will in turn generate new fans and listeners 

- Chart growth in fans: you can see how your audience is growing and what tracks have done the best based on streaming and data analytics 

- Supports the algorithm: streaming platforms WANT you to turn out new music on the reg to populate their algorithmic playlists, such as Spotify’s ‘Release Radar’ and ‘New Music Friday’ list.

But what’s the catch?

Well, because singles are a whole lot easier to put out than albums, the trouble is - everyone's doing it, and there’s about 24,000 songs released across the world every. Single. Day. 

That’s where the importance of your release & promotion strategy comes in, in order to cut through the noise, get the industry’s attention & make YOURS the single that stands out. 

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11 steps to promote a single in 2022 

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1. Choose the right distributor

<br>How where you choose to distribute your single will make a big difference in how much it gets picked up by new listeners and potential fans. Plus it’ll also affect how much money you actually make from streams of your track.

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How to Release a Single for Musicians - Choose a distributor

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When you release your music with Ditto Music, we’ll distribute your track to all the biggest online streaming platforms, including SpotifyApple MusicAmazon Music & more, plus a load of other online platforms and stores, such as TikTokYouTubeInstagram. 

You’ll also receive 100% of all the money you make from streaming royalties and get access to promo tools like pre-save links, chart registration and more.

We handle music distribution for over 500k artists worldwide. Sign up for your free trial today!

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2. Plan ahead

<br>Releasing a single doesn't require as much pre-planning as releasing an album, but you’ll still need to give yourself enough time for planning and preparation.

Deciding on a release date is really important early on. You can develop your timeline for the rest of your release plan based on this date, and set deadlines for tasks that need to be completed in the lead up to and after your release date.

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How to Release a Single for Musicians - Plan Ahead

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In terms of the actual marketing and release strategy, you’ll want to start thinking and making decisions about this roughly around 1 - 2 months in advance. 

Define the different stages and sketch out a promotional plan. Create a timeline and make sure you stick to it. Make notes on how you’re going to introduce your single, create hype, boost the potential for earnings & keep the momentum going (read on for more tips on this!).

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3. Establish a hook & craft your promo plan around it 

<br>Your promotion plan will ultimately dictate the overall success of your single release. Investing time in promotional assets and steps will help you enhance your relationship with your fans and increase your gains from a single release.

But the singles that stand out are the ones that have their own individual hook i.e. a creative, unique or interesting feature, whether that’s musical, conceptual, visual, or something else. 

Once you’ve defined yours, make sure to rotate the rest of your promotional efforts around it. Highlight and reiterate the hook in your visual assets, music video, press release, track description bio, hints and teases & everything in between. 

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How to Release a Single for Musicians - Promo plan

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You may even want to consider another angle beyond the primary hook. For casual fans, the song on its own may not be enough to entice their attention. Encourage fans to take a leap of faith and check out your song by offering some sort of additional benefit, such as a free piece of merch, free gig tickets to see you perform, or other extras that might encourage a listener to push play or hit download. 

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4. Design assets & artwork, incl. clean versions etc 

<br>Because streaming has changed how we consume new music, it’s also changed how we perceive new artists. This means digital artwork and imagery to accompany new music is now one of the major shapers of listeners’ opinions.  

Create artwork, album imagery, cover banners and anything else you need for assets well in advance, so you have them at the ready and can focus on promoting your single when it’s out.

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How to Release a Single for Musicians - Design your artwork

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Your single should have a visually catchy and captivating thumbnail that you can post and repurpose in other creative ways, such as across social media and posters, and in your music or lyric video. 

Top Tip: Make sure you adhere to the best image sizes to use across streaming platformssocial media.

Taking the time to create a clean version of your track is also worth its weight in gold - especially if you’re aiming to get your track on the radio. Radio hosts & DJs won’t turn a blind eye to expletives, so keep it PG and have a clean version ready to go. 

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5. Create a Pre-Save campaign

<br>Creating a pre-save campaign allows fans to take action and pre-save your track before it lands officially. Building up pre-saves on platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal can give your track or album the huge boost it needs to go viral on release day. 

Racking up pre-saves on Spotify for example, guarantees that all your fans and followers will see it in their music library from day one, which can help you generate a high stream count and build that early momentum. 

When you sign up to release music with Ditto, you’ll also get a free Ditto SmartLink which you can use to direct followers straight from your socials or website to pre-save your song on Spotify & any other major platforms you’re releasing to. 

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How to Release a Single for Musicians - Pre Save Campaign

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Find out more about Ditto SmartLinks. 

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6. Make a music video

<br>Making a music video adds an additional dimension to your campaign and your track which can create a deeper connection between your work and your fans. 

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How to Release a Single for Musicians - Make a Music Video

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Make sure to plan and produce your music video before you launch your new release, so it’s ready to go on release day too.

Making a music video will require a full blown schedule and plan of its own. So make sure you start production well in advance of your release date to avoid running into any timely issues.

On a budget? No problem. You can still shoot an EPIC music video with a small price point! Find out how.

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7. Submit for playlists

<br>Getting playlisted is now one of the best ways to get your music heard and listened to by new fans and audiences. People rarely listen to isolated singles anymore, playlists are now the listening norm.

And now many big music platforms make it easy for you to submit your tracks to playlists, via their artist services offerings. Through Spotify for Artists for example, you’ll be able to pitch your track for playlisting before you release it. And while there’s a high level of competition to make it on these lists, landing your track on a major Spotify playlist could make all the difference in terms of getting it heard. 

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How to Release a Single for Musicians - Submit for Playlists

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Learn how to submit music for Spotify playlists directly!

You can also submit your track for playlisting via big playlist submission platforms like SubmitHub. SubmitHub is widely recognised and used by many blogs, record labels, radio stations and playlist curators to discover new music. 

You can submit a track to SubmitHub with a link to your song on SoundCloud, YouTube, Spotify or any other big streaming service. If a curator or blogger likes your song, they’ll get in touch and give you the opportunity to discuss the release and provide any info they may need to aid their coverage. 

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8. Utilise social media 

<br>Whether it’s posting short form content of a 15 second snippet of the track on TikTok or Instagram Reels, partnering up with an influencer or tapping into a recent dance trend - use social media to your advantage. 

Short-form content especially has blown up over the past few years, with platforms now introducing features that are catered towards this type of specific content. 

And with the majority of the world’s population now avid social media users, that’s where your audience is most likely to be hanging out on the daily. Making this the best place for them to interact with you & your new release. 

Shout out about it on Stories & feed posts, and make sure to include a link in your bio to where fans can go and stream it directly. 

Find out more about how to promote your music on TikTokInstagram.

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How to Release a Single for Musicians - Utilise Social Media

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9. Write & send out a music press release

<br>Although it might sound a bit outdated, writing a music press release is still one of the most-used ways of getting more online media and editorial coverage for a new track.

You can include details about your current track, mentions of previous music you’ve released, recent press shots, links to your music, social media and website. 

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How to Release a Single for Musicians - Write a Music Press Release

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Once you’ve written it, send it out to music editors, bloggers and magazines to convince them to publish a feature on it either on their site or even in print.

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10. Update your EPK

<br>If you’ve got a music EPK (Electronic Press Kit) it’ll also need an update to include all the relevant information about the single.

Edit your artist bio to include details about the new single or your artistic direction, take & include any photos or new artwork, provide relevant streaming and download links for the new single and update your press kit on your website. 

This all simply makes it easier for journalists and bloggers to write about your single when they come across it. 

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How to Release a Single for Musicians - Update your EPK

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11. Stay consistent & keep the momentum going!

<br>In the period after your single release, just before the popularity dies down is the most lucrative time to bring out another single (back to that Waterfall Strategy we were talking about earlier!).

We highly recommend releasing ANOTHER single while people are still talking about your current one, by simply capitalising on the success and efforts of this single release to fuel the initial success and momentum of the next. 

Seek more press coverage, book gigs at popular venues and keep an eye out for sponsorship opportunities. Be proactive and use this post-release period to your advantage. 

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How to Release a Single for Musicians - Keep Momentum

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You can also find new and creative ways to keep the momentum going of your current single, by posting online videos, images, hints & teases about what’s next, as well as things like backstories or facts about the song. 

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And just like that - you’re all set with the knowledge you need to start dropping releases in 2022 that’ll get noticed! Time to get that release plan drawn up. Hop to it friend! 

Psst, don’t forget - always make GREAT music in the process.

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