Here’s My Single Release Plan (Steal It)

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Photo credit: Jakayla Toney

We’re all out here trying to get people to listen. And it’s not a competition. Listeners can love more than one artist. “A rising tide lifts all boats.” So I want to share my single release plan and I want you to steal it.

I believe the majority of your music marketing should happen after the song is out. So keep that in mind as you look over this plan. Then modify it to fit your needs/preferences.

Where I Was vs. Where I Am Now

In August 2022, I had maybe a few hundred monthly listeners on Spotify. I had about 400-500 Instagram followers. I wasn’t really making much traction. If I was, it was snail-paced slow.

Then in September 2022, I decided to prioritize making short-form content for TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts. This coincided with my plan to release one song every 4-6 weeks.

Almost immediately after I started posting content, I saw my music gaining traction. Every time I’d post, new people would find me. My streaming numbers started to climb.

Now as I write this, I have about 5,200 monthly listeners on Spotify (although I cracked 8,000 a couple months ago), just over 1,700 Instagram followers, and one of my Reels went mini viral (172k+ views, 18k+ likes, 80+ comments).

I share these stats to show you that what I’m doing seems to be working. So I’m going to share my single release plan in hopes that it helps you.

My Single Release Checklist

Here are all the steps I go through each time I release a song. Feel free to give this a try and modify it to your needs.

1. Create the artwork

My go-to is Canva. Lately I’ve been using a combination of DALL-E and Canva. But there are tons of options for creating cover art.

2. Schedule the release

To get your music on Spotify, Apple Music, etc., you’ll need a digital distributor. I currently use Soundrop, but you should choose the distributor that fits your needs.

3. Register the song with a PRO

A Performance Rights Organization collects royalties generated from the public performances of songs and delivers them to the artist. You need to register every one of your songs with a PRO – BMI (what I use) or ASCAP in the United States, SOCAN in Canada, and PRS in the United Kingdom.

4. Create a video with the cover art

Create a video that’s simply the cover art with the song playing on top of it. Add a fade in and fade out if you’d like. This is good for YouTube, your website, and your social media.

5. Create a Spotify Canvas

Having a Spotify Canvas increases a song’s shares by 145%. So make one for each song.

6. Schedule for release on alternative streaming sites

Next, I upload the song to SoundCloud and Bandcamp, set them as private, then make them public on release day. I also upload the video with the official audio (that I made in step #4) to YouTube and schedule it to go live on release day.

7. Submit to playlists, blogs, and radio stations

When it comes to landing a spot on Spotify playlists and getting blog write-ups, I’ve had the most success through SubmitHub. But there are several other ways to get on playlists.

8. Submit for sync licensing

I have a couple sync licensing companies I submit each new release to. I’ve gotten placements through Crucial Music and Music Vine, but there’s a plethora of other companies. It’s just a matter of finding the ones you like.

9. Send to my email subscribers on release day

My email list is small but loyal. My open rate is about 40% (twice the industry average) and my click rate is about 3% (above industry average). My point is, people still use email as a way to get updates from musicians they like.

10. Register with SoundExchange and a publishing admin company

SoundExchange collects digital performance royalties for “non-interactive” streams, meaning the listener can’t choose the music. Think Pandora, SiriusXM, and Beats 1.

A publishing administration company can collect your performance royalties if you’re not already registered with a PRO. They also collect performance royalties from other countries (even if you are registered with a PRO) as well as mechanical royalties.

These are two of the four places that need to be paying you for your music.

11. Create short-form content

I create short-form content that can be recycled across all the social media platforms.

Here’s what it looks like for me:

  1. I create a TikTok
  2. Use a website like SSSTIK to download the TikTok without a watermark
  3. Repost that video on Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, and YouTube Shorts
  4. Save the watermark-less video on a hard drive so I can repost it in the future (or post it on whatever new platform pops up)


Modify This Single Release Plan As Needed

We all make different music, we each have our own voice, and one approach to music marketing may work for one of us and not for another. Use this single release plan as a template and modify it to fit you.