Choosing the single release strategy that’s right for your song -10 ways to release a single

Thought this was a great article by Chris Robley I received today – gets back to the “being strategic in what you do using the options available – to your advantage and marketing need”. Hope it’s of interest and remember we can help with advice in this area if needed.  So, over to Chris…….


There’s a lot more to releasing a single than just throwing it up on SoundCloud or Bandcamp. And I’m not talking about distribution — though, ya know, you should totally get your latest single onto Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon etc as fits.

Global music distribution is important, but what I’m talking about here is the strategy behind the release of your single:
How are you going to attract listeners and encourage downloads? How is the launch of this single going to enhance your relationship with your audience? How will this song help you get to the next level in your music career?

As a music marketing tool, you can do a lot of different things with a single, and there are a number of strategies you can employ for its release.
Here’s a list of options (and thanks to Jon Ostrow, from whom I borrowed some of these ideas) — and remember, you can combine some of these strategies for the same single:

  1. Release the video single

With this approach, you would premiere your song on YouTube, perhaps first as an album art track and then followed up later with an official music video (and then even later with live videos or lyric videos), and use YouTube cards to drive engagement. Be sure to link your fans via cards, annotations, or in the video description to a place where they can purchase the download.

Video, of course, is one of the most sharable forms of online content, so if both the song and video are great, releasing the music this way can be a smart move — especially if you manage to get a notable blog to premiere the video for you (meaning you give them a limited-time exclusive to debut the video on their site).

Be sure to upload the video directly to Facebook too (once the exclusive blog premiere is over), since Facebook favours video that is native to the platform when determining what to display in users’ feeds.

  1. Release the radio single

Effective radio promotion can be pretty expensive, but if the song is right and the promoter has a record of success, it might be worth the cost. When you release a radio single (think “hit song” usually between 2.5 — 4 minutes long), the idea is to create sustained exposure to the song over a short period of time. That’s what it takes to get a critical mass of people to take notice — repeated listens (even if it’s a great song).

Don’t have the budget for a radio promoter?, you can still make a dent going the DIY route and there is a range of information and people who can help here,.

  1. Release a deep cut

Radio singles are great for catching new ears, but every once in a while you need to reward your existing fans too — the folks who love you for everything you do (not just the moments with the sharpest hooks). So feel free to release what Jon Ostrow calls a “street single,” a longer or more demanding song that offers up the goods for those who pay closer attention.

  1. Release your single as the instant-gratification track on iTunes

Did you know you can run an iTunes pre-sale for a month before your album comes out? One of the features of the pre-sale on iTunes is that they allow customers to download one track right away (and then they get the full album download on the day of release). So think about what song will be most enticing. The radio single? The street single? Something else?

  1. Release a bonus track with your full album

Whether you offer bonus tracks to download customers or exclusively on CD and vinyl, this gives you a great chance to feature some extra content and drive up sales. Live track? Alternate mix? Demo? An unreleased track? Acoustic version of a favourite song from your previous album? The bonus track will appeal to fans who want to collect the whole catalogue.

  1. Release a new song on a compilation

If the song only comes out on a compilation I suppose it’s not technically a single — BUT it might be a smart way to put a new track to work for you. You’ll benefit from the song being featured alongside tunes by a bunch of other artists, and you can always use it again later on your own album.

  1. Release a FREE single

Okay, you’ve really got options here, including:
* using the single as an incentive to join your mailing list
* handing out download cards of the new single to anyone who attends your single release party
* granting a blog the premiere on your new song — and let readers of that blog download the song for free

  1. “Leak” the single

This one has its ethical issues, but as Jon Ostrow says in an article
If artists are planning on ‘leaking’ a track, time and attention needs to be paid so that it not only seems the track was actually accidentally leaked and not just released, but also so that the music gets into the right hands of influential bloggers and super fans who’s announcement of the leaked track will help is spread. But be careful, if it comes out that you were behind the leak, the inauthentic nature could leave a sour taste in the mouths of fans.

  1. Release a remix

Remixes let you breathe new life into a song whose energy might be waning, collaborate with artists who might work in another genre, and benefit from all the cross-promotion that ensues.

  1. Release a series of singles to build an album

One practice that’s become more common is for an artist to set a release schedule, for instance: putting out one new song a month for a year, and then letting fans vote on which ten tunes will comprise the next album. This is a great strategy for staying motivated, stirring fan anticipation, and giving yourself multiple chances to connect with a new audience throughout the year.


So what did you think? Of interest? Learn something new?

Areas there you need to know more about?

Remember we offer an advisory and mentoring service as part of our business offerings (and this service can be with anyone using Skype (or Facetime), email etc). Check out and contact us if we can be of help.

Cheers till next time



IF YOU WANT TO BE FULL TIME and make a reasonable income in this industry _ YOU CAN …… BUT BE FULL TIME as you should —-PART 1

OK so this article series came out of a number of recent discussions, requests to analyse and investigate the time commitment people who said they were full time where putting in and where there was possible shortcomings.

Let me pre-empt this by saying-

  • How you work in this industry is totally subjective and personal –if you want it as a hobby, part time or full time and be relaxed … that’s all fine
  • But if you want to run it as a business that is growing and sustainable – some things like effort, doing the hard yards and background work etc (or paying for it) – are necessary ….
  • Like sales – these could be considered as ‘generalised figures’ …. because everyone’s figures and situation/opportunities/restrictions are different — -so whether you do better or worse will require adaption of the numbers and avenues accordingly

So this is a general discussion for those who are independent operators in the industry and with a desire to make it full time/be full time and sustainable and say they can’t. And if you are one of those then it provides some very generalised positioning and thoughts for you to consider.

First, if you are a performer, artist, production etc person in this industry and ‘Full time’ STOP and consider – – you are not an employee!!!
So don’t even think that you are entitled to work a 35 hrs a week, 48 weeks a year (well that part may be) like a paid employee…….

You should be thinking of 50-60 hours a week like most self employed people, do in most industries that make a good living.

Second and following on, it’s probably not 9-5 or ‘regular’ like most ‘workers’. In fact it’s a standard statement in business ‘you don’t earn more than $60-80k pa watching the clock’ (well you can but you get the idea).

So for the point of the article/exercise – I am going to work on – that if single/unattached or flexible –  earning $50-60,000 a year from you music would provide a reasonable base to be full time and place to grow from.

How we going so far? Which positioning describes you? Let’s presume you agree and comfortable with that …let’s look at some areas of the industry and what it might take


For this part of the article series I will concentrate on 2 areas.

First, the Performing Musician/Singer


Consider yourself like a shift worker – your hours are whatever needed to get the gigs and make you the money.

  • If you were gigging Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights…that is 3*$250-300 = $750-1000 per week.
  • If only getting $150-200 per set (eg multi artist venues)…get smart and do 2 a night- negotiating one venue to be their first act and the next their last, and book them in ‘locality groupings’ to allow for the travel and set up. – – – – or look at Saturday or Sunday arvo possibilities, lunchtime or other midweek options, house/barn concerts, busking or whatever ……because 5*150 still gets you a base $750 per week. [Or.3*200 150 for the main nights + 2*150 for the arvo’s = $900 etc].

And please, presuming you are reasonable musically and as an entertainer- don’t come back to me and say you can’t get 3-5 gigs a week in your local area unless in a very remote area. Yes, there are a couple of genres where there is hassle getting this level of weekly gigs – but in general, I don’t know any main population region in Australia that doesn’t support the opportunity to do this in one way or another – within a reasonable radius.

Sure you might have to travel around a bit, but so do regional sales reps/distributors and other people who need to be getting regular work/deals from businesses/venues. – and there are strategies how to approach this and set up this flow as a regular. Even a couple of hours each way is reasonable if the fee pays for the travel cost….it is all about the net $$ in the end.

On top of that – there is always busking where some people are making up to $500 a session or more on a regular basis (and we have a couple of friends in capital cities pulling in $1500-2000 a week just from their busking, plus gigs etc)

And then of course there are also some specific opportunities based on genres – For example, if you are a classical/jazz pianist or pianist singer or guitarist/singer you might be able to pick up a residency at a major hotel, piano bar etc – which would be paying more but could require more work on repertoire etc. Or a classical musician you may look at regular work in an orchestra, especially those working the sound stages/games area or TV program band etc


CD Sales …mostly a function of gigging or very hard and constant marketing.
As I have said before  – 99% of artists sell 98% of their product at or as a result of gigs when the emotion is high and people ‘want to buy you.

So let’s say we have a CD with a sale price of $20 sale price – production costs say $7 (for first run inc. recording costs..etc – will be less next run onwards) $13 net.
[If sell via store they will take 50%   $10-7 .so $3 net to you…so I am just looking at just direct sales until 2nd run onwards].
Let’s say you average 5 CD sales per gig. (average as bigger venues possibly more, etc) & 5 gigs a week as above..

That’s another $325 per week – that’s another $15,000 plus a year

So just with those two avenues – we have close to our base parameter need to maintain a full time career.

Then there are digital sales, other merchandising, online shows, monetisation, YouTubers – tours, festivals – – and I haven’t bothered talking corporate/event gigs as that adds another higher layer of opportunities.

Session Musicians

If you are looking to get into session work (let’s talk studio rather than live) then you need to be

  • Very good at your instrument (both the playing of, tuning etc etc)
  • Be able to read music – preferably sight read or play from notation pretty quickly
  • Preferably able to improvise as well as read music
  • Be really understanding of the nuances of your genre(s) – but be real!!! For example, if you don’t know the nuances a jazz drummer plays for example. don’t say you can do jazz etc
  • Be able to get ‘the take’ in a couple of goes

If you are able to record in your own situation/location – even better! With a good online, upload facility (dropbox etc) – you open up a lot more doors and opportunities to do this work as ‘remote session provider.

This also allows you to do your session work ‘after hours’ in addition to other commitments etc’

Make sure

  • You can get really good clean takes at the resolution needed by the producer etc booking you
  • You don’t need the same DAW as they have but you need to be able to capture, edit and provide them with the format and resolution, file type they request (so know your software)
  • Deliver ‘dry’ – this doesn’t mean you don’t have the right ‘tone’, feel etc but don’t effect the recording unless requested as you don’t know what else it sits with/how being positioned
  • Be timely and deliver on time
  • There are other considerations but they are more individual (terms etc)

A remote session musician can get between $100 and $220 per song.

Just so you know   – $220 gets me one of the top string/guitarists and all tracks needed for a song (eg doubled violins, violas, cellos for strings – chug, rhythm, lead acoustic for guitarist – all appropriate sounding and all really well recorded)

A session musician in a studio -as a guide (and there are a number of parameters on this such as providing own gear, etc etc) – would probably expect to invoice at an hourly rate or day rate. The level will depend on experience, name etc etc – but $60 – $180 per hour would probably cover the range (or even $200/250 to 5-600+ a day)

So you can see that a good session musician – well promoted around a number of studios to pick up as many opportunities as possible – could be in the position of spending a couple of days in studios per week – or 1-2 projects of multiple songs on the go remotely.

You only need to be engaged to do somewhere between 6-10 songs a week remotely, or 2 days (or a few nights) in the studio to be again in our ball park range of revenue.


In the next part of this article series we will look at other areas of the industry – starting with songwriters (doing it for others and to order) and getting in to some of the production areas, might take a bit of a left field look at the area of music tutoring (as a business) as well further on (not sure).

If you would like us to consider an area of the industry (no guarantees) – must be for those in self employed areas (not doing corporates, employee etc) – – drop me a note and I’ll see what I can find out.

Look forward to any comments, feedback etc

Cheers till next time.