Project Release Timeline Example
Releasing your project (whether it’s an album or EP) shouldn’t be rushed. You need to allow ample time to solidify press, get physical copies made, get your content ready, plan your release party, plan your tour etc.
There’s no one way to go about this so the following timeline can be adjusted as needed and should be used as an example for inspiration.
This timeline is up to you and should be based on the goals you want to accomplish and how much anticipation you want to build. I suggest setting specific goals and building your release timeline around the time it will take for you to achieve them.
Alright let’s get started shall we!
6 months - 1.5 years before project release: the recording and production phase
Marketing your project begins in the creation stage. In most cases, you won’t want to just pop up out of nowhere with a project. While there have been some artists who were successful with this, we’re going to assume that you’re a budding artist who doesn’t have the fan base that Beyonce does.
Tierra Whack is another artist who seemingly dropped a project out of nowhere and essentially blew up “overnight.” However Tierra spent YEARS building her buzz and then completely re-branded herself and teased us with 1 single per year to the point that we were on the edge of our seats, soaking up any drop of Tierra’s music that we could. So she’s the exception.
Overall, be realistic about your approach and build as much anticipation as you can.
To do this, document your recording process and share behind the scenes pictures and video clips from the studio while recording your project. Feel free to do this using your phone (post stories on Instagram and go live on Instagram, Facebook and even Twitter). If you do have access to a videographer (or you’re savvy with a professional camera), feel free to also film this process professionally and edit it. You can edit clips of the best in-studio moments, videos of you playing the music, and talking about the features and concepts behind each of your songs. You can even create a longer “making of the album” video (that you can post on YouTube right after the project drops).
Overall, document the recording process and show your fans (and potential fans) that you’re cooking up something special.
Note: Your project should be recorded, mixed and mastered before you announce any release dates. Many artists wait until the last minute and announce release dates before they have the final product. However, this can lead to disaster in the form of having to push back release dates (publicly) and not get the press you wanted all while ultimately disappointing your fans and building a negative perception around your project before it even drops. We certainly don’t want that. So have every song finalized before you think about announcing a release date.
4-6 months before project release: strategies, concepts, legalities and goals
This is the brainstorming and planning phase. During this time you should begin strategizing on what your singles will be, what your album cover will look like, what your merch will look like, what your tour route will be, what music videos you’ll want to shoot, what the marketing plan will consist of, what press you’ll be targeting, what your content is going to look like, and if you are going to get physical copies or vinyls made?
This is also the time to make sure all songs are copyrighted and registered with a PRO, samples are cleared and all agreements (with producers and features) are solidified.
You should also set some specific (and realistic) goals that you want to achieve. For instance, do you want to reach 100,000 streams on your new single? Base these goals on your current stats to ensure that you’re climbing gradually. Although you may want a million plus streams and a sold out tour, you’ll need to make sure you’re being realistic for the time being.
This phase is extremely important because it sets the tone for your entire campaign. By planning accordingly, you’re setting yourself up to have success with your release. Solid preparation leads to more impactful execution.
3-4 months before project release: campaign prep
Once your project is finished being recorded and you have mapped out the plan, you can start preparing for the promo campaign for the release. In this phase, you’ll begin gathering all of your assets that you’ll need to have a successful project release:
get your album cover art designed as well as any other promotional graphics/animations that you plan to use to promote the project
edit video content that will be used to keep your fans engaged throughout this process
get posters/stickers printed
write press releases (for singles, videos, and the project itself)
take a new photo shoot or two
set up pre-save/pre-order with your distributor
2-3 Months Before Project Release: Promo Campaign Begins
Once you have all of your promo materials, it’s time to begin your promo campaign. Start letting press know about your project release plans (in hopes to secure interviews for the project), release your first single, launch pre-save/pre-order via your distributor, have a invite-only private listening session and lock in the venue for your album release event.
1 Month Before Project Release: build the anticipation
By this time you should have released a single from your project and started pitching to press with your release dates. Now it’s time to rev up the promo even more and really start getting fans excited about the project.
adjust Facebook cover, YouTube header and Twitter header to a graphic that promotes the new album
put up posters in your area
release second single
announce release date for project (drop cover art or trailer)
announce release party
continue promoting pre-save
hold a contest to encourage fan participation
Week of Project Release: hype up the release
By this time you’ve built up some buzz around your project, you’ve released a few singles and you’ve probably received some press announcing the album. Release week is a very important week. You’ll need to stay as engaged as possible and make sure everyone knows about the release.
send newsletter out about project and to secure RSVPs for release party
send an email out to those who RSVP’d for your release party with some sort of surprise (maybe a free download, or let them know they’ll get a free sticker at the event or something - anything to get them excited about the event). Encourage them to share the flyer and let everyone know about the release.
host a countdown
hype up the release party
release project trailer/promo video
Release Day: The Big Day Is Here!
The big day has come! It’s time to celebrate but before you celebrate you’ll need to make sure that you’re more engaged than you’ve ever been. This means announcing the release early morning on all of your social networks, sending a newsletter to all of your fans announcing the release, boosting your social media posts (ads), responding to all comments and messages, reposting all feedback, and of course, making sure that you put on a killer performance at your release party!
Post Release: Keeping the momentum going
Your project is out so now you can breathe a little but now it’s time to make sure that you’re getting the release to as many people as possible and keeping the momentum going so that your music spreads to those who may not have heard it yet.
release more content surrounding the album (such as more behind the scenes footage, the “making of” videos, videos talking about the concept of the project etc.)
go on tour. Even if it’s 3-5 shows in your surrounding area that you set up (maybe get added to another artists bill?), you should definitely perform some shows around your release
release more singles and drop an official video or two or three. Remember - the main purpose of a music video is to extend the shelf life of the audio
announce special merch bundles that include merch items and/or autographed physical copies to go along with the project release