Musical World Domination on a Spreadsheet

Real subject title: Planning (That’s just not as sexy really is it?)

Scenario: You have just finished a track, it sounds amazing and what you really want to do is play it to as many people as possible. This is something I am all too aware of but I would urge you to stop for a second and think of the bigger picture. If the track is just a one off then fine, send it to the world but if you have bigger plans for an album and steps towards a career as an artist then make a plan.

We are a fickle lot, us fans. Hear something, love it, forget it and move on to the next thing. If you want to make, promote and release an album, you need to plan so that you are forever in the ears and eyes of your adoring public. It may sound extreme but try sketching out 18 months. Every artist is different and things do change but it may look something like this:

Basic Plan for Album Release

Artists all too often put out singles for no apparent reason, with no support and no follow up. In an era of ‘on air – on sale’ release dates are becoming a little more hazy and moveable. The buzz phrase of the moment is ‘impact point’. Imagine a meteor, gracefully gliding in space, subtly entering the atmosphere, picking up some heat and light, getting ever hotter and more noticeable until this great, mass of unmissable, burning rock (that’s you) impacts the earth with such force and velocity that it wipes out the dinosaurs. Ok the metaphor is a little extended, but you get the point. Build from nothing into something that can be noticed and aim for an impact point.

With your first single you can introduce yourself to the blogs, press and radio and subsequently your potential fans. Play a small gig and make it a great night for everybody coming. This is an important moment to set the tone and start building your fanbase.

Digital downloads and streaming

New Spotify app from Domino

Single two can be a follow up with an announcement of impending album. Too many times have I read in a press release ‘artist x will be releasing and album next month’ and then this doesn’t happen. This is usually because they haven’t finished it let alone planned any sort of strategy. If you do this you’ll lose your audience because not to put to fine a point on it, you’re full of shit. Hopefully the fans you have gained from your first single and now this one will enable you to throw a bigger launch party.

Album release. This is the impact point and everything should be geared towards landing this sucker with maximum, well, impact. Two singles in, sold out shows, some great reviews, radio play and a growing fanbase. You are hot property and people will actually want to come to your album launch. In fact you’ll have to turn them away at the door. There is probably no difference between the artist you were at single 1 and now but the perception of you will hopefully have changed dramatically to those looking in. For starters they’ll know who you are.

Alice Gun Launch March 2011

photo by Ruth Ward

There’s much more I could say here but some things to consider are the lead time that press need for articles and reviews. Radio is the same. As a bench mark plan 8 weeks for radio, 2 months for short lead press, at least 3 months for long lead press. Blogs seem to be much more immediate. And remember all the bloggers, radio producers, DJs and journalists are real people so try and put yourself in their shoes and be as helpful as possible. (check out Tom’s post on sending music to radio)

And importantly because you’ve planned and already got all your music, artwork, social media branding and assets together you can concentrate on the people that matter – your audience.

If you want to read more of this sort of thing check out my other articles here

Next time: How To Get Paid Part 1 – Royalty Collecting Societies


I am a player, producer, label boss and staunch supporter of the independent community. In the interests of transparency, should I post any of my own material, my labels are Ambiguous Records and CRC Music. I am also on the board of AIM which is the trade body that looks after all the UK Independent labels. Read More...


  1. Another great article Al! Just at the right time too as we start to plan the details of our ‘almost recorded’ first album! Look forward to the next one!

  2. Al

    Thanks Steve, lots more to come yet. The next few posts will be on how to get paid.
    If you have any suggestions for things you think I should write about please do leave a comment here and I’ll add it to my list.

  3. This works very well if you already have a label waiting to put our your album, but many artists don’t when they release their first single. Without a label behind you it can be very difficult to put together all the promo material you need in order to promote yourself, but without doing that promotion it’s difficult to get the attention of labels.

  4. Al

    Hi Gaptooth,

    I have to disagree entirely.

    The whole point of my post is to empower YOU, the artist, to do it yourself. Difficult yes, but not impossible.

    I guess it depends how hungry an artist is because it is those artists that put in the hours, importantly not just in writing but in admin and planning, that tend to be the ones that break through with or without a label.
    It is the combination of great music and MASSIVE amounts of hard work that lead to success.

  5. Sounds like good advice to me…may be following it closely ,we are going in recording next week ..

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