How To Release Music In 2024 To Actually Get Fans

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Transcript: When I talk to DIY artists, their managers, and their labels on consults, or see what they’re saying in my Discord, so much of it is they believe in their music, but it’s not gaining momentum. We’re catching on to an audience the way they think it should. We all know that great songs are the best marketing tool, but you need to do more than a great song since there’s so many people competing for attention today that you need to use certain techniques to even cut through the music that’s not even as good as yours. But so many musicians have it accepted that there’s a certain pace and a few techniques that if they follow these simple rules, well, they can be like the other artists that follow them and break, and their music will finally cut through the crap that is presented to audiences each day and find its own audience.

So in this video, I’m going to discuss what my friends and I who work in music marketing, management, and at labels, see that actually breaks artists in 2023, and how you release music so it gets the attention of potential fans, harnesses the power of Spotify and YouTube, as well as human psychology, which will show the people who come across your music that they should pay attention to you. And here’s the best part of this. You can do this all without having to play a single live show. So let’s start breaking down what promoting music looks like to hold people’s attention and get you noticed.

So let’s address some parameters of what gets you heard by new music fans, and then get them to build a real relationship with you instead of being another artist on a playlist, or that they see mentioned on social media once and then don’t ever check out. So despite Spotify paying so poorly, when you look at the average musician’s royalty statement, you’ll see that around 80% of their audio stream royalties come from Spotify. Since despite what Apple’s press tells you, when it comes to where people actually listen to music, Spotify dominates all the other audio streaming services. But YouTube has the most users by far, and is the way so many fans investigate music first, especially young ones.

But while Spotify and YouTube are both top ways people discover music, the place where relationships really are built is YouTube. Since the time spent consuming videos, interviews, playthroughs, vlogs, behind the scenes, and live streams are the ultimate way musicians give an audience the lore that gets fans talking, as well as the consumption time that keeps you on top of fans’ minds so they are reminded to turn on your music when it’s music listening time. As well, Spotify and YouTube are really the only two services that have a multitude of options for marketing that are worth your time. Since the time you put in can result in huge fan growth, but let’s first talk about how you appeal to algorithms, since that’s one of the crucial ways that we get this spread, and so much of recommendations that people listen to for new music is through algorithms.

You’d have to be living under a rock to not know that if you perform well on Spotify and YouTube it presents the greatest chance for you to take advantage of an exploit in the system of appealing to algorithms, which will give you tons of fans for very little effort on your part. Since Spotify will only allow you to submit one song at a time for editorial playlist consideration and they ask that you do it 28 days in advance, releasing a song any more than once a month becomes a fool’s game since Spotify editorial playlists allow you the greatest chance of having an explosion in your fanbase. This is the number one thing you should try to exploit since it offers the most chance of reward for very little effort that you can make.

But there’s a rub, we also have to make YouTube happy, which actually rewards weekly or bi-weekly uploads. So this means when we’re promoting your song, a lot of the content we want to make is for YouTube. The only thing so few people seem to get is that algorithms are not evil computer programs, but instead based on studies of what makes humans pay attention and appealing to them is appealing to humans nature. So let’s talk about human nature and what I like to call attention propensity. Now if you aren’t so into big words, I mean, I know my audience. Propensity means an inclination or natural tendency to behave in a particular way. And with music fans, the propensity is to pay attention to artists that they are reminded of regularly.

To go deeper, potential fans attention is naturally drawn to people who do things regularly and call attention to themselves by doing things that are exciting, different, or what I like to call eventful. This means cool content, different things that people have usually seen, striking images, compelling stories, and of course, great songs. Audiences propensity is to be drawn to things that they see they deem important and that they’re going to need to know about in order to have conversations with those they admire. Now those they admire can mean people they want to be friends with or people they want to be closer to or people they have crushes on or even people they see who do cool things that they wish they were closer to, but may it ever even mean.

There’s all sorts of psychological models that show the way you commit attention is creating curiosity about you by people seeing your name in respected places. The reason they actually investigate who you are and then become a fan of yours is because they feel they need to know who you are in order to deepen their relationships with others they want to bond with who they feel they may develop a stronger relationship with. Now here’s the funny thing, some people find the value they give others is knowing about music before other people and they try to find all these artists before other people do and you can appeal to them too.

And I know you all love real life examples so let’s give the ultimate one I can think of now of how this attention economy works. So let’s talk about an ultimate example of who gets the attention propensity and try to take up as much of the attention supply as possible, Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox. So these two every week or two make sure to do some seriously cringe stuff that they think is cool since let’s always remember one person’s cringe is another’s cool. But what they do is constantly think of how they can get attention to stay in the conversation to remind everyone about them when it’s time to listen to music, give out a brand deal or a film roll. And this serves to fatten up their wallet and surely they learned it by being adjacent to the family who’s dominated this and made a few billionaires out of basically keeping constant attention on them through insufferable news headlines.

Now thankfully as I was finishing the script I did see this couples reign of terror may be over and of course in the most dramatic teenage way possible. But how this applies to you is you can do this with cool events that you find authentic to you. By brainstorming eventful things you can do to get fans talking to their friends about you and spreading the word and stay on top of people’s minds when friends meet up and talk about what they’ve been thinking of and spread the word about you. But let’s go a little deeper on how this applies to you instead of the most brain dead or a former couple in the public light. This side of 90 day fiance. When you do exciting things on a regular basis people feel compelled to pay attention to what you do because they feel it necessary to know about you to bond with other people that they want to be closer with.

So in order to harness this psychology’s power it means doing what I call consistent sustained promotion or CSP which if you haven’t heard me explain it before many musicians suffer from absent periods where they drop off the radar of their fans all the time and go dark for no good reason and it makes fans just think I don’t need to pay attention to this person when there’s all these other people who are going to feed my addiction to music all the time and keep my attention going and give me things to talk about other people with. Consistent distancy depletes your momentum because people forget about you and don’t find you worthy of talking to people about. Which is why I always point to consistent sustained repetition of promoting your music as being the thing that up to writing a great song really really is what helps break artists the most.

And in tangible terms this usually means doing a small thing like telling a story or making a highly striking visual image every other week. This means releasing what fans want most from you, you know music, on a regular sustained basis and creating content around it that keeps the conversation going about it and reminding fans to keep giving their attention to your relationship and going deeper with you. But let me make this real blunt for those of you who are a little too slow for metaphors. It’s the irrefutable law of how music promotion works is that if you’re consistently promoting your music and if you’re doing cool things on a regular basis people will see you as someone to pay attention to. But if you go dark and just write “stream our music bro” or “big things coming” in a caption with a picture of you posted for weeks on end they see you as an annoying clown who’s not really putting the effort in. So why would they want to pay attention to you? Especially when they could be paying attention to all those other artists who are putting out powerful content for a long period.

But if you’re doing the CSP method of promoting your name will be coming up all the time and reminding these people of you. It’s getting recommended in algorithms, you’re telling stories around your music, popping up on social media and people are going to finally click and learn about you. But the key to doing this is you need to do eventful things. Eventful events demand attention since it gets fans talking. And for all of you who wonder why no one is paying attention, doing eventful things that get fans talking eventually gets the press talking and doors opening.

So when I plan this while doing release strategies with artists what I always tell them is they need to ask themselves “Is this the most eventful music video they can make? What are the most compelling stories they can tell?” around their music. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about with stories here it’s probably a good time to watch my playlist on how to tell stories around your music which is linked in the description below. But let’s go deeper. Let’s think about how all of us discover music. Sure a lot of it’s on playlists or on TikTok these days but much of it is being reminded constantly on social media and seeing a name come up over and over and over again. Or seeing that artist on a feature and figuring if you love that artist well you should probably investigate the other artists around them. Or just your friends and other people talking about an artist.

But if you’re not making posts that are deemed eventful by the public that give them something to say you just get muted and won’t actually be taking advantage of attention propensity since when you’re muted you can’t get attention. Take note of that reply guys. But when you’re doing eventful things you stay on people’s minds and they keep turning you on to adjust things when they need to be entertained. They then deepen their relationship with you. But you may be wondering what does this look like in an actual release strategy? Let me cook for one more second and then I’ll get there.

Now let’s think of the other way you discover music. Which is when one person is constantly reminded of you and feels a connection to your eventful story they talk about you to their friends and on social media about the thing you did that was eventful. They tweet and share that story and say something like “Man when Incel Hypebeast said that he was radicalized by a Hulu documentary I felt that.” And when someone who admires that person who’s a fan of Incel Hypebeast they wonder who the hell Incel Hypebeast is. And then they go down the rabbit hole and if your track bangs well they hit play and now you have someone who’s interested in your stories. Since that person wants to build a greater bond with the person who originally tweeted about you and make an emotional connection with them and now they can do it by knowing who Incel Hypebeast is. Friends and admirers try to explore the people they bond with’s interests and this is how you get your music to spread.

But to be deemed eventful you need to be doing things that get people talking continuously not just every once every six months so that they’ll talk about you when they see their friends hence consistent sustained promotion. Which brings us to this chart here and let’s talk about what this means. So when I do these consultation calls so many of you think “Oh in that case I’ll over perform and I’ll release a song every week or two weeks.” And as you can see the opposite of that is the people will take their sweet time and wonder why they never get any momentum when they release music every six months. But let’s get into why since this seems unclear to far too many of you.

On the weekly and bi-weekly side you’re putting out so much content no one takes you seriously. Why bother listening since it seems like you’re just putting out any crap you can pump out which literally anyone could do and that’s not exceptional or eventful. Now I know a ton of you think “I got 25 songs and they’re amazing!” But I cannot get this through all of your skulls enough. The only artists that works for are ones when they have proven to the world they have great material and they meet the demand from fans with giving them what they want. But for now in this world where 40,000ish songs are released a day the last thing we need is all your songs instead of your best ones. It does you no favors because the world wants to hear the best of you not sort through all the crap that you put out.

Music is not like a lottery ticket. I know a lot of you think it is but the fact is you may be too green in this business to realize this but songs at the heart of them are an emotion. Lottery tickets are created all the same. Songs each have a different amount of power which is why we say “a great song is the best marketing tool” and often times when you think songs are a lottery ticket you haven’t figured out how to make that song as powerful an emotion as possible so I implore you to pick your best material and only release that and keep the rest in the woodshed and keep working on them. But there’s another dynamic to releasing songs too often. As you can see here there’s a certain point where you lose the optimal spotify pitch time at 28 days since you can only submit one song at a time and 28 days out is the optimal submission there. So losing out on that opportunity also cripples you.

And I know some of you will say “Jesse what about NBA Youngboy or Russ? That’s how he did it.” Russ was an exception, it’s also very complicated and there’s a lot more to the story than just putting out a lot of music. If you want to learn more about that hit the description since I have a whole video on that but right now I got more important things to deal with. So on the other end of the spectrum is the people who put out a song every 3-6 months. These are often the people who tell me that they can’t make a song faster because they’re making masterpieces and sometimes that even is the case. That they have really complex songs and they need to be aged like a steak from one of those steak houses where lame old people take me on meetings. But if that’s the case you’re not going to gain momentum by releasing a song every 6 months no matter how good the songs are.

But you could bank a bunch of them and save them up and give consistent sustained promotion a try while you release one every 6-8 weeks and try to get momentum. But more often than not these people lose motivation and are just not up for the commitment for making content fast and that’s fine but the fact is in the attention economy if you’re releasing this slow no one finds it exciting. Your word of mouth dies it’s just not going to do you any good. Whereas here in the monthly to bi-monthly releasing songs every 6-8 weeks the magic happens and we should talk about the most determinative part of that. It’s often a lot of work to do CSP and having to make music videos, lyric videos, keep up on socials and the opportunities you get as you get attention can be a lot for people.

In this zone it’s manageable for a lot of people whereas the weekly and bi-weekly people just often skip promoting, they drop songs, they don’t really do much of anything and they make maybe a few stupid social media posts so they don’t even worry about this. And it’s funny since some of the 3-6 month people could handle this pace but they lose motivation and get depressed because nothing ever happens for them and they never really try it out. The reason the 6-8 week pace works so well is most people can handle it and it hones in on humans attention where it feels like it’s special, you’re doing all this cool stuff all the time and it just feels important to them.

So let’s talk about this release strategy and it’s a slight modification for the one I’ve mentioned in the past. It’s on week 1 you release a single screen video, meaning a video that is just the album cover of the song and then for the next 2 weeks you tell stories around that. Which we will get way more into depth in the next video that’s coming out which is my 60 day plan for promoting your song which I’ve made before but I’m doing a huge update to so make sure you’re subscribed and get notifications on. Then on week 3 you put up a lyric video or a visualizer and then for those 2 weeks you continue to tell stories around your song. Then on week 5 you post your music video and then tell stories around it. And depending on how well your song’s reaction is you’ll promote it for 2 more weeks which is the 6 week release plan or possibly on week 7 you put out an alternate version which could be acoustic version, one with strings, you could add an artist to feature on the bridge or a verse, do a remix, whatever. But keep giving the audience content to adjust and discuss and most of all keep the intention propensity towards you engaged.

But what’s great is alternate versions remind people to go deeper with the song whether it’s an alternate version or the main version. In some cases both, the alternate and original do well since they feed off each other. In fact these days we see these sped up and slowed down versions for TikTok blowing up and all 3 versions can have hundreds of millions of plays. The alternate version allows you to tell more stories, demand more attention and get people to think that they really need to pay attention to this song since you devoted so much energy to it. And if you’re seeing that the song is doing way better than all your other songs it’s worth it to devote the energy to it to keep extending its promotion time and extending its life and the attention you can call to yourself. 

But then once you’ve done that cycle and put out all the content, it’s time to repeat again with a new song. And do this consistently for as long as you can sustain it by making great content and great songs and continue to build your fanbase with the momentum you’ve received from appealing to the algorithms and people’s attention spans and keeping people talking about you.

And I should say this, I didn’t go as into talking about stories as I probably should so let’s get into that. The storytelling can often be on Instagram and TikTok and Twitter but really where the money is, is doing it on YouTube. Whether it’s doing playthroughs, vlogs, shorts, behind the scenes. That all makes YouTube’s algorithm more excited about promoting you and keeps fans growing relationships with you.

In a world where so many of you want to be an artist fans engage with more, YouTube offers so many opportunities for that and 3 years into this channel of trying to put that into people’s heads I still don’t see enough of you investing and going hard on YouTube. I have a whole playlist on that in the description if you want to go deeper. But I want you to get this, Instagram stories and grid posts are mostly for people to stay in touch with you as is Twitter.

Even though Twitter is amazing for making new relationships but TikTok and Instagram reels are really where you draw people in to then go to Spotify and YouTube to go deeper with you since they will hopefully become curious about you from the content you made there and then after that once they build a relationship with you spread you to other people who’ve yet to hear you. But you should see Spotify and YouTube as both a place to get discovered and for keeping up relationships with you and by making content for YouTube fans can spend time to them that appeals to its algorithm that needs more material than Spotify.

Now I know some of you are asking how long will you have to do this? And there’s no real answer to this because everyone has a different metric of when they’ve hit their goal of how big their fanbase should be and really no one ever hits that goal because everyone wants all the fans. But to make this abundantly clear the answer is really a year or two you should really see a good amount of progress if your music is connecting with people. I mean releasing a song every 8 weeks for 12-18 months is only 6 songs a year to fill up a calendar and it’ll take 12 songs to cover up the next 2 years which is most people’s LP.

But let’s be clear the consistency really is important and sticking to that 6-8 week schedule really really is crucial. And especially the biggest thing I see with people is they only last about 2 songs with this because they’re not seeing progress. And one of the things you have to remember is I often talk about the pain point. And the pain point is the point where you’re starting to get a little bit of growth but you’re doing all this work and the work feels terrible because you’re not getting rewarded.

But that’s usually the pain point where it hurts the most is right before it starts to go well. And that’s what sucks. And for many artists I see this working for they gain momentum with each song and the bigger gains come from sustaining it for longer periods of time. But before we go I want to talk to you about 2 small aspects of releasing music that really maximizes its success and drives up streams and relationships to your music.

The first is doing the waterfall technique or packaging up your songs on releases. Now a lot of people get confused and think I hate albums but the fact is I don’t and they are a lot of what I consume in music. I do think you should release singles and eventually wrap them up into an album and especially if you’re gaining momentum and fans really like you you should package them up into a physical form at some point and call it an album.

I also think it’s smart to release singles and then wrap that album up later with any of the songs that aren’t worthy of the single treatment and worthy of making all those videos. Some songs are album tracks and you don’t need to give them the single treatment. But an album is a way to package up something neatly when they want more from you and build deeper relationships and lore for fans to talk about and drive up your streams.

But the smartest way to always keep your streams going and relationship building is to do the waterfall technique or package up your songs. And what I mean by this is let’s say you start to release singles but don’t know what the album is going to be called yet or where you’re headed. Each time you release a new single name the album after the single and put the songs you put out before on this release and then you keep deleting that release each time you put it out.

Since each song can only be on one album at a time you delete the album each time and then name it the new single and put the other singles from this collection of songs into that album with the name of your newest single. Every distributor has an FAQ on how to do this at this point or you can hit the description and watch my video on the waterfall technique. But this will make it so when you link your songs on social media if you link the album instead it’ll keep your songs playing and deepen your relationship with fans instead of it starting to play another artist on Spotify radio and this could really help up your streams and your relationships with fans.

But lastly I really endorse doing what I like to call full stack singles. Since we need to be eventful the easiest way to do that and save money at the same time is to do a full stack single which is a term I use from when the merch, the album cover and the video all have common imagery. This way you can sell merch around it, give fans more award to discuss and spread the word about you and drive more attention to you.

It just seems way more eventful when you have everything be synergistic and do this full stack single. I have a video in the description of how bands like Sleep Token and The 1975 have done this to great success but it’s truly the easiest hack to getting more conversation going around you and market you while making some extra money. So if you’ve watched this far I’ve made a video that I mentioned which is my 60 day plan that goes through this step by step and that will be up on the screen now if I put it out again or in the description where you can follow along step by step on what content you should post.

If it’s not out yet well I have a really helpful video on how to increase every songs streams 10 times. Watch that and keep learning.

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