Business News

Tips: Timeline for promoting a UK single release

By | Published on Tuesday 23 April 2013


In our latest guest tips piece, Radar Music Videos’ Caroline Bottomley runs through a timeline for promoting an independent single release.

Setting a marketing budget of £5000 to launch her imaginary band, Caroline spoke to various industry professionals to work out the best time to start each stage of the project, and sets out the basis of a fourteen week campaign, with to-do lists for each stage, plus advice on who a band should be looking to hire, and what kind of costs that would involve…

A lot of promo people we talk to say artists and managers often don’t know what labels do to promote single releases. So we asked for help from some real professionals. Then we made up an indie band with an established following and a few previous releases. We made up £5,000 to spend. And then we wrote this rough guide. Key tasks, the people bands should look to hire to complete some of that work, and the costs that might involve. With some very useful tips as we go…

• Commission single artwork, even if it’s for download only. Designer £300
• Commission artist photos. Photographer £500

TIP: “Commission nice/weird/cool COLOUR band photos, the brighter the better” David Laurie, SiC Records

• Start social media engagement. Digital Promotions £500 – £1,000

NOTE: Social media work continues from here up to and after release date.

• Engage PR £500 – £1,500
• Release advance copies/links to share to monthly press, for review, eg Q, Mojo, Clash, Uncut. Start with sending out a simple press release announcing the single and put the single into context, eg from an album or a stand-alone track? Will there be associated shows? [PR]

TIP: “There are very few print outlets for singles, a couple of dozen really. It’s ALL about online for singles” – David Laurie, SiC Records

NOTE: Press work continues from this point up to and after release date

TIP: “The press release needs to be straightforward and attention-grabbing “artist releases great new song/album” just isn’t enough. What’s your story? What’s special about you/the song/album and why?” – Gillian, Million PR and Naked Press.

• Engage Agent 10% of gross
• Engage Radio & Video Plugger £500-£1,500

NOTE: “I would separate Radio & TV costs. Radio Promotions £1000-2000 and TV Plugger £500-1000 per release. They might be able to get it for less, but this is much more realistic of the going rates” – Prudence, Rocket PR

• Commission the official music video, the aim is to create a stand-out, remarkable video. Producer/director £2,000

TIP: “The video must be one that compels you to hit SHARE at the end, that is the idea. Not the new Bammers video but the video where the guy turns into a monkey and eats the aeroplane” – David Laurie, SiC Records

TIP: “Commission the video now so it can be ready to service at least six weeks before release” – Prudence, Rocket PR

TIP: “All video people take longer than they say to deliver, so I give at least two weeks ahead of my deadline as the actual deadline” – David Laurie, SiC Records

• Create a lyric or packshot video, the point is have this video on the band’s YouTube channel when radio play begins ahead of release date, capturing early views and interest. Producer/director or Digital Promotions £0 – £200

• Track/remix completed.
• Book banner/Facebook/Google advertising. Digital Promotions £500
• Advance copies/links to share released to weekly and daily press, for review [PR]
• Release show/s booked [Agent]
• Radio promotion begins. Single and album promos are presented to radio producers and presenters with a press release and list of forthcoming live dates [Plugger]
• Build up support through plays on individual radio shows, working towards playlist consideration. [Plugger]
• Social media begins to focus on the release campaign. [Digital Promotions]
• Digital store promotions set up. [Digital Promotions]

TIP: “Almost none of them (radio producers and presenters) listen to albums or anything after the first track on a single promo unless there is some headspinning remix” – David Laurie, SiC Records

• Service video to TV for playlist rotation consideration. [Plugger]
• Radio playlist consideration. [Plugger]
• Digital store promotions set up once you have provable ammo from press. [Digital Promotions]
• SoundCloud stream premiere on a top site followed a day or two later with a blast out to other sites for more embedding, start adding up those numbers to convince radio you are popular. [PR]

• Secure a video exclusive with a popular music site and general coverage in music media. [PR]

TIP: “Securing exclusives is PAINFUL and you have to (more or less) only ask one at a time – Pitchfork; Fader; Guardian; Stereogum in that order. Each one takes at least 24 hrs to get back even if you have a shit hot PR. so running through those top four will take a week and likely they will all pass” – David Laurie, SiC Records

• Fan special offers; exclusive tracks, early order discounting etc Digital Promotions

• Digital store promotion. [Digital Promotions]
• Music media coverage. [PR]
• Paid advertising live. [Digital Promotions]
• TV rotation. [Plugger]
• Radio sessions and interviews. [Plugger]
• Release show. [Agent]

• Follow up press campaign to generate further press coverage. [PR]
• Album and tour news to be associated throughout if appropriate.

NOTE: “It might be an idea to mention that there will be VAT on top of all costs as this seems to come as a surprise to many unsigned acts as they are most likely not VAT registered themselves [and therefore can’t claim the VAT back]” Prudence, Rocket PR

This rough guide has been complied with the help of David Laurie, Something in Construction Records (SiC); Gillian, Million PR, Naked Press*; David Riley Good Lizard Media*; Prudence, Rocket PR and Caroline Bottomley, Radar Music Videos.

*Willing to advise new artists and labels about promotion strategies.

It’s possible to do just about all these things for free. You do it yourself, get friends to do it, pull in favours. The reason these services are worth paying for is good professionals will do a much quicker and more effective job.

More to the point, people will actually listen to stuff from reputable PRs; press and pluggers are personally connected to press and playlisters; promotions people know which advertising is cost-effective; experienced directors make attractive music videos that get featured on blogs. All that should result in more sales of your single and more tickets sold to your gigs.

Radar Music Videos is a global network connecting record labels and artists to professional music video directors.