How to promote a record: pre-release | Features | MN2S

The first part of our label services series about how to promote a digital release focuses on the run up to release date. Read on to find out about what you need to have in place to ensure a truly successful campaign and some tips on how to promote a record that not everyone knows.

The masters are back, the artwork is approved and a date has been chosen. Building interest and focussing attention towards your release, whilst not ‘over-egging the pudding’ and appearing to spam, is a key aspect of a well-received, successful release.

In today’s world of social connectivity, promotion is a given – but how to choose from all the options? Choices range from a basic DJ mailout, to blog outreach, to print and radio campaigns, through to social media announcements, competitions and even events and in-club giveaways.


The simplest (and least expensive) way to begin is to construct a template message in a free email client and just send to the DJ contacts you’ve established. This can be a great way to get your releases directly to those you want to have it, and a personal connection will help ensure your mail is opened and responded to.

Always make sure you offer a way of listening to the tracks in your mailout before having to download them, as most people will want to sample the goods before they grab anything. SoundCloud can be an easy way to service streaming, downloadable links, but as you can’t stipulate that feedback has to be given before downloading and people can download tracks without logging in, it’s a very limited method. Whatever you do, you need to make it as easy for DJs and press to listen, download and feedback as possible to maximise your chances of getting support.

You may want to opt for a paid-for service, enabling access to names you don’t have on your list yet, and adding some perceived weight to the label. Many busy DJs like being able to access lots of promos within one service / platform, meaning that it may be more likely for your promo to get listened to it if it’s sitting alongside others via one of these services. You can also force people to leave feedback, which can give you useful ammunition for promoting your release and persuading retailers to feature it in their curated sections. Popular paid-for promo services include Inflyte, Fatdrop, Label Worx and DJ Voice.

It’s also crucial to ensure you supply your distributor with DJ and press feedback and support details to send on to retailers. This can help secure valuable front page or highlight coverage. Note that Beatport only accepts such information up to 30 days before release date, so you’ll need to factor that lead time into your promo campaign to ensure you can get enough feedback in time for that deadline.

Online PR

Reaching out with exclusive premieres, preview clips, videos, interviews with your artists or tickets to your release launch party is good way to spark a blogger, journalist or editor’s interest. It’s worthwhile building personal relationships with bespoke content as this will encourage coverage in the future. A well-timed, shrewdly-chosen online premiere can make a huge difference and again, there are companies out there with increased access and experience who can help if you need it.

Print PR

Print publications still hold a lot of sway, in part for the very reason they are different to the electronic sphere. If your release makes it into an issue, it’s there in hard copy forever more, and the limited nature of a magazine or reviews section means competition is intense, with the rewards therefore sweeter. Making use of a professional’s services is usually the best way to achieve a print review, and there are several caveats to be aware of. Timing is crucial – especially with titles with long-leads – so be on top of all aspects of your distribution to make sure there are no delays to your release. PR services are often quite pricey, and it’s always good to ask the company you’re trying to enlist if they honestly feel they can work your release successfully. The best ones will tell you if not.

Radio plugging

As we’re all aware, radio is a very different beast in the 21st century to what it has been in the past, with huge diversification in the digital realm, and shrinking listener numbers to boot. It’s easier than ever to get ‘played on the radio’, but harder than ever for that to make the promotional impact that labels want. Radio plugging can work for more commercial material, and selecting either a regional, national or campaign that combines both may be appropriate. At its best, one or just a few national radio plays can break a track. A radio campaign is another promotional string to a label’s bow that can be very expensive, but when it pays off, it’s well worth it.

Social media

Social media is a vital, complex and evolving part of modern day life, and clearly an essential aspect of music promotion. Done well, it can be the deciding factor in attaining mega-stardom (Justin Bieber is unfortunately a great example of this!) In the same way that to secure coverage on blogs it’s important to pitch interesting and if possible exclusive content, the benefit of maintaining and updating social channels with a considered, co-ordinated strategy building to release day cannot be understated.

From the timing of an announcement, to the channel selected; from creating unique content to engage your audience to growing your fanbase through reposts and retweets, it’s recommended to have a plan in place that breaks down to a weekly or daily basis from campaign launch through to release. As mentioned at the beginning of this piece, it’s easy to either be boring from a content point of view and/or turn off your followers with too many posts. so know your scene and speak as a human, with a sense of humour.


Your distributor should service your release to Shazam as well as to retailers. Check every few days leading up to your release to see if it’s been added to their database yet, and then every few days after you have seen it on there to see if it’s being tagged when DJs are playing the promo in clubs.

Big numbers here could help you gain press coverage or features at retail as well as given you a general indication of how popular the track is leading up to release date. Keep checking after release date too to keep tabs on its progress.


In all of the above, the key is to build the interest and excitement towards the release date, without bursting the metaphorical balloon with too much, too soon. Being aware of who’s doing what on all fronts and enabling information to flow between the different aspects (and team members) of your campaign is key to overall success.

Further reading:

How to promote a record: release week

How to promote a record: post-release

Click to find out more about MN2S label services.

Read more here on how to run a digital record label.

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