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How To Release Music as an Independent Artist in 2024 | Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide

Updated: Jan 3


How to release music as an independent artist in 2023 featuring keys such as a release date, music video, and digital album artwork

For musicians looking to break into the music industry, releasing your own music as an independent artist can be both a thrilling and challenging process.


It takes creativity, ambition and determination to create quality music that stands out in today’s crowded market — but it might seem like an intimidating task if you are unsure of how to go about it.


However, to help artists understand what steps to take when releasing new music, we have compiled an up-to-date wealth of information in order to take your results from zero to hero.


In this article, you’ll learn everything from the basics of releasing music, to developing strategies for promoting yourself online — plus insider insight on how to tour, make money in new ways, and prepare for the future of the music industry!


Buckle in, and lets go through our detailed, surefire, step-by-step tutorial on how to release music as an independent artist in 2024.

 

Table of Contents:

 

Step 1: Create the Best Possible Music

First of all, when self releasing music sounds, create the best possible music

Of course, before you begin your journey as an artist, in order to create the best possible music you must take some time to hone your craft and develop your own unique sound.


To this end, it's important to understand your individual style and the scope of music that inspires you. Review and study different genres that you enjoy, then practice honing in on what resonates with both yourself and your audience.


It's also critical to connect with other musicians in order to build relationships and receive constructive critiques which will support you in developing as an artist. With all these elements combined, creating the best possible music can become enjoyable as well as rewarding.


A good tip is to don't be afraid to be adventurous; explore instruments and techniques you may not have considered before, as this can help take your music to places it has never gone before.


To learn more, click here.


When can I move on to focus on the next step?

Once you are (1) able to create high quality music and (2) believe you can stand out from the crowd, advance to step two.


Step 2: Releasing music on streaming platforms

Releasing music on streaming services takes uploading the self release properly, alongside planning a release date when the music drops

The way to properly answer how to release music as an independent artist begins with choosing a digital distributor. At iSpyTunes, we recommend DistroKid, as the services only requires one annual payment to get your music heard on all the major streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.


It is perfect for the beginner, as in just a few simple steps, you can start uploading tracks, and getting paid in no time at all.


What Does DistroKid Do?

DistroKid is an online music distribution platform that allows independent musicians to manage their music across major streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and more. It also allows musicians who release music to retain 100% of their royalties.


How Does It Work?

DistroKid makes it easy for independent artists to release music. Once your account is set up, you can start uploading songs or albums for distribution by selecting which streaming platforms you want them available on.


Then just wait for confirmation that your song has been accepted by each platform! Yup, that’s it, you’re now ready to appear on streaming platforms!



When can I move on to focus on the next step?

After you have signed up for DistroKid, or one of the other distribution companies—such as TuneCore and CD Baby.


Step 3: Get Your Music Heard with a Marketing Strategy

get your music video and music heard with marketing

Now that you can release music, you need to determine the best way to attract listeners. Seeing how competitive the industry has become, paired with the constantly decreasing attention span of individuals everywhere, a strong marketing strategy is vital for all independent artists.


Here are a list of nine key music marketing techniques to get you started.


1. Use social media

Social media should be a staple of your marketing strategy, since it is a free way to reach a large number of people. Make sure to create profiles on not only TikTok and Instagram, but use all of the major social media platforms and post regularly.


2. Create a website

A website is a great way to promote your new music and give people more information about you and your work. Be sure to include a section for people to listen to your music and make it easy for them to purchase your albums or singles.


3. Playlisting

Playlist placement is the new radio play, and it is a more level playing field for all. By carefully curating music into specific playlists tailored for certain audiences and demographics, musicians can tap into larger audiences that may not have otherwise been exposed to their music.


Additionally, for artists trying to build a following, already established playlists offer visibility and notoriety amongst other industry professionals.


4. Send out press releases

Sending out press releases is a great way to get the word out about your new music. Be sure to send them to local newspapers, magazines, and online publications that cover music. You can also submit them to online press release services.


5. Social Media Advertising

We already touched on building an organic social media presence, but paid advertising can also be extremely effective. More specifically Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram tend to have the best results. Plus, there are numerous benefits when developing a music landing page for a paid social media campaign has a huge effect on positively influencing your song in the Spotify algorithm.


If you need help here, this is our bread and butter, so just tap us in!


6. Perform live

Another great way to promote your new music is by performing live. Book shows at local venues and restaurants, and after gaining experience, reach out to try and get booked on larger shows and festivals. Also, be sure to promote your performances heavily so that people will come out and see you play.


7. Give interviews

Accepting interviews is a great way to generate buzz for your new music. You can do interviews with local newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and websites. Feel free to start small with a college paper, then use that experience to help build your case for larger publications and media outlets.


8. Hire a publicist or music manager

A music manager or publicist can help take away a lot of stress and responsibilities from an independent musician. Learn more about the benefit of a music manager by clicking here.


9. Don't Forget Offline Strategies

While digital marketing plays an important role in promoting your music, don’t forget about offline music marketing strategies!


To see our full list of ideas for an independent artist looking to promote their music online, check out our full article by clicking here.


As you play around with your own marketing efforts, you will notice there are always more things that come into effect, such as the best time to release your music and how best to brand yourself as an artist & your music.


In truth, Marketing is a complicated beast. So we don't blame you if you feel overwhelmed after reading this step. Therefore, if you just want to offload this step, you always could outsource the work to a reliable music marketing agency. Click here to see our highest ranked music marketing companies for 2024.


When can I move on to focus on the next step?

Once you are confident in your skills (or the skills of a music marketing agency) to draw attention and hype to upcoming music being released.


Step 4: Less Boring... More Touring!

Planning a release date with digital distribution is one thing, touring for at least a month is a bit more fun!

Let's be honest, touring is a privilege and a milestone for many artists. To even be concerned with planning a tour, you must have successfully navigated the first steps of releasing quality music, and growing an audience.


Now, let's discuss eight keys for organizing a successful tour.


1. Plan Your Route

The first step to touring as an independent artist is to plan your route. You'll need to map out where you're going to play each night, as well as figure out how you're going to get from one location to the next. If you're planning on touring by car, be sure to map out your route in advance and make sure you have enough gas money to get from one location to the next.


2. Book Your Gigs

Once you've planned your route, the next step is to book your gigs. If you're playing at smaller venues, you may be able to book your own gigs. However, if you're playing at larger venues, you'll likely need to work with a booking agent. Be sure to book your gigs well in advance so that you have time to promote them properly.


3. Promote Your Gigs

Promoting your gigs is essential if you want people to actually show up and see you play. There are a number of ways to promote your gigs, including social media, flyers, and word-of-mouth. Be sure to start promoting your gigs a few weeks in advance so that people have time to put them on their calendars.


4. Pack Your Gear

Once you've booked your gigs and promoted them properly, it's time to start packing for your tour. You'll need to pack all of your musical gear, as well as any other essentials like clothes and toiletries. Be sure to pack light so that you don't have any trouble getting from one gig to the next.


5. Load In and Set Up

When you arrive at each gig, the first thing you'll need to do is load in and set up your gear. This can take a bit of time, so be sure to allow yourself enough time before your set starts. Once everything is set up, take a few minutes to relax and focus on your performance.


6. Play Your Set

It's finally time for the main event: playing your set! Be sure to give it everything you've got and put on an amazing show for your fans. Remember that even though you're an independent artist, people are still paying money to see you perform, so make it worth their while!


7. Load Out and Break Down

Once your set is over, it's time to load out and break down your gear. This can sometimes be even more time-consuming than loading in, and it's certainly not as fun.


8. Repeat!

As Borat would say, great success!! Now, all you need to do is simply rinse and repeat the process! Touring can be certainly exhausting, but it's also an incredible experience that will help you connect with new fans and grow as an artist and a person!


Note: Touring isn't for everyone. If you'd rather look for other ways to profit off of your time and art, read on to step 5!


Step 5: Making Money as a Musician

how to make money as a musician even when you are releasing music as an independent artist

It's true that earning money as indie artists is no easy task.


We are always looking for new opportunities for our musicians to cash in on their hard work. Seeing that streaming service payouts are quite low, you can't rely on Spotify and Apple Music to pay the bills.


So not including streaming service royalties (or live performances), here are a few suggestions that you should at least be aware of as an independent artist.


1. Merchandise Sales

Selling t-shirts, hoodies, hats, stickers, etc., is a great way to bring in some extra cash while promoting your music at the same time. Plus, it's fun! You get to design and create products that reflect your brand or aesthetic and give fans something special they won't find anywhere else.


2. Online Courses

If you're looking for a passive income strategy, then creating online courses might be right up your alley! You can create tutorials on how to write songs or record music or even teach others about the business side of being an independent artist – whatever resonates with you!


3. Sponsored Content

Another way for independent musicians to make money is by partnering with brands to create sponsored content. This could include creating a music video for a brand, writing a song for a commercial, or even promoting a product through social media. Brands are always looking for ways to reach new audiences, and by aligning with you and your music, they can tap into your fanbase.


4. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Patreon allow independent musicians to raise money from fans to support their music projects. This can be a great way to finance your next album, music video, or tour. With crowdfunding, fans can also feel like they're part of the process and have a direct impact on your music career.


5. Sync Licensing

Synchronization licensing is the process of allowing your music to be used in film, television, video games, and other media. This can be a great way to earn money as an independent musician, as the fees for sync licensing can be quite high.


As an independent musician, you can try to place your music on Music Licensing Platforms, such as iSpyTunes (*hint hint wink wink*) which can be another way to get your music licensed. To learn more about our sync licensing assistance for indie artists, click here. {coming soon}


6. Music Lessons

If you're a skilled musician, you can consider offering music lessons to others. Whether you're teaching guitar, piano, singing, or any other instrument, you can earn money by sharing your skills and knowledge with others. This can be a great way to make money while also building your reputation as a musician.


7. Music Production

Lastly, another way for independent musicians to make money is by producing music for other artists. If you're proficient in music production and recording, you can offer your services to other musicians, bands, and singers. This can include everything from recording, mixing and mastering to creating beats, soundscapes, and instrumentals. Not only does it generates an additional income, also it allows you to work with other artists and creatives to expand your network.


Note: Remember, although it is important to think in terms of monetization strategies, don't forget to balance this line of thought with the highest priority, the quality and authenticity of your music.


Choose a few ideas... Create Multiple Revenue Streams!

It's important to remember that likely, no one strategy is going to generate enough income for you on its own. Therefore, it's best practice to diversify and create multiple revenue streams simultaneously in order maximize earnings potential.


Once again – don't worry!


We know this process can seem daunting but just start small by focusing on one stream at a time until you feel comfortable enough branching out into new areas.


With consistent effort and dedication, anything is possible!


Step 6: Signing to a Record Label

how to release music as an independent artist so as to get signed to a record label

Similar to step four, this is another optional step. Record labels are often a lofty goal for musicians when starting out, but don't always remain a top priority. Other times, musicians consider record labels their end goal.


Put simply, signing to one of the well known record labels is complicated. It takes time, effort, and dedication to make a professional impression on any record labels you are trying to sign with.


However, here are three things to prioritize if you want to go the way of the label.

  • Stay organized

    • Being organized is key; have a catchy portfolio in hand that’s filled with all of your greatest works of art. We recommend an EPK, or an electronic press kit. Creating an EPK is a great way to provide links to music, music videos, social medias, touring highlights, and any other relevant elements. To learn more about how to make EPK, and why they are so valuable, click here.

  • Prepare for anything

    • Prepare yourself for anything you may need on the spot, and also rehearse what you plan on saying during the big meeting. That way, when the time comes, you can confidently deliver your message with compliments of kind delivery and witty humor. Be ready for the moment.

  • Always network

    • Granted, you never know which song may break you as an artist, and you also never know when you'll meet the person that could change your entire career timeline. Don’t forget the power of networking— network with industry professionals, people within your local music scene, and industry influencers. Put yourself out there; it’s the artist that is both consistent and determined for attention that will receive what they desire.


If you want to learn our full insight into how to get a deal from an established record label, click here.


Or, if you want to start your own label, it is easier then ever nowadays! To learn more, click here.


Lastly, if you'd like to join our small indie record label, contact us today!


Step 7: The Future of the Music Industry

Stay it the know with the future of digital distributors, your favorite record labels, you favorite music blogs, plus the recording studio and the overall music making process

The future of the music industry is a subject that has been up in the air for decades now. For example...

  • Will streaming continue to dominate, or will we see something entirely new?

  • Will the days of albums and physical media return?

  • What changes might technology indicate is next up?

The possibilities are almost endless, which is why it's so exciting!


The Benefits of Knowing Upcoming Trends

Understanding the future of the music industry allows you to stay one step ahead of your competition. Being able to anticipate changes in technology and consumer behavior can help you make more informed decisions about how to market your own release, reach new fans, and create new opportunities for yourself.


It also helps you stay ahead of any potential legal or financial issues that could arise as a result of changing regulations or laws in the industry.


Finally, being able to spot trends early on in their life cycle gives you an edge over other musicians who are still trying to catch up with them.


How You Can Stay Informed About Upcoming Trends

First of all, reading music blogs (like ours :) is a great way to stay up to date with industry news and trends.


Shameless plug, but we pride ourselves on staying on top of everything an independent artist needs to know, and then simplifying it as best as possible.


For that reason, we recommend you create an account (it's free!) on our website and stay up-to-date with our weekly blog posts dedicated to helping musicians.


Of course, other big brands like Billboard, Variety, and Rolling Stone are all reliable sources as well. Check out our full list of the best music blogs, which cover various topics from coverage of news and music releases, to submission sites specifically focused on getting indie music featured. To see the full list, click here.


Other ways to follow upcoming Trends

Blogs are a great way to gain information as an indie artist, but what if you don't like to read?


Well, another great option is to attend in-person conferences and seminars, which can help you gain valuable insight into what’s happening in the world of music today.


As mentioned prior, networking with other independent musicians is also a great way to get a feel for what’s trending and how it could affect your career trajectory.


Finally, of course, don’t forget about social media. Following influential people and outlets in your genre or field can provide invaluable information about upcoming trends before they become mainstream knowledge. Plus, you could always repost and share any interesting finds on your own social media accounts.


In Conclusion

Ultimately, understanding how to release music as an independent artist is only the first step to becoming a successful musician. It takes a combination of successful marketing and management to grow and maintain a fanbase.


The next key is to prioritize growing monetization channels, and keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry, and what's next.


These are the steps to success for independent artists in the modern scene, and we would love to help you wherever you may need assistance. Submit a song to us for free, or contact us to discuss where you'd like to have professional support.


We can assist with marketing strategies, graphic design, management, sync licensing, and much more. That way, when one of our artists puts out new release, they can rest assured they are covered.


Focus on making the best possible music, and we can focus on delivering the best possible results.


Be sure to create an account on our website for free to stay up-to-date with all the weekly blogs we will post in 2024 dedicated to independent artists.


'Til next time.

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