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Redfoot’s Reason: How Fans Influence Release Roll-out Fluidity

Redfoot’s Reason: How Fans Influence Release Roll-out Fluidity

Welcome to Redfoot’s Reason.

Alec Friedman

Redfoot’s Reasons are music business theories and explainers by Alec Friedman’s Redfoot Projects. Now in partnership with LANDR, this series of Redfoot Reason articles feature advice from thought-leaders across the music industry, curated and written by Alec Friedman.

@Alec Friedman

In this edition, we explore the importance of a long term music release strategy versus the ability to switch gears on a dime. We’ll hear from subject matter experts Alec Henderson, Alex Valenti, and Drew de Leon.

Our panel of experts discuss roll-out do's and don'ts.

Our panel of experts discuss roll-out do's and don'ts.

Let’s face it, no one likes to feel unprepared for an important task. There’s validity to learning on the job, but anyone who’s serious about their craft has to draw on experience to succeed.

When it comes to your release strategy, or Roll-out, the key is to strike a balance between thoughtfulness and adaptability.

You need a plan to be successful, but early results can force you to choose between staying the course and adapting to new information.

It can be tempting to jump ship when things aren’t going as planned. Life gets in the way, as do emotions, and we are all human.

So how can you learn to be fluid in your music roll-out planning?

As industry experts explain, it’s always in your best interest to follow your fanbase’s instructions.

In other words, let your fans guide your approach.

What is a roll-out?

Before we get started, you’ll need to understand the basic terms and strategic benefits discussed in this article.

First off, a roll-out is a playbook for your music release and how it will connect with your existing audience while reaching new audiences.

It’s a comprehensive planning document that includes all the initiatives attached to the artist’s release with dates for each trigger (i.e. marketing, digital, creative, etc.).

A roll-out serves as the roadmap, foundation, and basic framework for how to put the music out.

Distribution demystified.

Distribution demystified.

From the perspective of one of the fastest rising artist management companies, Alex Valenti (Co-Founder, CEO of 3V Method) urges the importance for managers to be prepared:

"Come to the artist with organization, an overview of what is to come. Artists should be focusing on their art, the ideas, and the storytelling, not worrying how it all comes together. What’s usually done in a roll out strategy is creating that document and plan that ties these things together."

Get fast, insightful support and promotional tips, tools and tricks and distribution to 100+ music streaming platforms when you release your tracks with LANDR. Release a track.

In dealing with all things digital marketing for the high profile roster at Universal Music’s Motown Records, Alec Henderson described his initial roll-out strategies as:

“Everything regarding the messaging of the record and how fans first hear it. When you first bring the record to the world, that’s the moment a roll-out begins.”

Why have a release strategy?

A good roll-out strategy situates your release in the best position to achieve the desired outcome.

Keep in mind how competitive the music release and streaming landscape is and the requirements to separate yourself. Henderson always aims to be “on the cutting edge against the competition, and without a strategy, you can’t ever get there.”

Your roll-out strategy is your opportunity to set clear goals for your release in advance.

It should include long and short-term goals that fit your budget and current artist development level.

Ultimately, your strategy should aim to showcase continuous growth as you build on each release.

That includes picturing what success can, or should look like and planning accordingly.

As an artist advocate using his hands to both build The Digilogue as a premium music education community, and to break records under the MPR Distribution banner, Drew de Leon outlines the privileges to goal setting within your strategy.

He explains:

“It’s important to understand what your goals are and how you want to obtain them. If you put out the volume of music, if you take time to build a community and create content, you will reap those rewards.”

Planning vs. adapting: How industry leaders promote new releases

With the basics out of the way, our panel of experts dive into the nuances of early cycle release management.

Alex Valenti

Co-Founder and CEO of <a href="https://www.3vmethod.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">3V Method</a>

Co-Founder and CEO of 3V Method

On planning

Before you even go into a roll-out, you want the artist to be emotionally and mentally sound. Do they know who they are, and the story they specifically are trying to tell with this campaign? Most of the artists I’ve worked with that have had growth the right way, and success, have really taken the time and thought through these things.”

 

vs. Adapting

It depends on what exactly is not working. There are so many different components (i.e. no playlisting, low engagement on socials, not creating a cultural conversation, non-effective PR, not exciting the label, etc.), but it’s drop to drop to assess who is not connecting and why, then dividing each sector. Because usually, it’s not everything that isn’t working. It’s department by department. Rather than taking a bird’s eye view, you have to look under the hood to see what isn’t working and why, and if you are able to adjust technical things.”

Playlists? Tastemakers?

Helpful tips on how to reach out.

Drew de Leon

Co-Founder of <a href="https://www.thedigilogue.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Digilogue</a> &amp; President at <a href="https://www.instagram.com/mprglobal/?hl=en" target="_blank" rel="noopener">MPR Global</a>

Co-Founder of The Digilogue & President at MPR Global

On planning

In the beginning when you don’t know who your fanbase and audience are yet, manage your expectations. It’s important to put as much music out as you can in the beginning, because you want to build a catalog for yourself. You can have 21 shots (releases in a year) to have a song react versus four if you were to put one song out per quarter. It’s a volume game, the way I see it. The short term goal of trying to get streams over a couple of releases is not realistic. In order for streaming to really work for you as an artist, the more songs you have, the more streams you get.

vs. Adapting

You need to look at it day to day for music consumption (data from Spotify, Apple,YouTube, etc.). It’s important to pay attention to how your content is making your music move. You see an uptick, where is it coming from? Maybe it’s a Reel or TikTok with comments at a certain timestamp that people seem to like. You have to look at the clues.

Spotify 101

Tips for success on the streaming powerhouse.

Alec Henderson

Director, Digital Marketing at <a href="https://www.motownrecords.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Motown Records</a>

Director, Digital Marketing at Motown Records

On planning

If you are looking at a project that you believe in, that you want people to really live with and digest, that re-shapes culture, you want a long term plan. Ensure that you’ve built the proper world around it to embody the art that you’re putting into the world. If a record is hot for the moment and the artist is on fire with demand, then get it out there. Feed the streets, and satisfy the audience. It’s two different things. The second any of it becomes cookie cutter, you are doing something wrong. There are general rules of thumb for wanting to deliver music ahead but each release is unique, dependent on the artist and their temperature.

vs. Adapting

It usually starts with the fans. Taking their temperature when they aren’t feeling it, that’s very tough to change. Labels don’t decide hits, artists don’t decide hits, the fans do. If you’re trying a TikTok strategy or an advertising spend, and that isn’t changing the minds of the consumer, that’s a good time to switch. It can be as simple as getting another release out, to A/B testing some new feelers or snippets out on TikTok to see what the fans are feeling. The more you empower the fans in the trends of today’s industry, that’s the best indicator on what the next move is or when to move onto another record.

The musician's guide to TikTok

Promote your music on the addictive app.

Planning your release strategy: 4 tips from industry insiders

So how can you make your release plans both resilient and adaptable? The key is to build fluidity into your approach.

Co-Founder of <a href="https://www.thedigilogue.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Digilogue</a> and President at <a href="https://www.instagram.com/mprglobal/?hl=en" target="_blank" rel="noopener">MPR Global</a>

Co-Founder of The Digilogue and President at MPR Global

Here’s our panel’s common recommendations to plan for change and pivot at the right time.

1. Test content for fan’s feedback

All three subject matter experts stressed the importance of social media in planning for the early stages of your push.

Eve shares her recipe for success on socials.

Eve shares her recipe for success on socials.

Play snippets and teasers of upcoming and/or newly-released material. Find out what fans gravitate towards, and provide them the opportunity to drive your campaign direction. 

Drew de Leon on letting fans take the lead

It’s important to put a small budget towards understanding which section of the song does a fan want to create content to. In your mind it might be the chorus, but for fans it might be the pre-hook or verse. You just don’t know until you put it out. You have to give fans the opportunity to be the drivers of that, but give them options.”

2. Connect your fans to your story

It’s tough to be transparent and vulnerable online. Aspirational lifestyles can attract followers but it’s difficult to build a real fan base without being relatable.

Alec Henderson (Director, Digital Marketing at Motown Records) outlined the relationship between music and social media as a method to draw fans closer with storytelling:

In a lot of ways, artists are using their music as their own social media platforms. It’s how they update their fans with where they are in life, and what's happening with them.

Drew de Leon on storytelling:

It goes back to the music. Are you telling your story? Is it competitive enough to be connecting with people? Is there a brand narrative that connects with people? Does the content need re-adjustment? Is it the type of content that fans want to consume and engage with? Most importantly, the community you are trying to create, are you spending time with them to cultivate a super fan base?

Alex Valenti on storytelling

More than anything, you need to know what the link is between the story of the artist and the music with the story of the campaign. If you don’t have that figured out, that lane, you’re setting yourself up for a trial, basically. You really have to have that figured out ahead of the campaign and the messaging extremely clear or you’ll be throwing things at the wall hoping that it sticks with no data or proof of concept that will work.

3. Fans are A&Rs, too

Get fast, insightful support and promotional tips, tools and tricks and distribution to 100+ music streaming platforms when you release your tracks with LANDR. Release a track.


It’s not just the content direction that fans are determining, it’s the music as well.

Today’s fastest growing artists are developing their sound at the same time they build their online communities.

Experiment with your production direction and react to the data your growing fan base provides.

Your goal is to produce more of the types of songs that they gravitate towards.

Alex Valenti on treating fans as A&amp;Rs

Working a bunch of songs individually, sometimes this works well when you have an artist that is still trying to figure out their sound, you need to test things a little bit. You can do single by single and ‘waterfall’ them out so that each song gets a moment while creating a mixtape (not labeled as an artist’s first project). Sonically, they can be a bit all over the place and not the best example of the direction the artist is going, but usually when I do those types of things, I get enough data as to what people are responding to which helps to adjust the A&R direction moving forward.

4. Actionable Advice: You Can Use a ‘Waterfall Strategy’

The ‘Waterfall’ music release strategy is a hybrid between a singles release and a full project roll-out.

It allows artists to benefit from the cadence of a singles release while building stream counts toward a traditional album or EP.

The latest releases feed streams into the previous ones in the series, while total stream counts are carried into the latest release page.

When a user goes to play your latest release, the previous song in your catalog automatically streams.

It appears on streaming services as a playlist that is continually updating.

This can be accomplished through distribution services by duplicating ISRC codes within your metadata.

Here’s how it works:

Every time you drop a new single, it gets added to what looks like a playlist (the artwork can change with each song), and it has all of the songs from the previous drops on it. Why people do it is not only for each song to have its moment, but also to bring people back to the other records, as opposed to needing to go back to look for the other records that came out. This is all in the same playlist, playing the next song immediately. It’s a good way to structure things.

Redfoot's Reason

The goal of this series is to help guide music creatives and business people alike.
If you’re feeling lost when planning and executing your release, the advice from these industry leaders can help you find a foothold.
Thank you to Drew, Alec, and Alex for taking the time to participate and share knowledge within this article, and to LANDR for providing a powerful all-in-one music platform.

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