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The Definitive Album Release Checklist

Your album is mixed and mastered, finally! You’ve got cover art and maybe even replication lined up. Now what?

This is the question I was hired to answer. Specifically, I was asked to create a to-do list for a band’s debut album. They were generous enough to allow me to share it with you.

Keep in mind that all this stuff comes before the actual promotion. We’re simply laying the groundwork here.

Register your .com domain

If yourbandname.com isn’t available, choose another band name. No joke! Owning your domain is HUGE.

Trademark your band name

I hired Gerben Law Firm, and the entire process was a breeze. Josh conducts a comprehensive search, which will turn up any competing marks.

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Crowd Review Track Smarts: SoundOut vs AudioKite vs Music Xray

This is the story of a mediocre song. An objectively mediocre song. My song. Curse you, data!

If you’re looking for unbiased feedback on your latest track, you’ve got five options. Well, five-ish.

There’s SoundOut, which I wrote about way back in 2010.

Then there’s ReverbNation Crowd Review and TuneCore Track Smarts, both of which are powered by SoundOut.

Are all three SoundOut services the same? We’ll find out.

I reviewed AudioKite earlier this year, gushingly. A new and improved version launched just this month.

Finally, Music Xray offers a diagnostics feature, which presents your track to 5 music professionals and 20 potential fans.

Which is right for you?

Time for a good old-fashioned market research shootout!

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NBS

What Artists Should Know About Next Big Sound

Perhaps you don’t sell too many albums on iTunes, or have that many SoundCloud plays or YouTube views. But maybe, just maybe, your music is really popular in some far off corner of the digital universe you never even knew about, and all that “exposure” you’ve racked up over the years is paying off behind the scenes.

Next Big Sound provides detailed online music analytics to measure the growth of bands on streaming services and social networks. It doesn’t cover everything, but it casts a wide enough net to shatter an artist’s dreams with cold, hard data. I know it did mine! <sniff>

Cidney at NBS agreed to give me an artist credit for one month so that I could write this article, way back in April. Hopefully she’ll forget to downgrade my account.

Features

Key Metrics

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LANDR

Can LANDR Replace Your Mastering Engineer?

Drag-and-drop online mastering is here, and it’s free to try. LANDR provides unlimited 192 kbps mp3 masters of your tracks in seconds.

If you like what you hear, you can pay for uncompressed 16-bit .wav masters. Pricing is very reasonable at $9 for four or $19 for unlimited masters per month. Paid users also get to select the “intensity” of the mastering: low, medium (the default), or high.

Their algorithms were refined over eight years of university research, and they even have a resident astrophysicist. An astrophysicist!

Guess this mastering engineer is out of a job, right?

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What Artists Should Know About ArtistLink

ArtistLink started as an extension of the Topspin Media platform, so that non-Topspin users could add content to the MTV Artists site. It’s well on its way to becoming the control panel for the music industry.

I encourage any artist with a release on Spotify to sign up for ArtistLink. All essential functionality is free.

UPDATE 12/17/14: Spotify promotions through ArtistLink are no more. If you want to sell through Spotify, you’ll have to do it through BandPage.

As of this writing, ArtistLink is basically four services rolled up into one. I’ll go over each, starting with the coolest.

Spotify

If you take a look at my Spotify profile on the desktop app or web player, you’ll see I’m selling stuff! Right there on Spotify! For free! Spotify doesn’t take a cut.

Spotify merch

Even better, I’m selling from my own site!

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You can add up to three promotions, directing each to the URL of your choice. For now, they only appear on the desktop app and web player – not the mobile apps.

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Top 10 Music Promotion Posts of 2013

2013 was a slow year for Passive Promotion, because I was too busy with this, this, and this to write. For the most part, I focused on creation rather than promotion. Next year I’ll have two EPs and a full-length Color Theory album to promote, and you can bet I’ll be sharing my methods and results with you here.

While I didn’t write too much over the past year, I did read a whole lot! Here are my top 10 music promotion posts of 2013, in reverse chronological order, based on how useful I found them for my particular needs and circumstances:

The Indie Musician’s Guide to Digital Distribution

Wax On, Wax Off Guide to Starting from Scratch on Twitter

8 Effective Email Marketing Strategies, Backed by Science

The 7 Biggest, Counterintuitive Social Media Mistakes You May be Making

The Ultimate Guide to Band Merchandise

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"Set it and forget it" music promotion