Tag Archive for: music releases

How To Release Music During A Pandemic

A question that I commonly get during my mentorship sessions is if it’s different to get signed to a label during the pandemic, or if it’s the same. The answer is yes to both, but with some caveats. These are some of the best ways for how to release music during a pandemic.

The best way to get signed to a label is through networking, rather than cold submission, pandemic or not. Over the years of running Archipel, only about 2% of its releases are from cold emails. 

That’s because most of the people I sign I have a personal relationship with. And most of these personal relationships were fostered through meeting people at events. 

Clearly there aren’t events now. 

Another common way that tracks would get signed is DJs would play a track at a club, and label owners like myself would ask what the track was. We would then contact the artist, and see if they wanted to sign to the label. 

But alas, clubs aren’t open, and live streams aren’t attended like clubs are. So the chances of an organic signing happening like that are slimmer than it used to be. Sure, it can still happen, especially through DJ mixes, but it’s not the same.

But don’t despair. Just because traditional, organic avenues of track signing are unavailable, doesn’t mean that new avenues haven’t become available.


Strategies For How To Release Music During A Pandemic


How To Release Music During A Pandemic – Things That Don’t Work

Before we get into what does work during a pandemic, let’s cover what doesn’t work. Harking back to emails, like I said before, only 2% of my signees are from them. During a pandemic, this number is significantly reduced due to the sheer volume of people soliciting signings. 

Additionally, many labels are reducing the amount of signees, since DJs aren’t buying as many tracks, thus drying up their revenue streams. Plus, if they release on physical formats such as vinyl, or cassette, many of these factories are operating on reduced staff for health reasons. This delays releases, and increasing the cost of these mediums.

This makes labels even pickier about the stuff that they sign, considering that it will ultimately net them less revenue. 

In other words, unless you are someone they really want to sign, the chances of you getting signed through a cold approach are pretty slim, due to scarcity.


How To Release Music During A Pandemic – Things That Do Work

This doesn’t mean that artists are screwed though. Even with clubs closed, and inboxes inundated, there are both alternative routes to getting signed, as well as new ones that have become available due to the pandemic.

First, lets talk about the alternative routes. 


Getting Discovered On YouTube Or SoundCloud

This is a process involves a sacrifice; a sacrifice to the YouTube or SoundCloud gods. There are dozens of sound specific YouTube and SoundCloud channels out there, dedicated to supporting good music. A lot of the time, these channels aren’t concerned about brand recognition, or revenue potential, since they don’t make a lot, or any money off of what they upload. Additionally, the cost to them is only an opportunity one, since it’s free to upload to SoundCloud and YouTube.


how to release music during a pandemic YouTube photo


If it’s a well curated channel, there will be label owners who frequent it, because first and foremost, label owners are music fans. Secondly, if your track is that good, and they hear it, they may reach out to you to see what else you have.

The track you uploaded won’t be signed usually, but if you make a similar sound, chances are one of your other ones will. Additionally, you will get your track put up on a well trafficked page, so who knows who else will hear it. It could lead to new fans, downloads, etc.

So how to release music during a pandemic on these channels?

Target Your Channels

First, make sure the channel is targeted. If you are making minimal house music, it doesn’t make sense to send it to a drum n bass channel, or vice versa. Not only will you waste your own time putting together the contact info and email, but you will also waste theirs, which increases the chances of your email being flagged as spam. Get enough spam flags, and none of your emails will deliver, even to relevant ones.

A good way to target these channels is to think of a small to mid sized artist that has a similar sound to yours, and then search for them on YouTube or SoundCloud. Then, if you see a channel that has uploaded it, then reach out to them. 


Make Sure The Channel Isn’t A Label

Note, that many of the channels that upload these tracks are the labels themselves. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to contact these, as this is not the goal. Just make sure to pay attention to who you are submitting to.


Example Email

When reaching out to these places, understand that the more popular the channel, the more solicitations they will get. Therefore, keep your messages short, sweet, and relevant.

Hi {channel name or first name of channel owner},

Thanks for supporting smaller artists. It’s people like you who keep good music flowing upwards, and for that, I appreciate you. 

I saw that you uploaded {similar artist name}. I just finished this track (link to download enabled track on a private SoundCloud) and I think it has similar vibes, and would work well on {channel name}.

Would you let me know your thoughts on it?

Thanks for giving it a listen!

{Your Name}

{Links to EPK, website, etc.}


See how it’s short, sweet, flattering, and provides all the necessary information. This is a great way for how to release music during a pandemic.


how to release music during a pandemic SoundCloud photo


Advertise That It’s Unsigned

If they decide they want to upload it, they will most likely contact you about it to ask for more info. Ask them to stipulate that the track is unsigned and self released in the YouTube description. This will typically be in the section where it says the label name, but instead will read unsigned. 

This will signal to potential labels that you’re available, and is a key tactic in how to release music during a pandemic. 


You Will Get Thousands Of Listens

Don’t despair if you don’t get signed this way, though. If it’s a popular enough channel, you will get thousands of ears on your track, which in itself is a win. Also, there is nothing from stopping you from submitting to multiple channels as well. They are channels, not labels. You can be on multiple channels with the same song. This is still a solid tactic for how to release music during a pandemic.


Paid Channels

Note, that there are a lot of paid channels. Some are good, some are not so good. The good ones will have a curation process, and won’t accept just anything. If you get a reply back from one soliciting payment for an upload, check their other tracks and see if they are quality. If they are just uploading anything they can make a few dollars off of, then chances are the engagement you are seeing is fake since who wants to engage with bad quality stuff? 



Some people may be familiar with SubmitHub as well. It is a common channel people would use for how to release music during a pandemic, or not.

If you’re not familiar, SubmitHub is a place where you can pay a small fee to solicit a listen from a blog. If they like it, they may upload it. However, you only pay for a listen, not an upload. 

SubmitHub is a decent route for how to release music during a pandemic, if you have really good stuff. But make sure 1) your stuff is relevant and 2) they have a decent acceptance rate. If they only have a 1 or 2% acceptance rate, that’s a similar chance of your stuff getting signed from a cold email to a label, so you might as well just go to the label directly instead of doing this roundabout way. Look for channels that accept at least 10% of submissions.

how to release music during a pandemic Submithub photo  how to release music during a pandemic submithub settings photo


Networking, Pandemic Style

The next way to get signed is through referral, or through meeting the label head directly. While it will be less personal than meeting them in person, while under the positive influence of the club, and it’s many vices, there are still ways to achieve a similar goal using things like social media. These methods are one of the more sure fire ways for how to release music during a pandemic.


Reaching Out To DJs/Producers For A Referral

While in the past, DJs would have been on tour, and thus less responsive to messages online, in this current environment, they’re all home. That is, unless they’re playing Tulum and killing someone’s abuela for clout. 

But for the non-selfish DJs, most are sitting home, or in the studio, not doing much, just like everyone else. Therefore, they are more likely to respond to messages. That means they are more likely to respond to your message. If done tactfully, you can turn this message into a referral to a label that they are on.

One of the best ways to get noticed by someone is to ask for their advice about something. People like to be appreciated for their expertise, and since they have time, they are willing to give it out. 

However, just like in Pheek’s Coaching Corner, if you’re going to ask them for advice, make it specific. Don’t just ask them what they think of the track. Ask them specific things, like parts of the mix, what they think of the bridge, or a specific tone you use. Ask them how they would improve it, or if they think it’s good as it is.

If they have advice, modify the track using it, and then send it back to them for a follow up opinion, which, if they helped you the first time, they’re likely to help you again. 

how to release music during a pandemic instagram photo


Proposing To Them

Once you get it to a point where they are excited about the track, you can drop, “In your opinion, do you think it would work well on {insert label} if I sent it over to them?” They would hopefully give you a yes, or no answer. If it’s a no, maybe ask them the reason, and what you can do in order to improve your odds.

Don’t take it personally, sometimes labels are just not signing new artists, or they only sign artists within a certain social circle.

If it’s a yes, almost apologetically, ask if they would make an intro for you, or allow you to use their seal of approval in the email you send over to the label. This will go a long way in proving to the label that you’re just not another submitter, but rather someone who is part of the inner circle. Getting them to agree to feedback, or an introduction, will one of the best recommendations I can make in regards to how to release music during a pandemic.

Reaching Out To Labels For Advice

This same approach can be taken for labels. While, it’s not recommended that you send them your track right away for them to provide feedback on, maybe hit them up with a, “Hey, I love your label {briefly talk about what you like about it]. I’m an artist who’s trying to learn the ways of the world, and I was curious, what’s the best way to approach a label like yours? Do you recommend just submitting it cold, or is there a better way?”

This way, you’re asking for their feedback, not necessarily submitting a track. If you’re able to build solid rapport with them, then ask if they will check out your track. Worst they say is no, and you will have learned a valuable lesson about how to approach labels, and made a good industry connection that you can call on, assuming you keep rapport with them.

A piece of advice before reaching out to anyone though – make sure to interact with their content beforehand so that you show that you’re a real fan, and not just someone who wants something. For a couple months, like, and comment on their posts so that they recognize your name when you eventually reach out to them. This will warm the water a little bit, and make them far more receptive. 


How To Release Music During A Pandemic – Other Channels

Join A Group

For instance, Pheek’s Coaching Corner. There are tons of label owners on there, and if you stay active on there, and upload your tracks for advice, there is a good chance a label owner listens to it, and reaches out to you if they like it. There are tons of groups like this for their respective genre, on Facebook, and Discord. You can also ask these groups about how to release music during a pandemic.


Join A Class

There are tons of producers who are hosting online classes. For instance, Justin Jay currently teaches a group of students, and he recently released a class compilation on his label.  They may even cover how to release music during a pandemic.


Start A Blog

You’d be surprised how easy it is to get an artist to give you an interview, especially nowadays. If you target your blog to a specific topic that isn’t well covered, then you can build an audience around that niche. 

Another good thing to do is to just create a Facebook page where you do video podcasts and upload them to Facebook. Once you upload them to Facebook video, you can share them in relevant groups, and each 3 second view counts as a view. This way, you can show some good stats to potential interviewees, and show that it won’t fall on deaf ears. 

You can then upload your videos to YouTube as well, and start a YouTube channel with the interviews. 

This method is valuable because not only do you get an introduction, but you also provide them value, which begets reciprocity. And reciprocity is a great “how” for how to release music during a pandemic.


Contribute To An Established Blog

If you’re a good writer, many of these blogs are looking for people to contribute and add new content. Many don’t pay, however, the amount of value you can get from these is worth the money, as it gives you access to people you normally wouldn’t have access to.

Also, this way you don’t have to build your own blog, and are instead using the position of something already established to garnish interviews.

However, I would not recommend a quid pro quo, where they get an interview for signing or listening to your track. This can come off wrong, and runs the risk of the blog you write for dismissing you as a writer.

Instead, after you publish the interview, ask them if they wouldn’t mind answering some questions for you and/or giving you feedback. 


Start Your Own YouTube or SoundCloud

This is similar to the method we talked about before, where you get discovered on a YouTube or SoundCloud channel, but kind of in reverse. Now, the labels come to you. And if you curate the channel with a sound that is similar to yours, the labels that will come to you are targeted. 

Since it’s your channel, you can set up whatever terms you want for them getting their track on your site. 

This will obviously take time to build to a point where it’s viable, but once it’s established, you will have a constant stream of labels that you wanted to sign to reaching out to you, instead of vice versa. You will also have a channel to premiere your own music on, if you chose to.


Start Your Own Label

Similar to starting your own YouTube or SoundCloud channel, this makes it so the people you want come to you, in a sense. At first, you will have to build a base of releases. These can be from friends, or small producers looking for any label to sign to (some small producers just like to collect labels). 

Then, once you have a dozen or so releases, you can start reaching out to smaller artists on labels that you want to be on, or labels that are related to labels you want to be on. Then you sign those people, and continue to trade up, until you start signing more established artists.

Use Torrents

Another route is to use Soulseek. Soulseek is a private bittorrent network where people share music. Many of the people on Soulseek are the types of people who just need to own everything, so by putting your stuff on there, there is a chance that it will get picked up by someone, and disseminated organically. Once again, no guarantees, but it doesn’t take a lot of effort to put your stuff out there.


Some Final Thoughts On How to release music during a pandemic

These are just some of the creative ways to get on a label during the pandemic. Most of these techniques work at any time during history, but are made more available due to people just having more time.

When the world gets going, DJs and labels are going to be less enthusiastic about responding to all the messages they get from fans over social media. 

Additionally, people aren’t going to have the same amount of time, and thus desire, to start blogging, or start their own label, or even take classes. Therefore, there is no better time than now to seize the day. History has given creatives a silver lining; we might as well mine its ore while the getting is good. 

Hopefully you got some value out of this article on how to release music during a pandemic.

The New Face Of Albums

A lot of articles have predicted that the album as we know it would die off in the face of the rising popularity of viral single tracks. These are bold statements. But to understand the future of albums, we need to understand where they come from. Some years back, they were also forecasting the demise of vinyl production around 2012, after all — and yet in 2016, revenues from physical formats still outpaced digital sales. So, careful with predictions.

As artists, our role is to take control of the options we’re faced with by charting a creative path through them. I’m saying this because I increasingly see clients/artists who seem more interested in repeating the patterns that worked before to get known or get bookings, while fewer people are trying to break the rules (to echo a pretty epic rant by Mr. C).

When it comes to albums, we’ve been repeating a model that has been there for so long we can’t even remember when or how it started. Maybe it goes back to classical concerts over a hundred years back that had fixed durations, or maybe it goes back to the important albums released in the 1960s, at a time when vinyl’s limitations determined track lengths. Perhaps you’ve heard the story of Manuel Göttsching, who recorded himself playing a live session in the early 80s that went almost an hour long. No one could release it on vinyl because they would have had to cut it in half. It took the arrival of CDs to make that possible, but until then, Göttsching had no idea how to release his music (there was obviously no Bandcamp back then…).

One important detail about Göttsching is that it took him almost 30 years to really get known in Germany, and he got a super late gig at Berghain around 2006

Personally, I think an album should be audacious and unsettling to the commercial model. Something that forces the rigidity of conventions to bend to your artistic expression.

We have more freedom than we think we have, and we have become too timid or lazy to fully embrace it. Mostly for a few reasons:

  • Concerns over reach. As in, what will happen if I release something but only 10 people hear it? Will it be a waste of all the work and money I invested in it? No. Putting something online and promoting it are two different things, and if promotion is what stops you from creating what makes you happy, then you don’t have your priorities straight. Being present and available when people search for you is far more important than instant success.
  • Fear of missing opportunities. People think if they release their album themselves, they might miss the chance to release it on the label they wanted to work with. It’s possible, but if your music is great, it might also attract some labels who want to work with you. The main challenge with getting signed to a label is that it’s often a bad match, with one side wanting it more than the other. If you have published material, it might travel to the ears of people who care.
  • Sales. People are terrified that it might not sell. But sales aren’t an indication of success. Whether sadly or thankfully, success is something that’s impossible to quantify, because it’s different for everyone. If you have poured a lot of money into promotion and are everywhere, but the return on your investment is none, then you’ve also lost in a way.

The question really comes down to this: As DJs are increasingly shopping for tracks they can play, and people are more and more interested in listening to the only track on an album they like, what’s the use of throwing a bunch of tracks together to call it an album?

Because with an album, we can fully express ourselves and think about something to say instead of just trying to sell. People still care about stories. And even if it’s only 2% of people who will listen to what you do, I believe that the very experience of going outside your comfort zone and trying to make something is essential for self-growth.

There was a time when the dream of reaching the masses with your music was more attainable. The fracturing of audiences today into smaller bubbles of  scenes and sub-genres might make it almost impossible unless you make something that goes viral. But these denser networks of fans also create even greater opportunities to reach the right people, which can pay off much more in the long run than trying to reach audiences at-large.

Here are a few hints for pursuing new models for albums:

  • Tell a story. As David Lynch said, “A story has a beginning, a middle part and an ending, but not always in that order.”
  • Arrange your songs so they can be played in any order. More and more people listen to playlists on shuffle. It’s interesting to think that the intended order of your songs might not be respected by the listener at all. Thinking this way forces you to consider making tracks that are interconnected in other ways, and that still fit together in a different, more non-sequential sense. Maybe your album can have many different meanings, linkages, or entry points. Who knows?
  • Do something unusual. Try to do something experimental or explore making a very long track.
  • Get out of your comfort zone. This is very personal, but it could mean using a new plugin or trying something new you learned in a YouTube tutorial. Trying something different can bring out something you didn’t know you could do.
  • Collaborate. There are so many ways to do this, but try reaching out to friends or people you admire and see if (and how) they’d be interested in collaborating.

And please, share your own album ideas with me! I’m sure I can learn something from you too.

SEE ALSO : Create Your Own Concept Album