How to plan a successful CD release party

The seven steps to a successful CD release party

Once your final mix is done you're itching to share your new music with your friends and fans. So you hurry up and schedule a CD release party, right...? NO!

Your CD release party should not be a rushed affair. You should have ample time to plan and promote it properly, to make sure it will be as epic as you've dreamed it would.

There are seven steps to putting on a successful CD release party:

  1. Promote your upcoming release
  2. Order your CDs
  3. Order merchandise
  4. Book a venue
  5. Promote the CD release party
  6. Rehearse
  7. Play the show and have fun!

1. Promoting your upcoming release

While you are still recording you should start thinking of ways to promote your album. Release small teasers to your email list and social media following; live video from the studio, previews of the CD packaging design, a single, a music video.

Start compiling a list of potential publications, blogs and websites that might be willing to write a review of your upcoming album or do an interview with you. Also gather a list of college radio stations. A good place to start is Indie on the Move. When making your lists you should do intensive research, know the journalist and dj's name to be sure you're addressing the right person when sending out your press release and album.

2. Order your CDs

As soon as your final master is ready, you should order your CDs. Do not wait until the week before the show before starting the manufacturing process. Even if you go with a reputable CD manufacturing company there is always the potential of a delay. Say you get your proofs back and realize you've misspelled the bass player's name, or your graphic designer swapped the panels when they laid out the artwork and need to submit new files, only he's off snowboarding for a week... To save yourself any unnecessary stress and potential added costs of expedited shipping do NOT set a release date until you actually have your CDs in hand. We repeat:

Do NOT set a release date until you actually have yours CDs in hand!

3. Order your merchandise

A CD release party should be a huge happening, and it is a great opportunity make some extra money! Make sure your merch table is fully stocked and price your items to sell. You should also order special limited edition release date merch like premium quality posters or T-shirts. In order to make your release party memorable, plan on having something for free to give to everyone who attends. It could be your CDs, T-shirts, stickers, posters, you name it...

4. Book a venue

Now that you have ordered your actual CDs and accompanying merch, it is time to book a venue. Book the show at least two months out to give yourself enough time to properly promote.

Don't be afraid to think outside of the box. An unusual music venue gives for great buzz among your fans and any interesting angle is a plus when trying to get press coverage. It might be tempting to go for the biggest, coolest venue in town, but keep in mind that it is way more fun to play for a packed, small room, than in an half-empty spacious venue.

5. Promote the show

As soon as the date is set,  it's time to start promoting. This is when you pull out that list of magazines, blogs and radio stations you compiled in step 1 during your recording process. Write a press release and send it out to the appropriate journalists, bloggers, local newspapers and DJs along with your newly pressed CD. If you intend to sell tickets to your show, set up pre-sales on your website and with established ticketing services. Make frequent posts to your social media pages; announce the show, give away a free download, raffle off a limited edition poster and T-shirt as well as some free tickets to the show, etc. Also send a few emails to your list to keep the buzz going. Print up posters and gather your most die-hard fans to put them up around town.

6. Rehearse

Obviously you need to rehearse your show. This is gonna be the most epic, fun packed event of the year. Not only should you make sure you're all tight and well rehearsed, you should also rehearse the performance as well. Videotape your rehearsals and be critical about how you look on stage. Write scripts for what to say in between songs. Rehearse every part of the performance until it feels relaxed and natural. 

In addition you should think about other fun stuff to do during your release party. Will you run a contest where the prize is a private house concert? Will you invite someone in the crowd to play with you?

7. Play the show and have fun!

Before the big day, make sure you're well rested and ready to have a ball! Play your heart out, mingle with your crowd. Remember to plug your merch table! Thank everyone who has helped you along the way! Don't forget that it is a CD release party, with emphasis on the PARTY, make it fun!

Bonus tip: If you you book a venue that requires you to charge a cover fee for your audience, include your new CD with each cover charge paid. Your fans will think this is a great value and you will acquire new fans as well. People who may not otherwise purchase your CD will now have it, fall in love with it, and want to purchase your back catalog. :)

Photo Credit: Alexandre Brault | Artist: Kimberly Sunstrum

If you have stories to share about your own CD release party, please do so in the comments section below!

Written by Silver Sorensen

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