In 1995, TLC warned us against chasing waterfalls. However, these weren’t the kind they were talking about.

So what is a waterfall release?

A waterfall release is actually several successive releases of singles leading up to the release of a larger project. Not only does this strategy appear as though your project is growing, it also provides much more opportunity to pitch and promote the project. 

When pitching your music to editors, there are some guidelines that you have to follow. 

  • Pitching must take place more than five days before the release date. 
  • Only one song per UPC code can be pitched. 
  • Each ISRC code can only be pitched one time.

Using the waterfall method, you’re able to work around the above limitations.

How does it work?

1) To start, release a single. To follow guidelines at the DSPs, the project must be titled the same as the single title, not the album title. It is recommended that the title on the artwork match the song title, though they do allow for exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Another option is to use the art for the album with no title. If this bothers you, it’s recommended that you choose the title track to be the first single. 

Your metadata should be as follows:

Release Title: Single 1 Title 

Cover Art: Specific to Single

Release Format: Single 


Focus Track (the track being pitched): Single 1 (ISRC Code: 11111111111)


  1. Single 1 (ISRC Code: 11111111111)

2) Schedule your next release around four weeks after the first. When submitting this release, select it to be dropped as a single, but you will add two tracks: the first single and the second single. It will have a new UPC, but make sure to use the same ISRC codes for previously released songs. At this point, the project title and the cover art can change to match the album or EP. 

Your metadata should be as follows:

Release Title: Album Title 

Cover Art: Album Art

Release Format: Single 


Focus Track (the track being pitched): Single 2 (ISRC Code: 2222222222)


  1. Single 2 (ISRC Code: 2222222222)
  2. Single 1 (ISRC Code: 11111111111)

3) After the second single has been released, songs with matching ISRC codes should sync within 1-2 days. As displayed in the above photos, the stream count for Single 1 in both images matches. Once you see that has taken place and the numbers match, you should take down the prior release. This is how you create the illusion that your project is growing—by making sure the only version people can see on your profile is the most recent one once the streams have synced.

4) To move forward with the waterfall strategy, you will repeat steps two and three for each song you would like pitched for playlisting. Some artists choose to release 3-5 singles before dropping the whole album. Others have done waterfall releases for every track on the album. The world is your oyster.

How can the Waterfall Strategy benefit me?

  • It gives more opportunities for playlisting and longer promotion of your project. Not every song on your project is a hit, but releasing this way gives every song its time to shine. Each individual track released has an equal opportunity to find an audience.
  • It extends the life of your project. If you have a 10-song album and release each song individually, it keeps your project in front of the eyes of editors and fans for ten months. It makes a much bigger splash.
  • It builds momentum. When Candace Coker released a double single in October of 2022, she had less than 500 monthly listeners. Neither of the two singles landed on any editorial playlists. By the time her full album released in February of 2023, she had nearly 20,000 monthly listeners, and the focus track, “Bare and Bones,” landed the cover and #1 spot on Spotify’s New Music Friday Christian and #99 on the overall New Music Friday. Those placements bumped her monthly listenership up to nearly 30,000 listeners.
  • It buys time. Maybe you’re burnt and need a break. You just bought yourself ten months. How about more time with your family? You’ve got ten months. Or maybe you just want to keep writing, touring, and recording so you can keep building momentum.

Time to get your boots and camping gear ready… It’s time to chase some waterfalls!