We see this far too often. Scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, we see an artist we work with promoting a song to their fans that we haven’t received for distribution yet. 

Yeah, if you’re an artist reading this, we see you

At the end of the day, there’s nothing we can do to stop you from doing this. However, it’s not the smartest decision for the success of your album, and I’ll tell you why. 

In marketing, we throw the term “call-to-action” around a lot. A “call-to-action” (CTA) is the request attached to a social media post, an advertisement, or any form of media.

“Pre-save now!” 

“Listen now!” 

“Comment your favorite song on the album!” 

“Share this video!”

“Visit our merch store!” 

“Watch our new music video!” 

“Buy tickets to the show today!” 

“Tag your friends!”

All of these are examples of CTAs. These statements give the audience a specific task that you want them to do upon seeing your content. CTAs statistically work best when you provide easy access to your request by linking to it in the post.

Here’s the thing: it is impossible to give your audience a link to your music (aka a smart link, pre-save link, etc.) if the song has not been delivered to the DSPs via your distribution channel. 

Therefore, promoting your release on social media before sending it out for distribution is unfruitful in most cases. This has negative implications for your release in a few different ways:

1. Algorithms rule social media marketing.

Because of this fact, it is very unlikely that every follower or fan will see every post you make. You may rationalize that you can start posting about the song without the link and then use the link when you have it. But what happens to the fan who only comes across the linkless post because the algorithm is working against you?

2. The attention span of humans is only eight seconds.

If you think for one second that your audience is going to remember to come back when you have a link, think again. The action you call them to needs to be clearly stated AND easily accessible in the eight seconds you have their attention. Otherwise, you are subject to the fate of the algorithm, waiting on the day that your content shows up on their phone screen again.

3. Pre-release data can make or break your playlist opportunities.

Do you want to be at the top of Spotify’s New Music Friday? Then you have to get your pre-save numbers up. Yes, they look at that data when determining whether or not your song gets playlisted. High numbers of pre-saves mean high demand, and Spotify wants to capitalize on that demand so they make money off your music.

4. Your distributor has less flexibility to help you.

Your distributor wants to help. And there are all kinds of ways they can that you haven’t even thought about. One example is, they tend to know the releases that are coming out that day—not only from other distributors, but also from their own system. So, you may want to get on their radar first and see when to drop with the most impact. If you are a Bluegrass artist and there are already a bunch of Bluegrass releases dropping the week you were originally thinking of, you may want to consider the week before or after to increase your chance of being positioned. Besides release dates, a distributor has a wealth of knowledge that can be tapped into when you engage them first on an upcoming release and its potential strategy.

It is for all of these reasons and more that we suggest artists submit their songs to distribution (whether through us at Syntax Creative or others) at least 6–8 weeks before the release date. Following that timeline allows you the time to plan, develop, and execute an effective marketing plan to promote your music and gain the traction and excitement your music deserves.