Indie Artist Advice – 5 Things You Should Budget For When Releasing an Album

When music moved into the digital age, artists were suddenly able to record entire albums on a laptop, and at the push of a button their music would be uploaded onto streaming music services. The concept of a budget became almost foreign. Hey, who needs studio time, or physical product, when everything is free now? Let’s pocket that money! 

If you really want to go about things that way, you could have a zero dollar budget for your album’s release, but you know the old saying “you get what you pay for”? A zero dollar budget yields zero dollars worth of rewards.

Rather than looking at the things you no longer need to pay for as pure savings, think of the ways you can invest that money in your album’s release that could result in a heck of a lot more people hearing your work.

If you’re in that mindset (and I hope you are), here are 5 things you should budget for when releasing an album.

1. A PR campaign

Much like the philosophical question regarding if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it – if an album is uploaded to streaming services, and nobody promotes it, does it make a sound?

Last year it was estimated that roughly 60,000 songs were uploaded to Spotify every day, so while your album may be great, it’s swimming in a sea that’s overflowing with new music, and unless you’re on a specific playlist, or already have a rabid fan base that will spread the word, you’re going to need some help getting people to discover your work.

You’re going to need to hire a publicist.

The best way to find the right publicist is to talk to artist friends about the publicists they’ve used. Through doing this you’ll figure out which companies you might want to work with, and gauge the rates they charge.

Once you’ve decided on which PR company you want to hire (I’d suggest just having a Top 3, just in case a company isn’t taking on new clients at the moment, or a place has raised their rates), budget 3 to 4 months worth of their services for a PR campaign.

If you’re thinking, “PR is just sending out emails. I can do that on my own,” remember that publicists have long established relationships with the publications you want to be in. Their emails have a MUCH better chance of getting read, and responded to, than a blind email from an artist. Take it from me, a writer who’s been fielding these emails for over two decades.

2. Social media promo buys 

Unfortunately, we live in a social media-obsessed world. Damned near everyone is on some form of social media. Figure out where the majority of your fans, and potential fans, are, and decide on the kind of social media buys you should make to promote your album.

Promoted Facebook posts, and Tweets are always showing up in our timelines, and even when we don’t click on them, they do a decent job of advertising. They’re also a way of reaching current fans who may miss your posts because, as we know, sites like Facebook don’t show the posts on your artist page to everyone, because they want you to pay to spread the word.

It’s ugly, it’s unpleasant, but you should consider budgeting for it.

3. Promotional flyers / evergreen flyers 

I know what you’re thinking – “Oh Adam, you’re so old school.”

You’re damned right I’m old school, and there’s quite a bit we can learn from the old school, because a lot of those methods worked. In fact, back in 2015 I wrote a column for SonicBids about old school promotional methods that still work, and one of those methods was the time honored tradition of the flyer. Guess what – even in 2022 it’s a solid way to promote your music.

In an indie artist advice column I wrote earlier this year I talked about always having something to autograph, and one suggestion for artists on an especially tight budget was an evergreen flyer, something with all your information on it regarding where to find you online, and where people can listen to your music.

If you’re going to be promoting an album for an extended period of time – which you should absolutely do, because your music is always new to someone who hasn’t heard it yet – a flyer that promotes the album, and where to hear/buy it, will always be a great tool. You want to have something like this on you at all times, so when you’re talking to someone about your album, you can hand them all the info.

4. Physical copies and/or download cards 

The thing about physical music in 2022 is that it isn’t about whether or not you want vinyl, or CDs, it’s about whether or not you think your audience will want to purchase your music on vinyl, or CD, because you sure as heck don’t want to be stuck with hundreds and hundreds of physical copies you can’t move.

A quick fan poll, or doing things via pre-order, with a goal needing to be reached before anything is created, are two ways to figure out if your fans want something physical.

If it turns out your fans are into it, add the cost to your budget. In this case it’s a cost you can be pretty sure will be recouped, especially if everything is done via pre-order.

If your fans are more apt to download your music, purchasing download cards is an option you can look into. They certainly don’t take up as much space as physical product, but again, all that matters is if your fans will be into it.

5. A proper bio 

I know the impulse is to just write something yourself, or have a buddy do a quick write up, but this is yet another instance of – you get what you pay for.

You want to invest in a proper bio because that’s what’s going to let everyone know who you are, and why they should be interested in your music. Yes I know, the music should speak for itself. I’m sorry to say that isn’t the case the vast majority of the time. People need a reason to listen – sometimes that reason is genre-based, sometimes it’s a great backstory, sometimes it’s something as simple as location (I write a weekly column on NYC’s indie music scene. If your bio says you’re from NYC, I’m going to listen to your work).

The price of a bio can range greatly, but a publicist can point you in the right direction. Also, make sure the writer you choose is willing to work with you on rewrites. Remember, it’s your bio, so while you should absolutely take the advice of the writer, and your publicist, you should also be excited about the finished product.


Once you’ve figured out how much you’ll need to budget for these five items you’ll have a general idea of what you should be setting aside for your album’s release. If the number is too high, you can decide which of these things you want to cut back on. Regardless, by having a plan figured out well in advance, you’ll be putting yourself in the driver’s seat, and giving yourself a much better chance of having your music heard.


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