The Ultimate Guide To Request Store Features

LabelEngine Articles, Help, Tips, Updates

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is “How do i get my track featured on beatport/iTunes/amazon/insert other major stores here?” and before we even get started discussing this topic, let me start by saying, no distributor or label can guarantee you a feature. If they tell you that they would be lying and thats a company you don’t want to work with.

However, there are a lot of steps you can take to put your release and artist in a position of high probabilities of success. Most features are curated by humans and they reward effort just as much as the quality of the music. If you thought having a great track was merit enough, remember that every week thousands upon thousands of tracks are released and you need to prove why you deserve that spot over all the others. Thats the mentality you need to have!

Music is very similar to sports, it is highly competitive and only the ones willing to become the best succeed, whether at an artist or a label level. Think of your label for what it is, a small business that requires additional work to make sure the product you are selling (Your Music) has the best chances be seen by the right people (music fans).

Lets break down the Ultimate Guide to request store features:

 

1) What is the process like to get a feature? A look “inside” the actual process.

As a label or distributor, you are appointed by stores an “Account Manager”, his/her job is to be the middle man between you and the other teams within the company, whether it is for marketing, deliveries, legal situations and copyright control. In simple words, they take care of you and help you with any issues or requests.

All stores have different ways to process feature requests (Stores actually call them Priority Releases), most however, have an application process that allow us to submit on behalf of the labels any information relevant for them to consider your release for priority placement. Those applications are then grabbed by the account manager and used as ammunition to discuss it with the marketing team to try to secure the best placements for the content owners they represent.

If release X has been supported by “DJ Big Name” and it is on radio rotation on BBC Radio One, plus it has a clear plan for blogs and magazines to review the release and link back to the store, why would they pick release Y which was not supported by any DJs, no radio support and no social media or marketing plan over it?

It is very important to note, the marketing team has the final say on what gets featured or not and the application form grants you higher chances of getting featured but they could (and often do) select releases that didn’t necessarily send in an application, they could already be familiar with how well a label or an artist sells and that plays a part on their decision sometimes as well.

If you are a new label or artist, preparing ahead of time and showing stores you are making an effort to promote the release in your own way is definitely the best way to get on their radar. There is only so many spots available every week, you know.

It is very hard to be featured every single time, specially if you have several releases per month so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the feature you were hoping for. Some weeks you will have tougher competition than others and in the worst case scenario, the fact that you actually put that marketing plan together will help you sell more copies, get more streams or help your brand get more recognition. Features should be seen as an added bonus, not as a sort of “make or break” situation for your record label.

Recap:

Labels/Artists create marketing plan > submit information to distributor > distributor sends the application to the account manager or marketing team > they review it and decide

 

2) Ok so i have a good plan, good music and good support. What is the best way to get it in the hands of the right people? Any tips?

At Label Engine we have an integrated form you can fill out with all the relevant information so we can pass it along to the right people, those forms are only available after you submit your release for distribution and it will only show stores based on their minimum ahead time required by them. We also have an “open door” policy, so you can email us ahead of time to figure out the best plan of attack.

One of the issues we face quiet often is that we get incomplete forms, missing parts of the application that are important or they include the good ole “This is going to be a hit!” note on it. The first step you need to take is to make sure all information is filled out, any incomplete forms can not be submitted as requested by stores. Remember, you don’t have to convince us, we already believe your music is really good, you need to convince stores why you deserve it ahead of other great tracks.

Now, here are some tips:

a) Focus on the store that matters to you: Although you can send requests to various stores at once, i always recommend new labels and artists to focus on the store they believe is the best bet for their music.

For example, Beatport is very keen on DJ support and social media marketing while Spotify is more interested on radio support and tour information. Understanding what stores look for can help you better prepare and therefor improve your chances.

b) Make sure you get started early: Start your marketing plan at least 6 to 8 weeks prior to the release of your music. We know in a digital music era that may seem like a lot but you have to have in consideration the process stores go through to prepare ahead of time, they can’t select features the day before they go live or expect them to go out of their way to feature you after the release is live. For the most part, these are big companies that run a tight ship, they need to prepare way ahead of time to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Having plenty of leading time will allow you to collect proper DJ feedback, see if a radio station might put the song on rotation and negotiate dates and reviews with magazines/blogs.

For example, Beatport requires all feature requests are sent to them (alongside the release) a minimum of 3 weeks prior to the release date while iTunes requires those submissions are sent in at least 4 weeks in advance.

c) Make sure everything in relation to your release is quality: By that we mean make sure the music is up to par (mastering, mixing, levels etc etc), make sure your cover artwork looks professional and if you have a description included, make sure that it is written properly.

Think about it from their perspective, how would it look to fans if they gave a banner feature to a release that has a cover that looks like it was made on paint? stylistically speaking, that would not be very appealing.

d) Get rid of the “my track is better than that other label’s track so i deserve it more” mentality: Don’t focus on what others are getting and focus on how you can improve day by day. The great thing about music is that there are styles for everybody, just because you like something it doesn’t mean others will as well, same goes for music you don’t like.

The important thing here is that you continue to improve and you get the experience needed to make sure the label continues to meet its goals. If you didn’t get it this time, get them next time then, don’t beat yourself with a stick!

 

3) The tips are great and all but can you give me specifics in regards to the stores? What do they want and what is the right way to include it?

Although stores can vary on the style of music they feature or some of the stats they look into to make a decision, most do have some “general” fields that are important across all platforms. This could be used to build upon so feel free to add to it based on your marketing strategy.

– DJ/Radio Feedback: This one has been around for awhile and has always been used as an early indication on how much buzz there is around the song.

If you are a Electronic Dance Music focused label, you may have been sending promos for as long as you can remember. The key is to make sure you get as many recognizable names to either leave some feedback or play your song on their radio show/podcast. Select up to 10 of the best quotes you received, try to avoid the “copy and paste” messages some of the bigger DJ’s assistants send like “Downloaded, will let you know if DJ Big Name supports” as those won’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things.

If your label releases more of a mainstream style of music, you know Radio support is your bread and butter. Include information of what radio stations will have the track on rotation, whether it is terrestrial or online and if it is not on rotation, at least note when it will be.

– Social Media Marketing: This is basically to answer the question on how you plan to drive traffic to that specific store and what is the potential reach of your social media network.

We live in a social media world and it is one of the best and most affordable platforms for you to use to promote your music. From a store perspective, they want to know how many potential buyers you will be driving to their store to buy your new track and how do you plan to do it.

The first thing you want to include is your social stats, how many facebook followers do you have? how about twitter, soundcloud, youtube, instagram, vine, etc etc? You want to enter specific numbers, don’t send a link to your pages, they won’t always have the time to check for themselves. Not only include the stats of the artist but also of the label and remixers, will other members of the team or other artists also share that release? that all should be noted.

For example:

DJ One
Facebook: 1,600
Soundcloud: 1,230
Twitter: 2,300
Youtube: 3,000
Instagram: 540

Label One
Facebook: 4,500
Soundcloud: 3,700

Remixer One
Facebook: 3,000
Soundcloud: 4,000
Twitter: 1,230

Label Owner (Cross promotion)
Facebook: 3,400
Soundcloud: 6,700
Twitter: 4,678

Total Reach: 39,878

Your stats should reflect a total reach amount, that helps stores understand and recognize the potential traffic you could bring. It is very important you work on your social media presence as much as possible. By the way, we wrote an article about Social Media that you might find useful here

– Magazine/Blog reviews: Physical magazines still carry a certain amount of cache in the industry, if your music is ever featured or reviewed on DJMag, Mixmag, XXL, Rolling Stone, Billboard or any of the similar ones it automatically takes your brand to a new level. If you are a new label or artist, getting those contacts could prove to be difficult but there are plenty of online blogs that can still make a significant impact on your release.

If a magazine or blog liked your release and has agreed to publish a review on their site, be sure to point that out. Include the outlet and date of the publishing.

If you lack the contacts or the time to handle this but have a decent budget available for releases, we recommend seeking the help of a good and reputable PR (Public Relations) company.

– Additional: Additional information you can add if you have it available are Tour Information, Mailing List subscribers, Beatport followers, Spotify plays average, past charting positions and past sales information (How well has past releases sold). Feel free to add any other information not listed here that you feel is relevant to the promotion of the release.

 

4) Can you list some of the stores’ leading time requirements?

Yes, yes i can. These are the leading times you need to make sure to follow for your application to be considered.

– Beatport: 3 weeks prior to the release date
– iTunes/Apple Music: 4 weeks prior to the release date
– Spotify: 2 weeks prior to the release date
– Juno: 2 weeks prior to the release date
– Rdio: The Wednesday, one week before the release date
– Traxsource: 2 Weeks prior to the release date
– Amazon: 2 weeks prior to the release date
– Google Play: 4 weeks prior to the release date

Some of the streaming sites like Spotify and Rdio have different procedures for singles than they do for EPs or Albums. Singles are only considered for possible inclusion in their playlists and we pitch those weekly automatically.

 

We hope this article is of help to you, whether you are an established act or an up and comer, proper preparation is key to your success so don’t be afraid to put on your work clothes and get dirty. If you are a Label Engine distributed label, remember that all tools like promotion, accounting, demo management and soundcloud/youtube integration are available to you for FREE so take advantage of them!

For Distribution information please visit http://label-engine.com/record_label_distribution.php or drop us an email to support(at)label-engine.com