The Music Marketer’s Guide to Pre-Save Campaigns

 

Promoting an upcoming release? Consider running a pre-save campaign! They allow you not only maximize your reach, but also increase hype!

Pre-save campaigns are dope, and they are very straight forward – a listener clicks your link, they are then taken to a landing page that prompts them to pre-save or pre-add your release, and the day your banger(s) drop, it is magically placed in a listener’s library, as well as the listener becoming a follower of your profile.

There are a ton of tools out there that you can use to set up a pre-save campaign, and it may seem daunting to just choose one. In this guide we will be walking you through on how to set one up as well as compare the different platforms available!


Creating a Pre-Save Campaign with Feature.fm

1. Sign up for Feature.fm and once you are signed in, on your “Welcome” tab, select “Create a Pre-Save Link”

2. You will then be taken to the “Link Creation” section in the pre-save link set up. To create your pre-save, we will first add the release date. This will let your fans know when your release will be available. 

3. Next, you will need your release’s URL. But since the track is not released yet, you will not have a link to paste into the “Scan Source”. You have a couple of options here – you can paste your UPC or ISRC code (ask your distributor for it) and Feature.fm will automatically scan for your track on release day. The other option is to leave this blank and manually enter your actual track link the day of. We recommend the first option.

With the free version of Feature.fm you can only set up one pre-save option (Spotify).

If you are looking to have Apple Music, Deezer + others, you will have to upgrade to at least the Artist Plan ($19 / month). 

4. In your “Link Settings” you can adjust your URL, title, image, and more, similar to how you would create a music smart link. Once you’ve adjusted your settings to your liking, you can then adjust your Social Icons and Social Cards. When you’re ready to launch, click “Save” at the top right of your screen, and you are all set! 

Similarly to traditional smart links, we recommend signing up for at least the Pro version of Feature.fm to unlock the capability of adding a Facebook Pixel to your Feature.fm pre-save link. This will allow you to capture valuable audience data to use for future retargeting campaigns and to create conversion ad campaigns in Business Manager. Feature.fm does properly track successful pre-saves, unlike ToneDen.


Creating a Pre-Save Campaign with HyperFollow

HyperFollow is by far the most common pre-save link we’ve seen used out there, and this is because of how easy it is to set up and use (DistroKid pretty much handles everything for you, which is also one of the reasons as to why it our favorite distributor).

One of HyperFollow’s biggest strengths is the fact that you are actually given the email address of every user that pre-saves your release, whereas other tools out there typically hide this from you or try to get you to pay to gain access to the emails they’ve captured. 

1. Sign up for DistroKid 

2. Upload your release (plan in advance – check out our release checklist here)

3. You’ll get your link after you confirm your release, but another place to locate it at is in your “Settings” (the gear icon)

4. Select “HyperFollow” and there you will see your latest HyperFollow link and previous ones (if applicable).

Note – if you don’t see your HyperFollow link just yet, it could take a couple of days or so to populate, but typically the process is quick. Also, keep in mind that it may take up to 24 hours for your pre-saves and emails to kick in once your release is live, so don’t freak out if you do not see things going out right away.


Creating a Pre-Save Campaign with Show.co

Referred to as “real music marketing” by themselves, Show.co is a platform that enables you to run ads on RollingStone and Pitchfork, run audio ads on Spotify and iHeart Radio, and (you guessed it) run Spotify pre-save campaigns. 

If you’re a CD Baby user, you’re in luck – you get this bad boy for free. We are huge believers in using what is native to your distributor before going out to try a new platform if you’ve never set up a pre-save campaign before, just to avoid any and all errors.

To get started –

  • Distribute your music (schedule your release 3 to 4 weeks from your upload date).
  • Sign up for Show.co (if using Cd Baby, sign up directly through your dashboard by clicking on the “Free Marketing Tools” link).
  • Log into Show.co and select “New Campaign” on the top right of your screen.
  • Click “Social Unlock” and for your “Type” select “Spotify Pre-Save”
  • For your “Identifier” CD Baby users will select “CD Baby UPC” (12 digit code specific to your released). Because of their partnership with Show.co they will automatically locate your URI for you. If you’re using a distributor other than CD Baby, you will need to select “URI” as your “Identifier” to create your campaign.
  • That’s it!


Creating a Pre-Save Campaign with SmartURL

Having quickly become one of our favorite smart link services out there, smartURL is another great option when it comes to creating a pre-save campaign.

The only thing we wish smartURL would allow is data collection (emails) from pre-saves without having to pay a whopping $49 per month. *To use smartURL for your pre-save campaign, you will need your Spotify URI for your release. If you do not have it, contact your distributor to give you the URI or follow these steps*

  • Sign up for smartURL
  • Select the “Pre-Save” option
  • Find the “Configure Pre-Save” section, and enter your artist name, as well as enter your “Spotify Product ID” (which is just your URI. You can also paste your artist URI for the “Artist Name” field)
  • Adjust your “Product Name” to properly list your release’s name as well as modify the “Product Release Date” and “Free Tier Release” to your actual release date
  • Go through the different customization options that tickle your fancy, and then you’re all set! Just be sure to click the “Save smartURL” button at the bottom of the page and view your masterpiece.


Best Practices For Pre-Save Campaigns

Now that we understand the mechanics of setting up a pre-save campaign, we’re going to give you some best practices for making it more successful.


Promote your new single or album, sure, but don’t be obnoxious

This is especially true for new bands without established, loyal fan bases.

A pre-save campaign is exciting to you, but it’s not that exciting to everyone else. It’s a tool to use for your most engaged and excited supporters and the curious, but it’s not good content.

Relentlessly spamming your artist profile’s feeds and personal feeds with ‘BIG HYPE: PRE-SAVE IS LIVE LET’S GET IT COME ON SMASH THAT BUTTON’ is a sure way to have your friends and even some fans smash that MUTE button instead. (More on better messaging below). Yes, push the pre-save, but do it sparingly. Save your audience’s tolerance for promotional posts for when you have something released, a music video to premiere, or a show to talk about. Pre-saves ain’t it.


Explain to fans what it is you’re doing and asking

Just because you understand this technology and process doesn’t mean your fans will. Even young fans may not know what on earth you’re trying to accomplish with a pre-save campaign. So explain it to them – what they should do, what they get from it, and what happens next.

One thing to note is that when you are asking a fan to pre-save, you are also asking for their email address. 

Not everyone is okay with this. 

Not to mention the amount of permissions your fans are giving to you and said pre-save service (which could lead to a negative experience).

The Truth About Pre-Saves

One of the biggest misconception about running pre-save campaigns is that they help artists land on editorial playlists and improve the chances of landing on algorithmic playlists. In theory, pre-saves should send some positive engagement signals to Spotify’s algorithm. 

Spotify’s positive engagement signals include:

  • Song saves ✅ 
  • Artist follows ✅ 
  • Streams ✅
  • + others

 

But – like anything else in the universe – there are negative engagement signals Spotify keeps track of as well.

Spotify’s negative engagement signals include:

  • Song skips ❌ 
  • Library removals/un-saves ❌
  • Un-follows 
  • + others

 

Let’s not forget that Spotify does not have a native pre-save option. All smart link/pre-save tools are created by third parties that use Spotify’s API to take actions on behalf of users who opt in to a pre-save on the desired date (usually day of release).

Because of this, there is 0 way for Spotify to actually see how many pre-saves you get for your release.

So the idea that “getting a lot of pre-saves will help land on editorial playlists” is false.

In fact – pre-saves could possibly even hurt you rather than help you.

 

Pre-Saves Allow fans to… 

  • Save the Song to their Library ✅
  • Follow the Artist Profile ✅

 

Pre-Saves allow artists to…

  • Create hype/Build Awareness ✅
  • Offer incentives ✅ 
  • Capture E-Mails/Pixel Data ✅

 

When a fan pre-saves your track, this is what happens on release day:

  • They save your song to their library ✅
  • They follow your artist profile ✅
  • And they stream your song (hopefully) ✅

 

But remember how we said that there are positive and negative engagement signals Spotify can receive from your pre-savers?

Here are four examples of what could happen on release day:

Fan A.. 

  • Saved the Song ✅
  • Followed You ✅ 
  • Library Stream✅ 
  • Release Radar Stream ✅

Engagement Signals Spotify Receives… 

  • 4 Positive ✅
  • 0 Negative ❌

Fan B.. 

  • Saved the Song ✅ 
  • Followed You ✅ 
  • Library Stream ❌ 
  • Release Radar Stream ❌

Engagement Signals Spotify Receives…  

  • 2 Positive ✅
  • 2 Negative ❌

Fan C.. 

  • Saved the Song ✅
  • Followed You ✅ 
  • Library Stream ✅  
  • Release Radar Stream ❌

Engagement Signals Spotify
Receives…  

  • 3 Positive ✅
  • 1 Negative ❌

Fan D (Follow for follows/begging friends to pre-save your track)..

  • Saved the Song ✅ 
  • Followed You ✅ 
  • Library Stream ❌ 
  • Release Radar Stream ❌
  • Unfollows you ❌
  • Unsaves your song ❌

Engagement Signals Spotify
Receives…  

  • 2 Positive ✅
  • 4 Negative ❌

All in all, pre-save campaigns are a piece of your overall marketing strategy, not the strategy itself. Relying solely on one marketing effort/tool is not the way to go. Here at simpl. we like to take the omni-channel approach with our marketing efforts (a fancy way of saying leveraging everything at your disposal to maximize your marketing). Make sure that the pre-saves you get are in fact genuine to avoid as many negative engagement signals as possible.


Lastly, don’t make it about you

People are inherently selfish and lazy. We like to be comfortable. We need reasons to do anything that even remotely resembles work – like clicking more things, or giving up an email address. 

“Do this pre-save thanks” is not a compelling argument. It’s just the imperative tense. Find a better message to accompany your posts about the pre-save (the mechanics of which we went over in our How to Reach Out to Music Bloggers and Curators article). 

If you’re too lazy to click that link (see?), here are a few ideas for your post messaging: 

“Be the first to hear our new single!” 

“A song about losing my brother, the most honest I’ve written – pre-save link live”

To be clear, great copy isn’t going to create a significant change in the number of pre-saves, but at least if you tell a story or give someone a reason they may feel less spammed.

Like anything, pre-saves are a tool and a component of your overall marketing strategy. 

If you’re looking to get your music heard or take your project to the next level we invite you to join our Academy – a step by step video series designed to walk you through creating (and monetizing) a fan base.