Episode #070: How Leah is Preparing For Her Album Launch


After completing her highly successful crowdfunding campaign where she raised $83,000+ in in 30 days, the work was actually just beginning. Leah still had to release her album, and there were still two more phases to doing this successfully. After crowdfunding—which is Phase 1—she still to do a pre-order launch and then the actual launch or album release. In this episode of the Savvy Musician Show, Leah and C.J. discuss the details of how Leah is going about the next two phases of her Ancient Winter album launch. A lot of great tips in this episode!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The 3 phases of an album launch
  • How long is the pre-order period?
  • Making money before the album release
  • Incentives for pre-orders
  • Leah’s pre-order bundles
  • The power of scarcity and urgency
  • The advantage of using print-on-demand
  • Giveaways and discounts


Any kind of promotion I run with built-in scarcity, built in urgency.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:09:10]

“It takes this level of creativity and planning and forethought to do this kind of revenue.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:11:32]

“Let’s say I do a video or a photo and it just gets really good engagement that I wasn’t expecting, I can then use that and turn it into an ad.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:15:04]

“Organic social paid ads, especially Facebook and Instagram ads are what I’m focusing on. And email, email, email.” — @LEAHthemusic [0:17:03]

“technical things to the unlearned can appear as magical or witchcraft but I can assure you it isn’t.” — @MetalMotivation [0:19:54]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Leah’s Crowdfunding Page (Limited time) — http://ancientwinter.com

FREE Planning Tool — https://savvymusicianacademy.com/tribe/resources/

Call Savvy Musician Academy —   www.callsma.com

Colin Caetano (Student Spotlight) — https://www.facebook.com/colincayvz/

Click For Full Transcript

00:22 CJ: Welcome to the savvy musician show this a CJ Ortiz on the branding mindset coach here at the savvy musician Academy. Joined once again by, let’s see, what will I call her today? Princess Leah. She reins the marketing galaxy. Leah, how you doing?

00:41 Leah: Doing wonderful, thank you. How are you? 

00:44 CJ: I’m wonderful. It’s good to see you. 

00:46 Leah: Nice to see you since an hour ago. 

00:48 CJ: Yeah, right? I don’t know if we can or can’t do the recording of the banter that we have before and after and in between these podcasts. But it’s our, it’s our chance to put off the business hat sometimes and just kind of catch up on other stuff. So anyway, I’m excited about this episode today because we’re kind of, in a way, Leah, continuing what we talked about in the past three episodes. You got in-depth into the crowdfunding stuff, but still, after the crowdfunding, there comes the actual album launch and the preparation that you go through for the actual album launch is extensive in and of itself. So I’m excited about the fact that you’re going to break some of that down today for we get into that. Let me just share this real quick.

A student spotlight, this is from one of our TOM students and TOM is The Online Musician program. Collin Caetano, and he writes, “win, over two years it took me to get lead costs to stay this low consistently. This means I’m finally getting to know my audience aesthetic and what they like and want to see from me much better. 63 cents a lead over seven days. I’m super stoked about this. Ready to split test my landing page to raise my conversion rate and then split test ads to get lead costs even lower. Couldn’t have done this without SMA”.

02:18 Leah: That’s awesome. Colin, I know you’ve been working really hard for a really long time, so I love hearing about your progress.

02:25 CJ: When I read something like this and the jargon which you and I know very well, I think of the people out there listening to this podcast with some of that probably sounded like Greek.

02:35 Leah: Yeah. Like what? What split test? What?

02:37 CJ: Split tests, landing page, conversion rates, what is all that stuff? Well, you’d have to listen to every podcast we’ve ever, done. 

02:44 Leah: Yeah. You know, we should do an episode where I just explained some of these terms. That would probably be useful. 

02:50 CJ: We’ll call the glossary episode. 

02:53 Leah: Yeah. Well you know, it would be really informative because there are so many different terms and names for different things. I think it’s is a good idea. So we’ll write that one down.

03:06 CJ: Yeah. Yeah. I think that would be helpful for a lot of people. But short answer is Colin is making some progress at getting the money he’s spending on his advertising in order to get people to get on a list or what have you, is getting cheaper and cheaper per conversion. So he’s spending a bunch of money to reach a bunch of people and however many people respond, that gives them an average rate of what he spending, you know, his cost per conversion and he’s getting those lower. And so again, with something like the TOM program, Leah, people are learning how to get out there and start promoting themselves and learning even more how to keep their costs down in doing that. So that’s a real bonus. Very happy for you Colin. Well Leah, preparing for your album launch every time we unpack some of these things, I know you could go on for days in-depth and so we’re not going to do another three-part episode, but we may spend a couple episodes talking a little bit more about your album launch. But first of all, how is that going?

04:07 Leah: Well, it’s going really well. The last few episodes we recorded, my crowdfunding campaign was just wrapping up and yeah, we wrapped up around just over the $83,500 and something mark. So I was really happy with that, especially being that it was an eight-song holiday album, something different from what I normally do and I wasn’t sure how my fans would receive it. So what we do know is that it didn’t matter what platform I was on because I did just a little over that amount the last time. And I did that one on IndieGoGo. We talked about platforms, we talked about all of those kinds of pros and cons in the last episodes. Now is when all the work kind of begins. So that was all the heavy promotion and marketing. Now is the followup, all the fulfillment of these orders and preparing for a very busy crazy fourth quarter of the year.

And the reason it’s so busy is the way I’m doing launches is I’m not just doing a crowdfunding launch that’s best basically launch number one. Launch number two is the pre-order phase before the actual album launch, which in my case will be November 15th. So launch number two is the pre-order launch, which how is it different than crowdfunding? Well, I’m basically going to have everything in stock at my warehouse. I’ll also come out with some different products. I’ll go a little more in detail about that as we move into this section a little more in-depth, but launch number three is essentially the actual album launch. It’s available everywhere. People don’t have to wait for it anymore. It’s out. Then after that, because of the timing of this album launch on November 15th right. What else? What’s the big thing that happens in November? Well, in the US here you have Thanksgiving and that is the big kickoff to Black Friday, and so one thing I wasn’t really thinking of too much earlier in the year when I plan my album launch by was how close to Black Friday my album launch really is, and now that it’s set in stone, I have to take all of that into account as well.

I have to take into account Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the holidays leading basically all the way up to the end of the year. And that’s why I want to talk in this episode about how I’m preparing for my pre-launch and actual album launch. That’s kind of launch two and three. And then after that, the next episode I want to talk about specifically more what I’m doing for the holiday sales. I want to split it up because it is so much, there’s so much going on. So that’s kind of where we can begin.

06:41 CJ: Yeah, pre-launch pre-order. It’s all happening before the actual album is released, which again, you said about November 15th so we’re getting close to that. That’s just over a month.

06:53 Leah: Yeah, that’s right. So if people are wondering how long is my pre-order pre-launch period, it’s just two weeks. So November 1st will be the beginning. It’s a Friday. It’s going to be the beginning of my pre-order time. So the first thing you have to think about when doing some kind of a pre-order, whether it’s a crowdfunding campaign, because some people just do crowdfunding campaigns and then do these, do the actual album launch, no one says you have to do a pre-launch, but I like to do this, I like to maximize this. The fact is that there’s money to be made in a pre-order right before the actual launch. And so the question you have to ask is what can you offer, what kind of incentive can you offer to make someone want to buy the album before the actual launch date that’s different from maybe a crowdfunding campaign and different from the actual album launch? What can you offer? 

So there’s really only a couple options in my case. And you can be as creative as you want with this. In my case, it will be either access to some kind of bonus or something that they can’t get in the future or some kind of a discount on either select items or whatever you want to bundle or something. And I’m actually gonna do both in my pre-launch. So for the two week period, it’s going to be, I have a surplus of autographed digipacks, so physical CDs that I didn’t sell during the crowdfunding launch, and so that’s a perfect opportunity to sell the rest of those because they’re limited. So what’s nice is, because this is a two week period of time, I’ve got built-in scarcity, which speaks to the quantity of items and I’ve got built-in urgency, which speaks to the length of time that something is available.

So I have found over and over and over again with my audience, and this could be true for your audience, it could be true for even just the music audience in general, I haven’t proven this yet, but at least with my audience that anything, any kind of promotion I run with built-in scarcity, built-in urgency. True urgency and scarcity tend to work very well. So limited runs of things, limited number of items of things, limited time they can get something tends to work very well with my audience. It tends to work well with, I think probably general audiences in marketing all over the world. But at least in the music world, I have found this to be true. So I am trying to be as creative as I can in this two week pre-launch time period. So, I’m going to offer whatever, however many autographed packs I have leftover, which may be at 500 of them or whatever it is.

And then I will probably offer some kind of a small discount on certain items or bundles that we’re going to offer that weren’t offered in the crowdfunding campaign. So we have to come up with all new stuff. So that’s another thing. This is why we have modules in our Superfan System Elite on how to do print-on-demand. Which apps to use would, how to do this all on Shopify, blah, blah, blah. Because you need to be able to put things up fairly quickly and get it out there. Also, send yourself samples of some of these items. Make sure that quality assurance and make sure you like it. You also want to take photos of yourself and all these kinds of things that help sell the product. So that’s another thing I’m doing. And the third thing I’m doing, which will really help incentivize to get people on my email list during, well, before this pre-launch period and during the pre-launch period is I’m going to do a giveaway.

So it’s like enter, you know, get on my email list and you will get early access to limited edition items. You’re going to get access to a percentage off and you’ll be entered to win a bundle, like a high dollar amount and fun bundle. So it’s really worth it for them to do it and then they’re going to get blasted with emails. And that’s the other thing, you know, I mean I can talk about this all day about how we don’t email enough, but anyway, this is a lot of information I’m giving. This is normally the kind of information I would reserve even for our Elite students, but I really want to tell you guys, anybody who’s listening, it takes this level of creativity and planning and forethought to do this kind of revenue. It really does. And I just want to give you real-world examples of exactly what I’m doing, not so you can go out and just copy and paste it.

You can’t. My audience is not your audience. You can’t just copy and paste what I’m doing. I want it to infuse you with principles that you can take and go, oh, okay, so what I need to be thinking about, it’s not, oh, well what’re the items Leah is doing? Or what are her design looks? Oh, well, who’s the person who did her lyric video? Can I get the name? Instead of thinking about that, I want you to think about, oh, she talked about urgency and scarcity. What do the concepts look like and what does it mean for me if I were to go do this? How can I use scarcity and urgency in my pre-launch, in my crowdfunding campaigns? That will make you way more money than trying to copy exactly what I’m doing.

12:25 CJ: And that’s, I think, an important note because people do kind of get fixated on some of these details, which are important, we’re not saying those things are not important, but the things that are going to really convert are going to be the scarcity and urgency. That’s just direct marketing, guys. That’s just the way it works. You might be uncomfortable with it now, you can get used to it. You will become more comfortable. Now, Leah, which do you feel is your better source for marketing? Is it going to be your social media? Is it going to be your email? You mentioned email and really ramping it up in this. Again, this is a two week period, right? You said, so this is very limited, so there’s not a lot of time for data gathering and that sort of thing. You have to kind of go for the jugular, so to speak, during that period. So I know you’re going to be firing on all fronts. Which one do you feel like is gonna pull the most for you?

13:20 Leah: Well, because my campaign ended a couple of weeks ago and I’ve got basically a month here in between the next big campaign, which is the pre-order campaign, two week period, I am already building my list. You know, a bunch of people will unsubscribe when you’re doing a campaign like crowdfunding cause I’m sending so many emails, totally normal, par for the course, get over it, it doesn’t offend me, but I’m building my email list. Some people might want to resubscribe so I start showing them ads now, “hey get on the early bird list. You’re going to get all these benefits. Here are all the benefits and what it’s going to do for you.” And this is another skill that I really want to infuse people with, the principle of thinking about what is in it for them because nobody cares about me. They only care about themselves, what’s in it for them.

So I lead with what’s in it for them. You’re going to get this, you’re going to get that. So I’m already kind of rebuilding my email list a little bit. Not that I lost so many people, but it’s just a fact like a certain percentage of people unsubscribe normally. So I’m in the time between then and the next big launch from launch two and three I’m reinforcing my email list. And then when it comes time to launch that campaign, it will be a mixture. Then basically my big three is organic social, paid traffic and email list. Those are my big, like my trifecta of marketing, so I always, I always use organic social media and that will never go away. What’s cool is that if you see something that’s worked really well in organic social media, like let’s say I do a video or a photo and it just gets really good engagement that I wasn’t expecting, I can then use that and turn it into an ad.

When you know how to do these sorts of things, it’s really easy. You can turn it into an ad. I can go into my ad manager, find the post and it’s not like boosting a post it all. It’s a completely different thing, but I can turn it into an ad and make it very targeted. I can show it to my email list, I can show it to a, could show it to new people, but typically during a launch, I’m not looking to bring in new people. I’m looking to market to the people I’ve already built, the audience I’ve already acquired and they’ve been following me for a while now and especially moving into the holiday sales season, November and December. I am not trying to build my email list at that point with new people. I am strictly marketing to people that are already following me and I’ll know who I am.

It’s far too expensive in those months and so you’ll see it. I mean they are the most competitive advertising months of the entire year. That means you know, Coca Cola and all the big brands and all the big people, all your competitors, even the labels and stuff, a lot of these big companies have ad budgets and they are required to spend those ad budgets and when it gets to the end of the year, they actually have to blow out the rest of their ad budget. Believe it or not, they actually do. They don’t just save it, they actually spend it and so they’re spending it all at the end of the year. Plus we all know that’s the biggest commerce time of the year. That’s when people are pulling out their wallets and credit cards everywhere to buy Christmas gifts and just all of this stuff. So it is so competitive. It will be the most expensive time of the year. You don’t want to be spending all your money on cold audiences, on people who don’t know who you are. This is the time to capitalize on all your hard work and that you’ve been doing all year long and real in all of these warm audiences. And it’s time to show your ads and organic posts and emails to them. So that’s my trifecta. Organic social paid ads, especially Facebook and Instagram ads are what I’m focusing on. And email, email, email.

17:12 CJ: So are the ads that you’re running, both organic and paid, are they driving people to an opt-in or are they driving people to the actual preorder offer?

17:23 Leah: So when I go to do my pre-order, during that phase, we’ll probably have a couple of different campaigns going. I will have one trying to just notify all my fancy people following me on my page, people who follow me on Instagram, hey, you can still join. The early-bird list, pretty much until the day before the big launch. But I’ll also be showing people who are on my list who have been tagged as they’re on the early bird list, I’m going to show those exact people, not only emails, not only social posts, I’m going to show them ads. So that I’m top of mind during this period. So this gets a little bit techie, a little bit ninja, but there is something called dynamic custom audiences. And all that means is that when somebody joins my email list, because of the type of software I use and because of their capabilities, I can sync that specific audience.

So the early bird list, I can sync it with Facebook and say, Facebook, every time someone joins my early bird list, I want you to add that name to a specific small little audience and only those people, nobody else except these people who joined that list. And then I want you to show those people my ads, these specific ads that I’ve written. So that’s pretty awesome. If that just went completely over your head, you have no idea what I’m talking about, just know that you’re not alone. It is a little bit techie and it’s something that you will eventually learn to do in the future if you decide to ever work with us. This is the stuff that you will learn. And if you’re just like, oh, I’m so not a techie person, just know that I’m not either. I really am not. You just learn the stuff, you’ve got to learn to make it work and, and when there’s money on the other side of it, it becomes pretty fun pretty quick.

19:19 CJ: Yeah. And that’s a reason to be in the Elite program I think, because it does get, you know, people think that somebody had said in one of our team meetings recently that a record label couldn’t figure out what you were doing and the success you were having, and use the term actually will then it must be witchcraft. Of course. We, we have heard mostly on our own channels here. Well, it must be a scam or it must be this. It must be that. No, ladies and gentlemen, it is technical. Okay. So yeah, I mean technical things to the unlearned can appear as magical or witchcraft but I can assure you it isn’t. Now you mentioned two other phases to this.

20:04 Leah: Yeah. So then there’s the actual album launch and it’s now out, it’s available everywhere. Go buy it, go stream, blah blah blah. I really don’t like to, but on that one day and like what happens in that first or second week, I want to pretend like that day doesn’t exist. I want to work as hard as I can during my crowdfunding campaign and my pre-launch, as though my life depends on it, launch like nobody’s going to buy anything on that day and that way that just puts me in the right frame of mind that might the right headspace, and then there are a percentage of people who just do hold out until launch day. For some reason there is this percentage of people, but I try to make it juicy enough and attractive enough and incentivized enough that most people I’m hoping would buy stuff beforehand during the crowdfunding and during and during the prelaunch and if I’ve done well there, I know I’ve done a good job because at the end of the day there is going to be a large amount of people who buy on the day or the first week that it’s out.

And even after all this, there’s still going to be a fragment and a segment of people who didn’t even know you had a new album out like even a month later. Like they somehow did not get the memo. They didn’t get the emails. They didn’t, I mean just recently I saw, I had a Facebook post and someone just said, “oh my goodness, you have a new album coming out soon. I had no idea”. I’m like where the heck were you? And just because even with paid ads, even with organic, somehow still people aren’t seeing it. And this is why I want you to stop worrying about bugging people too much cause I promise you they’re not seeing it as much as you think they are. They’re not even seeing a fraction of what you’re putting out there so you can relax and do way more than you are and not worry about offending people.

22:11 CJ: So you’ve got a pre-order, you’ve got the actual launch, right, well, back up to the crowdfunding, pre-order the actual launch. Now we’re into just an open cart so to speak. We’re just, you can buy it as is at any time. There’s no more scarcity or urgency. Then at that point,

22:30 Leah: Well I do have some things in place.

22:32 CJ: I’m going to say it unless there’s something else here.

22:36 Leah: I do have something up my sleeve, but I can’t talk about it yet. I will. We will do maybe in a couple episodes from now because I can’t let the secret out. I can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet, but what I will tell you, here’s what I can say; I can tell you that the other thing I’ve discovered about maximizing sales is to not show your hand of cards all at once. So don’t do it during a crowdfunding campaign. Don’t do it during a launch, meaning always have something else that you’re going to bring out that people don’t know about just yet. So even if just one item, I have something up my sleeve that my fans don’t know about yet and I’m not, I haven’t determined exactly when I’m bringing it out. I might actually start it during the pre-orders just because I don’t know how it’s going to go and I really don’t know what to expect cause I’ve never offered anything like this or I might save certain things for later.

I haven’t fully determined it yet, but this is what I know is like people love new. If I offer the same during my album launch on November 15th that I offered her my crowdfunding campaign math, it’s old news. They’ve already seen it, they’re over it. I gotta have something new. So what I can tell you is there will be, for example, during the pre-launch, I will have a dedicated page to just an Ancient Winter collection. That’s the name of my album, Ancient Winter, there’ll be a collection of new stuff that they didn’t see before. So there will be a new t-shirt design that wasn’t offered in the previous campaign. There will be some mugs and like a hat and there will be some things that are offered that were not offered before. And then, like I said, I have a secret item that I can’t talk about yet, but stay tuned, you’ll hear about it.

I have a lot to say. So I think the important thing is keep them guessing, keep them on their toes, plan far enough ahead that you realize, okay, well what else could I do that would delight my fans? That’s a really important question. What can I do? 

I mean, if, if you’re in any business, how can I delight my customers? I asked myself that last year when we were done travelling and I was doing the Quest launch, my last album launch. And for example, the digital download, I put an Easter egg video in the zip file that they got with all of these different song files and formats. Something they weren’t expecting. It was a personalized thank-you video kind of coming from the heart and I didn’t tell them it was going to be in there. And just small little gestures like that, create an experience. Small little gestures like that will delight your fans and make you really memorable and make them want to support you and create a kind of loyalty that you would never even imagine. Things like that.

25:31 CJ: Well, yeah, and you know, I can back up from this and look at the whole thing and just see the overall approach. There is so much obvious technique, method and tools being used here, but it all stems from that. You know, the person, the artist and that artist’s connection with his or her audience. And so you can do that ladies and gentlemen, you can achieve these very same things. Yes, there’s a lot to learn on the technical side, but that’s the easy part because you can have all those things in place and if you don’t have the good music, if you don’t have the relationship with your fans, if you don’t know what you’re about, if you don’t know who you’re targeting, if you don’t know the message of the culture and all these sorts of things, all the tools in the world and are not going to make it work. So you need both. And so that’s again something you can get at the Elite Academy, but you wanted to offer them something kind of cool today. Why don’t you tell them about that?

26:30 Leah: Yeah. So, I know so many of you have album launches coming up or you’re in the middle of one or you’re thinking about doing your next crowdfunding campaign. I get a lot of questions about the tools that I use and there’s one simple one that I used to pretty much plan everything. And I’m looking at it right now. We use it in Savvy Musician Academy and I use it specifically for album launches, and all my holiday planning, all of this stuff. And I made a tutorial, just a little walkthrough showing you how I use the tool for album launches, for crowdfunding, what kind of stuff is in this tool and just how I kind of map it and plan it out. And you can watch that walkthrough. It’s only 15 minutes long. And if you want to use the tool, there’s a link there. I don’t get paid for it or anything. I just want to be able to help you guys out. You can go to savvymusicianacademy.com/planningtool. So we’ll put that in the show notes. You can go get it there or just type it in your browser. And let me know if you liked it because I’m pretty sure this will be useful and maybe fascinating to you and maybe this is something you’ll incorporate.

27:39 CJ: Awesome. Thank you, Leah. Now guys, do us a favour, go right now from this podcast, go to your player and be sure to leave a review for this show. If they have the offer of stars, give us as many stars as you can possibly click on, but then again, write out a review. We’d love to hear from you. If you’re in any one of our groups, that free mastermind group or the student group for TOM or Elite group, please go into those groups, leave your comments and questions there about the podcast. We read all of your testimonies and comments and we love to share them in our team meetings so they’re huge encouragement to us to leave a review on the podcast today and uh, Leah, I think that’s it. Thank you so much.

28:24 Leah: You’re welcome. See you guys next time. 

Leah McHenry

It's become my absolute obsession to find out what will make musicians successful today. In the face of many obstacles, and in the vast sea of the internet, we have an opportunity that has NEVER been available to us in the history of the music business.