Timing is everything when it comes to picking a release date for your indie album. There are some definite no-go times for album release - you can read more about those in When Is The Worst Time To Release an Indie Album - but about the ideal times to get your indie album out to the people?
The answer depends a lot on your final goals. If you don't think you'll be getting much press or radio for your release, then by all means, get it out there whenever the getting is good. If you're going to marketing directly to your fans - and if you've got a good online presence with a strong network fans - then go for it whenever suits you.
However, if your plan is to go for radio plays, reviews, good in-store placement of physical product, and more, then you need to play the game when the odds are in your favor. Here are some dates to circle on your calendar for your indie album release:
Fall: College coming back into session can be a great thing for many indie musicians. That's because the college live circuit and college radio are such friendly grounds for independent artists. Now, be aware that everyone knows this, so this time of year can bring a glut of indie releases. However, if you're got a bit of a track record and fan base, this time of year can be an excellent time to take things to the next level.
January and February: At this time year, the majors are cooling their heels after their holiday season push. To an indie musician, that means there is far less competition for reviews and radio plays. Although in early January you may be dancing around people's post-holiday vacation schedules, overall, this is a good time to grab the attention of music journalists and radio folks who need some music to cover. Just be aware that as soon as early March rolls around, the focus shifts to SXSW for many, so stick to this window pretty tightly.
Summer: Want to make a splash at college radio? Think summer. No, not every station shuts down over the summer break. In fact, the stations that stay operational are often the ones that give you the most bang for your buck in terms of radio plays. Release schedules slow down in the summer, so these stations are looking for something to play. You can hit the CMJ charts much easier during the summer, which means big things for you when you're trying to launch a new album.
OK, so what happens if you just CAN'T release your album during these times of year, but you really need to get press and radio? Well, first, start by asking yourself WHY you have to release it then. If you're doing it because you're itching to get it out there and you're tired of sitting on the music, I get it. That's an understandable reason, but honestly, it's not a very good one. Your music deserves the best shot you can give it, so consider assuaging your urges by leaking a track on your website or something like that.
Now, if you really MUST release it, well, don't sweat it. It can be done. Just makes sure you've got some kind of anchor, like a tour. "Band releases album" is never going to be the most exciting story every told - that story gets told day in and day out, so it's not going to help you rise to the top of the media pile. Link that release into something else, so that the press has a reason to cover what you're doing.
Need more help selecting an album release date? Check out Five Things To Consider When Choosing Your Album Release Date.