The content you need to send your music to Spotify, Apple Music, and more.
As an independent music artist, deciding to finally release your music to the world is an exciting moment! The below steps will allow you to not go into this process blindly. Knowing what you exactly need to make sure your music release can be digitally distributed to Digital Service Providers (DSPs) such as Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, and Amazon Music properly, is of great significance.
You will need these assets to start your process to a career in selling and streaming digital music. Please note that these steps are generalized. Some True Independent Digital Distributors (TIDD) such as TuneCore and CD Baby may have slightly different specifics. Now lets get into the process from getting your music out of the studio and to the universe!
The content you need to digitally release your music to the masses has a fancy name entitled Metadata. This is the information embedded in an audio file that is used to identify the content.
Step 1 — The Release Date: You want to choose a release date at least 6 weeks out from the time you submit your metadata information to your chosen True Independent Digital Distributor. Why so much lead time? This will give the professionals working at the TIDD enough time to possibly pitch your music for promotional placement and playlist consideration at the DSPs. Some TIDDs can get your product up within 24/48 hours, but the only reason you should have a “rush release” of this nature is if some huge marketing opportunity falls into your lap i.e. Kylie Jenner shouts out your track on Twitter. In this rare case, you better start to get a move on it!
Step 2 — Gather your metadata information:
- Label Name — Do you have your own record label? If not, you can use your Artist Name in this section.
- Artist Name — This is what the consumer will know you as artistically.
- What Format: Single (1 track), Extended Play aka EP (4–6 tracks), or Long Play aka LP (7+ tracks).
- Product Title — The name of your single, EP, or LP.
- Track Titles — The names of the tracks in your EP or LP.
- Main Genre — Hip Hop, R&B, Pop, Rock, etc.; choose the best genre that fits your music.
- Copyright Company — This is the owner of your music (probably you at this stage).
- Publishing Company — This is the owner of your Publishing Rights (again probably you at this stage).
- Track Order (if the release is not a single) — You will need to know the order of the tracks on your EP or LP.
- Featured Artists — If you have any featured artists on your tracks, please list them appropriately.
- Music Preview Time(s) per each track — You can choose where the preview of your track(s) start on the DSPs such as iTunes and Amazon. You want the consumer to preview the most powerful parts of your song(s), and YOU can control this.
- Parental Advisory (Y or N) — Don’t forget to do this, especially if your music is full of expletives. The last thing you need is a determined mother telling the world to ban your music!
Step 3 — Master your Audio
In order for your music to be distributed to the DSP’s via your TIDD, you are going to need Mastered Audio WAV Files with the specs: 44.1 KHz Stereo WAV file in 16 bit or 24 bit. Your mastering engineer should provide these files to you. If you do not have a mastering engineer, you can use a site such as Landr.com that can automatically master your music for commercial use for a small fee.
Step 4 — The Cover Art
How do you want your consumer to see your music? The Cover Art of a music release should tell the story of your masterpiece. You can be as creative as you want, but make sure that the Graphic Designer you hire for the Artwork understands your vision and can provide you with these Cover Art specs: 1500 by 1500 size, 300 dpi, JPG format, Less than 15mb, and RBG color format. If you do not have a Graphic Designer, head over to fiverr.com to locate your visionary for a small fee.
- Now that you have your metadata content, you will be set to release your music with your chosen TIDD. Please note that your TIDD will provide automated ISRC Codes for your tracks and a UPC Code for your EP or LP. If you want to create them yourself, do this step prior to any other, and keep in mind it’s going to cost you some funds. For more info on obtaining them yourself, click here: ISRC Codes and click here: UPC Codes.