Distribute your music with these 7 important steps:
● Upload formatting
● ISRC, UPC, and EAN
● Cover art
● Artist name
● Album & track titles
● Release dates
Recognize that symbol? The ©? This is used to ensure a creator’s original works are protected. Anything you make yourself should be copyrighted – except sound recordings. So then why does it matter for your music? Because of your album art!
There’s also another, lesser-known symbol. That’s the ℗ symbol. For the most part, this can be thought of as the same thing as the copyright symbol but for sound recordings. This symbol means you created your music on your own, and therefore you are the copyright owner. However, if the recordings are purchased or owned by someone else, this symbol will refer to them. It is important for you to ensure you have the consent of the copyright owner to use any of their works!
Formatting is important – unless your audio files are in WAV format and under 200MB in size (16 bit, 44100 Hz), you won’t be able to upload them. WAV is a high-quality audio recording format that is required by most digital music services, including ours.
There are plenty of applications for converting to WAV if your files are in a different format. Try iTunes or this free audio converter tool.
ISRC, UPC, EAN
These three abbreviations represent information about your music. The tracks themselves – ISRC, albums – UPC and EAN. is for albums. ISRC stands for International Standard Recording Code, and it’s like a barcode for your tracks. This allows sales, streams, listens, etc. to be tracked and recorded for your music, which is crucial for getting your royalties. If you already have ISRCs for your music, you can go right ahead and use them. However, if you don’t, you can let Record Union generate them for you for free by leaving the ISRC field blank. Use the same ISRC for each song no matter where you’re selling or streaming it. It’s less complicated for you that way.
UPC, on the other hand, stands for Universal Product Code, while an EAN is your International Article Number. These uniquely identify a product, like an album, EP, or single. Use existing UPCs or EANs for your releases if you’ve got them, or let Record Union generate them for you if not.
You’re going to want to make sure your music is packaged nicely, right? Submit your album art in a high-resolution, square format, at least 1400x1400px but preferably even higher (say, 3000x3000px). Crystal clear is ideal, but if you’ve got a design that needs blur or pixelation, go for it! Make sure your album art is yours (or you own the copyright to it) and doesn’t contain any other logos, trademarked names or slogans, copyrighted content that you don’t own, or website links.
What should your cover art look like? It’s up to you! Keep it simple and take a photo of you with your band, or hire a graphic designer to give you something really slick. You can even just buy a photo from Shutterstock!
This is your name! Well, maybe not you personally, but your band name at least. No artist name yet? Do some research first before choosing – you might be surprised how many are taken.
Once your artist name is chosen, you’ll have to make sure to include all the other artists and contributors as well. That means your producer, lyricist, band members, mixer, featured artists, or any other talent who needs credit for their work.
Album & track titles
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Still, there are some features to be aware of – don’t include the words “album” or “EP” or “single” in your release titles. The distributor will have to decide on which of these your release qualifies as. For single-track releases, the track title must be identical to the release title. Titles should in one language only – no side-by-side language translations allowed. The track title field should not contain remixes, which should go in the title version field instead. You should also remove any file extension formats, such as .wav, and ordering numbers from your upload title.
With everything else done, you’re ready for the last step: picking a date for your release. Two weeks is the shortest time for release, so if you’re really ready, that’s all the time you’ll have to wait before popping the champagne. If you’re using Spotify for Artists to pitch and promote, it’s best to take a little longer, say 3-4 weeks.
Certain countries can be allowed or disallowed from receiving your release, customizable by you. Many artists have different record deals in different countries, so this allows for the artist to honor those deals.
That’s it, you’re done! It’s time to celebrate! No more administrative hurdles, and no more barriers to releasing your music. You can use your skills to sort out copyrights, file formats, song barcodes, and more. Of course, this stuff isn’t why you became a musician, and it’s not as exciting as seeing your track after it’s released. But these are necessary steps in the process to getting you the credit and payment you deserve for your hard work. The roller coaster ride of creating and releasing your music has finally finished!