How do I release my music?
How do I release my music?
One of the most popular questions new producers ask is 'How do I release my music?' or 'How can I release my music?' There are some great answers to this question here in this guide. We give you the right information so you can make the best decision and get your music published everywhere in just a few days time!
So, you're a new producer with some great music, all you need now are some listeners! To get listeners and fans you need have your music hosted by a popular music service. Somewhere they can listen to your music on their computer, tablet or phone like Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube.
You want your music to be accessible by people globally.
Luckily, nowadays there are many ways to release your music and some of them allow you to upload your music within a short space of time. If you want to know how to release your own music we've got you covered!
Release your music to gain followers and fans by following these steps.
There are two main ways of releasing your music. Firstly, independently, this means you will release the music yourself without the help of a record label. Secondly, you can find a record label who will release your music and help you promote it. They both come with considerable pros and cons.
Independent Release Pros
This method is suitable for business-minded artists who have a talent for marketing and entrepreneurship and a lot of free time. We're not going to lie, this is a lot of work for one musician and it's the right route for everyone. If you can handle the workload you might reap bigger rewards and at least have the peace of mind that you're 100% in control.
Keep 100% ownership and rights - You don't share ownership of your music with anyone else.
Full control of your career - You are responsible for your own success
You keep the cash - You will make more money from your music sales and streams as an independent artist.
Non-restricting - You make the decisions as and when you please.
You control the release - You can release the music and delete it whenever you want.
Control your image - You can choose your own artwork, music videos and graphics.
Overall, if you think you have a big enough fan base, marketing know-how and the ability to grow your presence as an artist this is a good route to take. You'll reap the most rewards in the long-run if you manage to stay independent and you can always change your mind at any point. The biggest downside is that an established record label will have a bigger audience, more promotional power and more knowhow.
Independent Release Cons
This method is suitable for artists who want to spend more time in the studio and less time promoting. In exchange they are happy to release some of their ownership rights and ultimately the money they make. It's certainly worth approaching your favourite record labels either way and seeing if they are interested in your music.
Remember rejection is normal and 99.9% of demos and approaches to labels will be rejected. If you are rejected try and find out why, this might help you. If you never get accepted then work on releasing independently.
Brand support - A good record label with an established brand with give you extra kudos
Limited Reach - Generally, independent artists will have less potential reach than an established record label.
You're on your own - You will be responsible for everything including all your financials, funding music production and the release.
You're not part of a community - A record label can be like a community of artists who help each other.
No legal help - A good record label would represent you in the case of anyone infringing your copyright.
You may not have the contacts needed - A good record label will have marketing knowhow and contacts that can benefit you.
Diversity of skills - Established record labels will have large teams with individuals who specialise in different aspects of the music business like marketing, PR or legal skills.
If you're not particularly business savvy, not good at marketing or you have no fan base we would recommend that you try and find a suitable record label to partner with. If you're rejected by the labels your approach then you will need to self-release as an independent artist after all.
How do I release my music independently?
There are a few ways of releasing your music as an independent artist but first decide if you want to go down the normal route or the DJ route.
DJ Release Route
This is specific to music producers who want their music to be on consumer platforms like Spotify and Apple music but also want the track to be available on websites designed for DJs including Beatport and DJ City.
Professional DJs prefer to download the track as a MP3, WAV or AIFF format and sometimes a FLAC. You can't download these formats on Spotify and streaming platforms designed for consumers.
DJs download rather than stream because they want higher quality files for DJ performance and also because not every DJ booth has an internet connection for streaming. If you want your music to be played by DJs in clubs you'll need to make sure your distributor is sending your music to these more specialist websites.
Some platforms designed for independent releases like DistroKid will enable your music to be listed on Beatport but there are many other DJ websites they will miss out. It's best therefore to use a distributor like Labelworx who distribute to DJ-specific platforms where DJs will find and download your music alongside all the usual streaming platforms.
The downside of using a distributor like Labelworx is that you often have to give them a sizeable percentage of all revenue, somewhere in the region of 30%. It's also a bit harder to set up and learn the back-end system for uploading your music. It's just not very user friendly.
In addition to using Distrokid or Labelworx, I highly recommend that independent artists use Bandcamp. Bandcamp is a website where musicians can upload and sell their own music while keeping most of the revenue. You can also sell merchandise and physical copies through Bandcamp.
If you've created a record label and want to release your music via your own record label and on Beatport.com consider using their Hype service to help you become more visible on the website.
Normal Release Route
If you just want your music to be heard by consumers you just need it to be available on all the major streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and Tidal. There are actually many many more but these are some of the biggest.
The best way to release on these streaming platforms is DistroKid. This website will allow you to upload your music at a relatively low cost. They won't take any of your earnings and instead will charge you a nominal subscription fee. There are other alternatives like Ditto Music and they have a 30-day free trial.
These systems are very user-friendly and make uploading your music very easy. They will also give you statistic and insights to help you monitor your success and audiences. Overall this is the easiest option to release your music quickly, efficiently and with little cost all while retaining your ownership.
You'll have to keep paying their annual fee in order to keep your music available on these profiles.
How do I promote my music independently?
So, you've chosen a distributor and set a release date. The next massive hurdle is how do you promote your release as an independent artist? Artists who work with record labels will have a lot of help when it comes to marketing their music but if you're an independent artist you are on your own.
Don't panic! There are very sensible things you can to promote your music and many of them don't cost a thing. Click the link below for some ideas and create your own release plan.
How do I release my music with a record label?
If you don't fancy going it alone then the best solution is to release with a record label. You'll be giving up some ownership, rights and money in exchange for help distributing and marketing the music. If the record label is established this is a much easier path for any artist but there are risks. Labels will make you sign contracts that have serious legal obligations and might tie you into long-term commitments. Make sure you get a music lawyer to read any contract before signing or ask Musicians Union for help.
If you're looking for a label to release with try look at which labels your favourite musicians release with. Labels will generally stick to specific styles or genres of music so if your favourite artists are making the same kind of music as you this is the best starting point. Realise it might have taken them years to get to that point but it's still worth reaching out to these labels.
Another great resource is Label Radar. Label Radar is website where you can search labels and submit demos. It certainly makes the process easier and works for smaller record labels but none of the bigger names.
To be released on one of the big three label conglomerates or one of their imprints you often need to know someone working there. Make sure you go to networking events and find ways to connect with these people.
Labels are pretty lazy and often sign artists who are already seeing some success on their own. Make sure that before you approach them you're already doing well online and have an established online presence and clear USP. They will want to also see consistency, stick to one style of music.
The Big Three Labels
Universal Music Group
Warner Music Group
How to submit a demo to a record label
Wondering how do I release my music with a record label? Once you have found a record label you'll want to submit your demo in a professional way. Firstly, make sure you have everything prepared.
- Private Soundcloud link to the track which is just for them
- Profesional Artwork
- EPK (Electronic Press Kit) containing your biography, discography, press photos, videos, links etc
- An introduction paragraph on why you think their label would suit you best and why you think they should sign you. What's your USP?
Once you've got all these materials you'll need to find a way of contacting the person responsible for listening to demos. The lazy way would be to email them or send them a message on social media. This would almost always get zero results. If you want results you'll need to make a personal connection. Try calling them or visiting their offices to find out who to contact. If you can talk to them in person then even better.
Failing this you can try mailing a demo in the post. You can perhaps put all your materials on a USB and make it eye catching. It's much harder for them to ignore something physical arriving in the mail vs a boring email. Make sure you stand out.
The best thing is to build some kind of relationship with people at the label. Try attending their events, supporting their label and making yourself known. They would be much more likely to help someone who visibly supports and is involved with their brand.
If you get rejected, chill, it's totally normal to be rejected. Just try some other labels or learn how to start your own record label.
When I'm asked the question 'How do I release my music' by my students I like to impress on them the importance of branding and business entrepreneurship. Nowadays the labels do less and the artist does more. Even if you want to get signed by a label they want artists that are already successful and developed. You won't get any attention unless you've already proved some success and that you're gaining momentum. This is why it's important to perfect your music, brand and marketing before evening thinking about approaching a label. Once you've established these stay consistent and then approach labels.
However, even after all that work it's most likely you'll be rejected so working on your own business skills is vital! Don't bet on a record label working on you. You can do it yourself anyway!