Music distribution has changed completely. In just a few short years, streaming has become the outright leader in how we listen to music…
It’s also changed how you need to think about distributing your music.
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Releasing, streaming and selling your music online can be scary and confusing—Especially if you’re doing it all yourself… You need simple ways to share your sound with the world, keep control of your music and track your success.
Releasing is a big moment. There’s a lot of things to consider before you’re ready. This guide will take the frustration out of releasing, and help you share—and get paid—for your music in a way that makes sense. So you can get back to what really matters: Making more music. You’ll learn everything from tips to finish your projects to planning your release and monitoring your success.
Let’s get started!
Start with your best sound.
Smart music distribution starts with your best sound.
Release-ready means having music that stands up to other commercial releases and stands out in a sea of sound.
Achieving your distribution goals starts with mixing and mastering. They’re the most important steps before releasing. There’s some specific steps you need to follow to make sure your tracks are ready for release.
Here’s some helpful guides on how to get the perfect mixdown and follow the proper mastering steps for your project:
The 10 step distribution checklist
Now that you’ve got your best possible sound ready for distribution, it’s time to make sure the rest of your release is ready to go.
As long as you get a few key things in place, releasing will be as joyous as laying down that first chord—the way it should be! But knowing where to start, what you need and how to get it, isn’t always the easiest task to pull off.
This album releasing checklist will walk you through everything you need for a successful release—from album art to clearing your samples.
Figure out your album art
Your album art is still an essential part of your music. Finding an image that fits your sound can be tough. Don’t cut corners with your album art. Take time to find an artist or designer in your network, or learn how to make your own album cover. You’ll thank yourself later when your release is live on the major stores.
Follow these format guidelines to avoid headaches while you’re releasing:
•A perfect square
•Minimum 3000 x 3000 pixels
•Make sure there’s no blurriness or pixelation
•Don’t include URLs
•Leave out all social media logos
•No references to brands
•Absolutely no pornographic images
•Either JPG or PNG format
•Minimum 72 DPI
Pick your track titles and commit
Track titles make your music findable on the web—like digital music stores, blogs, or playlists. Take time to fill them out right.
Here’s some helpful dos and don’ts for titling:
• Include the release date
• Include the release format (like album or EP) in your track title
• Include genres in your track titles like ‘pop punk’ or ‘lo-fi house’
• Include artist names that aren’t performing on the release, like ‘Drake type beat’
• Spell everything correctly and spellcheck!
• Enter the track title exactly how you want it to appear in the stores
• Stick to the same formatting across an entire release
Pick your album title and commit
Pick a title that fits your project and represents your sound on its own—not whatever the trend is that week. You want your music to be timeless, so your title should be too.
Once you have your title picked, you need to consider the formatting. Your title should just be a title. The same guideline from above apply to your album title as well.
Remember, each online music store has their own style guidelines for titling. The iTunes Store Music Style Guide is a great reference to make sure your titles work.
Find your perfect genres and subgenres
Your main genre should be the one that best represents your music. Genres help music stores categorize your music and make it findable for your fans.
Your subgenres let you describe your sound a bit more in depth. Do your research when you’re picking subgenres. Dig into some of the niches that each store includes. Tag your music properly and find some new fans!
Include your collaborators!
Include everyone you worked with on your music. Collaboration is key for finding your best sound, so give credit where it’s due!
If you’re not sure if someone should be featured on your track or not, discuss it with your collaborators and make sure everyone has the same expectations and definition of “featured artist.”
Sort out your ISRCs
ISRCs are International Standard Recording Codes. Each code is 12 digits long and identifies things like country of release, and the year the ISRC was issued. They’re used to identify every unique recording in existence.
If you don’t alread have ISRC codes for your project LANDR will automatically generate them for you when you release. If you do have your own ISRCs already, you can use them with LANDR as well.
Is your release a single, EP or album?
Each digital store categorizes releases differently. Know how your release will appear before you start promoting.
Generally speaking, your release will appear as a Single if:
• There are one to three songs that are less than 10 minutes in length
Your release will appear as an EP if:
• There are one to three songs with one song at least 10 minutes long and a total running time of 30 minutes or less or;
• There are four to six songs with a total running time of 30 minutes or less
All other releases will appear as Albums.
Remember: each release type will appear in the stores automatically based on these criteria.
Is your release legal and are your samples cleared?
Releasing music with samples in it? Remember, the number 1 rule is: If you’re using samples of someone else’s music without their consent, it’s illegal.
However, not all samples need to be cleared, like royalty free sample packs. If your song does contain problematic samples, most distributors will contact you and your track will get taken down.
To avoid the hassle, make sure your project is clear of sampling and copyright issues before you try to release your music.
Do I have the right file formats?
Your music needs to sound great on every online music store, so you need to start with a file that’s at least 16-bit – 44.1kHz.
If your tracks aren’t 16-bit – 44.1kHz, you won’t be able to release them on the bigger online stores.
Start by exporting a high-quality WAV from your DAW and you’ll be all set for sharing, mastering, distribution and sounding great everywhere that matters.
MP3s are great for sharing your music with friends, or offering as a download to your fans. But they’re not accepted by most major digital music stores.
Start your release
That’s it! You’re done and ready to build your release with confidence! Enjoy the feeling of releasing your music right with no speed bumps or headaches—Just you, your music and your fans.
Need some more help?
We’re here for you. We’ve got an awesome team of audio engineers who are readily available to give LANDR Select members feedback and insight.
Write to LANDR support and include a bit of information about your tracks or releases, and we’ll help you get your music ready for mastering or releasing.