Today has been a day of looking at spreadsheets, adding meta data, uploading music and registering it all. Boring but the stuff I warned you about at the start. This is the really important blog about getting your music out onto Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Deezer and all the others and make some money from it. Check out all my previous blogs in this series on the Entangled page.
Now that everything is edited and mixed it is time to register all the pieces with PPL. If you aren’t already registered with PPL you need to be before you can carry on. You can register here. If you are just releasing your own work as a composer who doesn’t perform then just signup as a rights-holder. If you also perform on your work (this includes live electronics or conducting) then register as a performer as well. Think of PPL like the PRS for recording rightsholders and performers. The US equivelant is Sound Exchange.
Once you register with them make sure to ask for your label code. I don’t know why they don’t just supply it though… Once you get it make a note of it but you won’t need it just yet.
You will get an ISRC (International Standard Recording Code ) which is five letters unique to you which you will need for everything else. These five letters form the first part of a 13 digit code which links your recordings to you and enables royalties to flow your direction. The remaining seven digits are up to you to do with as you want but each one needs to be unique for each recording you release.
As an example this is how I code my work UKAQL1900005.
- UKAQL = the ISRC (use your own, not mine!)
- 19 = the year
- 00005 = 5th recording in the year
This means I could release 99999 recordings each year or almost 274 a day before running out of numbers. Which is NEVER going to happen.
I keep a spreadsheet of every piece I’ve completed. Each one has a unique catalogue number for my records (e.g. MW-0040 for concert music and MWM-0094 for media cues) along with the PRS registration, and ISRC, if released. The concert music page looks like this:
You can see I don’t have the PRS numbers yet for some of the works because they are too fresh (or I haven’t had a chance to update them) and most of the pieces have very precise durations but Rama doesn’t. Thats because the precise durations are of the actual recordings, Rama is going to be premièred in September by Ensemble Offspring so its just a rough prediction for concert length. Make sure all of your works are registered with your local collection society the moment you finish them!
Further along the spreadsheet is info on the performers (and their PPL numbers) along with dates of recording, date I registerd it with PPL, what album the work is on, album release date etc. You don’t need to see it but you get the idea.
Now that you have your ISRC and you know the lengths of your recordings you can register all your works with PPL. Here is PPL’s guide on what to do. But the form is a lot more intuative than it used to be but just takes time to do it. Most of the info you need is on the MU/BPI forms I mentioned before.
You’ve spent a few hours registering all the works that you are going to release and your done with PPL! Nope… One more registration to make. Whether you are releasing a single or an album you need to register it as a product to tell PPL how it will be distributed. You should also release singles from albums as seperate products as well.
Now thats PPL out of the way the next thing you should do is download MP3Tag. This is a really useful tool for editing the metadata of your recordings. Load up all the recordings into the application and get to editing the composer, artist, album etc etc info. In the comment section include your label code and each track’s ISRC.
The reason for this is that if you send a digital track to a journalist, radio station or music supervisor, all the info about the track will be in the track. Annoyingly .wavs can’t hold metadata in the same way MP3s can (so that you drag it into iTunes and all the info is there) but having it in the file info is a good start.
To get your music onto Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and all the other major streamers you will need to use an aggregator. There are loads of them around and all are slightly different. All work with the main western streamers but some have more options when it comes to Asia. Below are three:
CD Baby – This is who I use. They charge an upfront fee, single ($9.95) or an album ($49), and take a 9% cut of all of your digital income but don’t charge a yearly fee.
RouteNote – Has two distribution options. The first is completely free where they take 15% of your income or a similar model to Tunecore with $10 single, $20 EP, $30 album and $45 extended album and then $9.99 annually with you keeping all your income. If you use RouteNote use this link and I get a referal bonus. Thanks in advance if you do!
Tunecore – An upfront fee of $29.99 for albums and $9.99 for singles, they don’t take a cut of your income but they do charge an annual fee of $49.99 for album and $9.99 for singles.
You should also release your music on BandCamp. It is completely free to put but they take 15% of digital sales. They have options where customers can pay more if they want which is nice (I’ve found people do this quite a lot). However, BandCamp do not distribute to iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, Google Play etc. etc. so do this in addition to any other distribution.
None of the above work with the two classical specialise streamers – IDAGIO and Primephonic. However, IDAGIO offers a self submission service. They seem really friendly and easy to work with and I’m in the process of getting all my music up there.
If you are doing everything yourself and you want to sell physical copies on Amazon as well you will need to sign up to Amazon Marketplace.
All of the services have their own guidelines on how to submit your music and your artwork. Make sure to follow them or your release will be delayed.
This blog was written in two parts because Ive just been so busy. But it means that in the intervening days my album has gone through the system and is now available to pre-add here! I will talk about how to do that in the next blog.