Today it is easier than ever to release a track, EP, or album without the backing of a major label. Independent artists have the power to determine exactly where, how, and when they want to debut music content. However, as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. In order to make the most of every track, it is key to strategize a plan to release music like a pro. Here’s how:
Choose The Right Songs
Before you can release music, you must first take the time to determine what specific track(s) your upcoming project will include. Keep in mind, the music you choose must speak for itself and be compelling enough for an audience to tune into. Take the time and a strategic approach to pick the right song(s) for your next release. Depending on your goals as an independent creator, you will use a different strategy whether you are releasing a single, EP, or album. Check it out:
- Singles– If you are a new artist looking to establish a fan base or a seasoned musician looking to build anticipation for a larger project in-the-works, releasing your music as a single is a great strategy to warm up your audience. When selecting which single to release, be sure it’s strong enough to stand on its own and catchy enough to leave listeners wanting to come back for more.
- EPs– If your goal as an artist is to release multiple songs in a short amount of time, then an EP is the best option for you. EPs provide a great snapshot of the music you are making at the moment. They are less expensive and more palatable than a full album. When releasing an EP, keep in mind that variety is key! Unlike a single or album that is cohesive in nature, EPs offer more flexibility to show off your range as an indie artist in a short sequence of tracks.
- Albums– Once you’ve established yourself as an artist with a loyal and growing fan base, you will be ready to release a full album. Albums take more time, strategy and should tell a story, however, often they have a longer life cycle than a single or EP.
Get It Up To Spec
In order to release music to major streaming platforms, you will need to make sure your content meets certain technical requirements. Streaming platforms focus on four main factors to ensure a seamless listening experience for their users. For efficient distribution, review and make it a point to meet the following specs:
- Audio Files- Streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify will only accept high-quality audio files. When releasing music, save your final tracks as high-quality .wav files (minimum 24-bit).
Video Files: Similar to audio content, if you are releasing a music video you will want to save it as a high-definition .mov or .mp4 file type.
- Artwork- Streaming platforms require a digital album, EP, or single artwork cover for every music upload. Be sure to submit artwork that is at least 1400 x 1400 pixels, however, the ideal size is 3000 x 3000 pixels.
- ISRCs & UPCs- In order to get paid for your music, you will need to secure both an ISRC and a UPC. An ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is the “globally recognized standard numbering system for audio and music video recordings”. They make it possible for streaming platforms to properly identify, track, and distribute royalties for individual songs. UPCs (Universal Product Codes) work the same way, however, they track on an album level.
If you are unsure if your content is “release-ready”, the Vydia platform is designed to set you up for success. Our audio and video distribution workflows have validation checks in place to make sure any content that is delivered is up to industry standards. Similarly, if you are missing an ISRC or UPC, Vydia’s technology will generate one for you.
Prepare For Playlisting
The power of playlists continues to dominate as one of the main ways people discover new music. If playlist placement is one of your main goals for your next single, consider the following editing tricks to make your music more playlist-friendly before you release music:
- Song Length Matters- Consider your audience’s attention span when creating your next song. Extended song intros and outros can deter certain listeners who are inclined to “Skip”. Try to keep both under 15 seconds for maximum results. You should also aim to keep songs under 4 minutes in total.
- Structure Your Song Accordingly- In order to make any playlist, you will need to get your audience past the initial 30-second mark. You’ll want to keep your content short and to the point. To capture attention, begin each song with a strong main hook or chorus that lets your audience know what it’s about.
- Keep It Clean- Playlists need to appeal to a wide variety of audiences, so be sure to limit explicit or suggestive language on singles you want to get picked up. Consider releasing a clean and explicit version of your music.
Select the Right Distributor
In most cases, in order to release your music to major streaming platforms, you will need to go through an independent distributor to do so. Many distributors focus on either releasing audio or video content, however, Vydia has developed an all-in-one platform to streamline both processes. From Vydia’s centralized platform you can efficiently manage:
- Audio & Video Supply Chain– From upload to distribution, streamline content and metadata ingestion to ensure it meets partner specifications.
- Global Distribution Simplified- Deliver content to the world’s leading audio and video platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, Vevo, and more.
- Advanced Rights Management– Manage complex ownership splits and set policies to ensure your content is protected across the web.
- Royalty Payments- Designate splits and pay multiple parties with ease. Vydia’s automated payment system will distribute funds accordingly to ensure everyone gets paid their share of earnings.
- Data & Tracking- Stay on top of the metrics that matter most anytime, anywhere with direct access to performance and revenue analytics from your desktop or mobile device.
If you’re not currently on the Vydia platform, you can request an invite here.
Timing is Everything
Now that your music is set up to standard and your distributor is ready to go, it’s time to strategize exactly when you want your music to go live. The traditional “release schedule” concept is quickly becoming a process of the past as streaming opens a door of opportunity for creators to release music whenever and wherever they want. Make sure your music doesn’t get lost in the noise by following this strategy:
- Share Singles First- If you are preparing to release a full album or EP, you will want to drop a single first to build anticipation and learnings for the upcoming larger work. Now more than ever, singles play a major role in how audiences listen to music. Listening habits have vastly changed leaving today’s listeners less inclined to check out other tracks by the same artist when they stumble upon a song they like. Utilize your single release to educate you about top-performing countries, cities and fan demographics.
- Keep a Constant Stream of Content- As a creator, you will want to constantly and consistently release new content to stay relevant and keep your audience engaged. You don’t want to go too long (between 4-8 weeks) without giving your fans something new to consume. Keep in mind, new content doesn’t always need to be in the form of a single. You can also release remixes, acoustic/live versions, covers, lyric videos, or official videos.
- Consider the Charts- Fridays have become a standard in the music industry as one of the best days to premiere new music. Major music charts like Billboard track sales from Friday to Thursday each week, so a song or album released on a Friday has the advantage of being included in algorithmic playlists and tracked for all seven days of the weekly cycle.
For more tips and tricks about how to power your independent music career, check out our weekly blogs.