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Releasing Your Product

Our advice to releasing your own product covers copyright and rights agencies, physical distribution, digital releases, technical issues and music videos.

Last updated: 24 October 2023

Checklist to releasing your music or product

  • Check copyright — make sure you know who owns the copyright as you may need a licence to release your product
  • Register with rights agencies — if you want to receive full royalties and ensure that your sales are properly reflected in the charts, register with a collection society such as PRS for Music or PPL.
  • Invest in unique identifiers — this could be a unique catalogue number, barcode and ISRC Code, and should be considered for any vinyl, CD or download that you wish to sell.
  • Distribution is crucial — for physical releases, ensure you employ the services of a decent distributor.
  • Promote your work.

Physical music distribution

A good starting point is to check which company is performing this function for the independent music releases or labels that you like.

Try to target the people at traditional distributors who deal with the style of music you produce. You should show that you are proactive in promoting your music and building your fan base — support your approach with any press or reviews you have received.

Online distribution of physical releases often goes hand-in-hand with simultaneous download distribution (see digital releases below).

Digital releases

Many self-released artists find that they can get their music stocked by iTunes, Amazon and other services without the support of a record label and keep a bigger piece of the pie.

As digital platforms do not generally deal with artists directly, aggregators such as CD Baby and TuneCore are an ideal go-between. These companies provide a one-stop service that enables artists to upload their music to a single point, then have it distributed to the major online music stores as well as more minor players.

Find our review of the terms and conditions of six of the most popular aggregator digital music distributors to help musicians understand what they do and the business model they use.

Technical issues

You will need a barcode/UPC and an ISRC code for every track/single recording. In addition to your music, you will need to provide information — or metadata — about it. This varies from company to company and by genre, but you should think of it as the modern version of the copy on the label of a vinyl record or CD.

The metadata you are required to supply may include the artist name, title, writer, label name and copyright details, plus the details of the conductor and any soloists. Consider recording quality too, as intermediary services will block poor quality recordings (those that include hissing, distortion or low levels) and require that cover art be supplied in a particular format, at a set image quality.

Digital distribution tips

  • When choosing an aggregation service, check for cancellation fees and notice periods. There should be no lock-in period.
  • Plan ahead. It can take up to six weeks for your music release to appear on services such as iTunes.
  • Seek out specialist download sites. For example, Beatport specifically distributes dance music.
  • Provide exclusive mixes or tracks to the top download stores, to encourage them to feature your release. If you can, consider providing iTunes with enhanced artwork.

Creating music videos

Inspiration and upload details can be found at YouTube. For information about uploading and copyright, please see Getting started on YouTube and Copyright on YouTube.

With all user-generated content sites you need to ensure that, as well as adhering to the sites’ terms and conditions, you own the copyright in the video (including other copyrights, such as the sound recording, music and lyrics of the song, as well as the film) or have been granted the rights before you upload any content.

As with all aspects of music performance and production, the MU advises getting agreements in writing with group members and all participants. It's also a good idea to get permission from any public building you use as a backdrop before you film.

If you have a recording contract videos will be covered in this.

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