music industry advice: 26 things to do before you release your song or album

Music Industry Advice: 26 Things to do Before You Release Your Song or Album

8. Pick Your Distribution Company
To get your song in iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Deezer, Google Play and 90-plus other stores and streaming services worldwide, you need a distribution company. The top digital distribution companies (for indie artists) in the world are currently CD Baby, DistroKid and TuneCore. I keep an updated comparison on a bunch of these companies at If you want to go one step deeper, you can start a record label and apply to work with a bigger distribution company like INgrooves, The Orchard or Believe Digital. These distributors work only with labels, but they can offer more personal attention and benefits than the open-to-everyone distributors can.

9. Get a Licensing Company
If you’re interested in getting your music in TV shows, commercials, movies, video games and trailers, you’ll want to get a licensing company. You can download a great guide from the Music Business Registry that has contact information for nearly every publisher and licensing company out there. You can find the Publisher Registry at:

10. Create the Folder of Assets
You will need to access assets regularly leading up to your release and directly following it. Make sure you create a folder that either lives on your Desktop (or in your Dropbox/Cloud) that contains:
• Text doc of all lyrics.
• Wavs of every song (including instrumentals).
• 320kbps (metadata tagged) mp3’s of every song (including instrumentals).
• High-res album cover (at least 3,000 pixels x 3,000 pixels).
• High-res album cover without text (to use for posters).
• Stems (for remixes). These are isolated vocals, drums, bass, guitar tracks.
• Print-ready promo photos (300dpi, no larger than 10mb in size).
• Web versions of promo photos (74dpi, around 1mb in size).
• Merch designs.
• Album press release.
• Text doc with album credits (break these down by song).
• Short and long bios.
• Promotional materials like poster, flyer and advertising designs.
• Demos.
• Music videos.
• Behind-the-scenes videos.
• Text doc containing login information to all your sites and links you will need to reference frequently (, SoundCloud, Spotify, Bandcamp, PledgeMusic, iTunes, etc.).

11. Get New Photos
You should build up a network of photographers in your city. You can never have enough high-quality photos. Every release is a new beginning. It’s a time to update and enhance your image. To rebrand, if necessary. Photos give your audience the first impression of the music. People will judge your project based on the artwork and photography before they choose to listen to the music. So your photos should have the same vibe and energy of your release. Make sure your photographer listens to the new music. And make sure the photos you release alongside the new music make sense. You need to wear an outfit conducive to the new sound. John Mayer moved to Montana to write his albums Born and Raised and Paradise Valley. The photos were taken in Montana and were indicative of his new direction. Your new album needs a story. And those photos need to match the story. Pick your top 10 (edited) photos and include them in your Folder of Assets. Pick your top three and use these for all initial press and promo. You can roll out the other seven in time with new videos, singles, tours and shows.

12. Write a New Bio
Your bio is your story. It is the single most important piece of your release—next to the music, of course. It should reveal why people should care about you. What sets you apart? Why are you unique? And more specifically, what is the album’s story? With this in mind, you can craft your bio. Many outlets will copy and paste your bio for their needs. Make sure you have three bios, a long one, a short one (one or two paragraphs, definitely under 500 words) and an elevator pitch. Make sure every bio includes pronunciation of the name. Your bio should be written in the third person.

13. Write a New Press Release
This is different from your bio and doesn’t need to be posted anywhere online. You will send this directly to media outlets.

14. Make a List of Blogs to Contact
Not every style of music works with music blogs. Many of the top music blogs are listed on Search similar (current) artists to see how often they are written about (if ever) on these blogs. Make a list of those blogs with contact information and submission guidelines. Most blogs specifically list how to submit music. Make sure you follow their guidelines. You can also submit to blogs on

15. Create the Videos
Every song you release should have an accompanying video on YouTube. It doesn’t need to be a high priced music video, but it should have a video component. There are inexpensive apps out there that can easily create lyric videos for you. Make sure the videos fit the vibe of the song and the project.

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