How to DIY Your Next Album Release
Once upon a time, you had to have a label to release an album. How else would a band cover the astronomical costs of distributing and promoting their music? How would the songs ever get heard without the big-name leverage to earn them airplay on the Top 40 radio stations?
But it’s a new era now. One that has brought considerable challenges to anyone who wishes to make a living as a musician, sure, but along with those challenges have come benefits, too. One of those benefits is that today, anyone can release an album independently, and it doesn’t have to cost your life’s savings.
What is the Best Way to Release An Album in 2016?
If you have a few hundred dollars, you can definitely release an album online. The first step is getting the songs recorded and ready to go. Only you can can decide how much money you want to invest in actually recording your album. Having it professionally produced won’t be cheap, but you can always cut corners by recording the tracks yourself and then having them professionally mastered — which will likely cost you around $10-$40 per song. You can find great mastering for cheap on Fiverr.com, particularly from our friend Michael7878.
If you have the necessary skills, of course you can do the mastering yourself, too. Just don’t skimp on this step. There’s no point in going through the trouble to release your own album if it sounds muddy and unprofessional. That said it’s always important and useful to have another pair of ears on a project. If you’ve never had your music mixed or mastered by someone, you’d be amazed at the new perspective someone else’s ear can provide.
Once your album is finished, you’ll need to get it out there for people to listen to. Look online for companies like CDBaby and Tunecore to handle your digital distribution. Your digital music distributor or artist aggregator will supply your music to online stores and streaming services — this is how to sell your music on iTunes, for example. The price model varies by distributor, so you’ll have to do some careful price comparison. Some will charge a flat, upfront fee; others will charge annually or take an ongoing percentage of your sales. Some are a mix of the three.
The turnaround time is usually quite fast with these digital distributors. Within a few days to a few weeks, the music you submitted will be streaming on the most popular sites like Spotify, Pandora and Tidal, and available for purchase on services such as iTunes and Amazon MP3. Your digital distributor will track the money you make, and you can periodically “withdraw” your sales from their website.
DIY Artist Music Distribution Sevices Compared
Digital Distribution Services
|MondoTunes.com||Digital Distribution, Mastering, Promotion||Unmited Uploads starting at $39.99 per year.|
|CDBaby.com||Digital Distribution, Physical Distribution, Websites, Promotion, Merch||$9.99 for singles, $89 for full albums|
|Tunecore.com||Digital Distribution, Mastering, Promotion, physiccal copy production||Albums are $29.99 for first year and $49.99 each following year. Singles are $9.99 per year.|
|OneRPM.com||Digital Distribution, Youtube Services, Video Prodouction, Promotion||Free – $30 per album, or $15 per single|
|SymphonicDistribution.com||Digital Distribution, Youtube Services, Video Prodouction, Promotion||$10.99-$39.99 for 1-20 songs|
Protect Your Rights
Keep in mind that you will sign a contract with your digital distributor or artist aggregator. This will give them the rights to your music, which is necessary for them to sell and distribute your music. However, if you plan to sign with a label someday, this could cause you a headache. It’s best to look for contracts that allow termination at any time which many smaller labels offer. It’s also smart to register your music compositions and sound recordings with the United States Copyright Office to protect your intellectual property or an organization like ASCAP who’s primary function is to protect the rights of artists, performers and composers.
Once you’ve completed your album, chosen a distributor and handled the legal issues, you’re well on your way to getting your music into the ears of your new potential fans. Next up: album promotion and networking with other musicians. Also don’t forget to hit up our music practice studios for some rehearsal before you head to the studio.