How to Get Your Music on iTunes
Back in the dark ages (the 90s) of Indie music, your music didn’t come out- it escaped! You had to record in some sort of professional studio, buy tape (or ADAT, Google it!), pay a company to print up CDs or tapes, and then— well, it was actually quite hard. Aside from getting on MTV or Radio, there weren’t many avenues to get your music out there. There was no YouTube, iTunes, or Facebook, so unless you were Fugazi or Ani Difranco doing a total DIY style release and/or touring constantly, your printed up records usually stayed in storage. However, the future is now! Musicians have a worldwide indie AND mainstream music store where anybody can sell their music. Keep reading to find out how:
RECORD YOUR MUSIC
As you will see in the next step, anybody can put any legal recorded music up on iTunes for sale. In other words you could record air on a micro-cassette recorder, convert it to MP3, and have it for sale all across the world in days. I do not recommend this! Since the whole world has access to iTunes, you are going to want to record music that will distinguish yourself. If you have the money, try to record in a professional music studio. If you want to record it yourself, consider tracking in your home studio and then taking it to a professional engineer to mix it. Regardless of where you record it, invest a little bit of money for a professional mastering engineer. If you are unfamiliar with Mastering, it is essentially the last step of the recording process where a fresh set of ears tweaks all the audio levels so that it can sound good on the radio as well as coming out of your iPod.
CHOOSE YOUR ONLINE DISTRIBUTOR
What’s funny is that Apple’s original plan was that iTunes would not be available to anybody and would only feature “quality artists” (read about this here: http://techcrunch.com/2010/11/11/cd-baby-founder-recounts-a-tale-of-steve-jobs-itunes-and-broken-promises/). However, now iTunes is pretty much open to anybody and there are several digital music distributors that can facilitate this. The two biggest companies doing this are TuneCore and CD Baby:
TuneCore is the largest—it distributes artists as diverse as Nine Inch Nails and Ziggy Marley as well as many unsigned bands. TuneCore charges $9.99 per single and $49.99 per album. TuneCore takes none of the money from the sale of your music. For the iTunes U.S. store, you receive $0.70 per song sold individually and $7.00 per album with 11 or more songs sold in its entirety. Your music typically appears on iTunes within 72 hours. For more info visit: http://www.tunecore.com/
CD Baby has been around longer than iTunes and was one of the first companies to offer bands cheap CD printing and distribution via their website. Times have changed and CD Baby is now the second largest digital music distributor. CD Baby handles distribution for $9.95 per single and $39 per album. On their website, they boast, “We keep 9% of the net income paid to us by our partners and you keep the rest.” To learn more about CD Baby check out: http://www.cdbaby.com
FINALIZE YOUR MATERIALS
You have your mastered song files, and have signed up for either TuneCore or CD Baby, and then you are ready to go. Follow the instructions of your distributor on how they want the files uploaded. You will need to come up with song titles, album or single names, and most importantly digital album artwork. Make sure you take some extra care to have your artwork look good because it will be displayed on everybody’s iPods and iPhones and can often set the mood nicely for the music. The last step is usually payment and then you will have to continuously check iTunes to see when it appears.
Good luck out there, fellow musicians. Make sure you only put up music that you feel shows the best side of your ability. Don’t just throw up something just because you crafted some songs. Now the hard part begins, getting people to buy your music! Look forward to a future installment on how to promote your music on iTunes. In the meantime, get uploading!