How To Release An Album – The Definitive Checklist

1For almost any musician, releasing new music is essential to maintaining a career in music, but doing so correctly is important to said release being a success, and neglecting key administrative steps diminish the potential success of any release.


This is a guest post from Nick Rubright, the founder and CEO of Dozmia.

Releasing new music is an important part of maintaining your music career, but many musicians simply don’t know how to properly do this.  They’ll put together a few songs, record them, and distribute an album to iTunes, skipping important administrative steps.

Skipping these steps can cost you later on in your career, and you may miss out in some royalties.

For those just starting out, or releasing their first album, here are some things you should get taken care of as quickly as possible.

  1. Trademark your artist or band name

(1)The last thing you want is to discover that another band has the same name as you after you’ve released your first album.  If this happens, changing your band name and rebranding yourself can get expensive quickly.

To protect yourself from this, you want to check to see if your band name is taken.  If it isn’t, you want to trademark your band name to protect it as soon as possible to prevent others from using it.

  1. Copyright your songs

While it’s true that you own the copyright to your song once it’s made into a tangible form, you need to register your music with the copyright office to be able to leverage the courts.

If you need help understanding how to copyright music, it’s best to speak to a music attorney, but this is something that is simple to do yourself with little room for error.

  1. Affiliate with a Performance Rights Organization (PRO)

When businesses from restaurants to radio stations use your music, they pay public performance royalties through BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC.  Affiliating yourself with one of these organizations lets you get paid for these public performances.

To help you decide which PRO to affiliate with, check out this ASCAP vs. BMI comparison table.  If you’re already affiliated with a PRO, be sure to add the information of your newly released tracks.

  1. Register with SoundExchange

2While ASCAP and BMI pay songwriters for public performances of their music, SoundExchange pays for digital performances of recordings.  Registering your music with SoundExchange can help you earn royalties from digital music services like Pandora and iHeartRadio.

  1. License your cover songs

If you have any cover songs on your album, you need the mechanical rights to those songs before you can legally release the album.

Services like Easy Song Licensing can help you get the appropriate rights to a song so you can legally release it with your album.

  1. Get proper distribution

Many online services like TuneCore and CDBaby offer music distribution that can help you get your music into all of the major digital stores, but don’t forget to also upload your music to services like SoundCloud, Pandora, and Dozmia so your music is in as many places as possible.

  1. Add your album to SoundScan

SoundScan is a system operated by Nielsen that tracks sales of music and music videos in the United States and Canada.  You can add your new music here.

  1. Put together a marketing plan

Knowing how to promote your music is essential to music industry success.  If you want your new release to be successful, you can’t just put it out there and expect people to find it – you need to effectively promote it.  Blogger outreach, radio promotion, and social media are a few things that should be a part of your marketing plan.