As a musician, you want to get your music out to the world so that it can be heard by the masses. One great way to do just that is to sell your music on iTunes. Unfortunately, selling your music on one of the largest online audio and video retailers can be difficult it you do not know the right steps to take and what hurdles you must overcome.
Publishing Music without an Aggregator
It can be very hard to publish your music on iTunes without hiring an outside company, known as an aggregator. These professionals work with Apple, convert your songs into the correct format, and take care of all legal issues when it comes to publishing your music online. If you attempt to sell your music on iTunes without the assistance of an aggregator, it is still possible to do so as long as you meet the following conditions.
- You will need to have recorded at least 20 albums.
- You have to buy a UPC or Universal Product Code as well as an International Standard Recording Code for each track.
- You will need access to a Mac that is running the OS X 10.5.8 or later.
Choose from a List of Apple-Approved Aggregators
If you do not meet the above qualifications and choose to go the route of hiring an aggregator, you will want to go with a professional who has been approved by the Apple Corporation. There are hundreds of music distribution companies out there who claim that they can help you sell your music on iTunes, but you will get the best results if you choose to only work with those which have already been approved by Apple.
Some of the most popular Apple-friendly aggregators include Tunecore, CDBaby and Catapult. You can also find a number of other reliable aggregators that work with iTunes who may not be currently on Apple’s list such as Ditto, ReverbNation, ADED. US Music Distribution and RecordUnion just to name a few.
Consider the Price of Working with an Aggregator
An aggregator has to make their own money somehow so you can expect to pay out a fee for each track or album that you produce. Many will display their prices on their company websites. You can expect them to either charge you a flat rate fee or take a cut from your royalties, or both. Examples of upfront costs for aggregators are listed below.
- Individual songs: $10 to $15 per song
- Albums: $20 to $60 per album during the first year
Keep in mind that some companies will change artists an annual fee to keep your album on iTunes. This will typically cost anywhere from $40 to $50 annually.
Understand the Terms of Working with an Aggregator
When you work with an outside source to sell your music, you will need to prepare yourself to pay out fees. Your aggregator will take a percentage of sales and on top of that, Apple currently takes 30% of the revenue from each song that is sold on iTunes. This means that you may make an average of $0.70 per song, before your aggregator takes out their own fees.
It is a good idea to understand how an aggregator pays you and all the terms that go along with this process. An aggregator is a music distribution service. That means they publish your music on outlets such as iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud and dozens of other music services. For doing this, the aggregator is paid for each of your songs that are sold. They then send you a check for your share of the profits. Some aggregators pay on a monthly basis while others may pay weekly or bi-weekly. You can get more information by looking into different aggregator’s royalty reports to gain a better understanding of when you will get paid.
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Compare the Benefits of Each Company to find the Right One for You
Some companies will have low up-front fees and take a larger cut from your sales while others will charge you more up front and take less from each song purchase. It’s best to weigh the pros and cons of each company and find out which will provide you with the best profits and benefits in the long run before you make a final commitment.
Some aggregators may charge you an extra fee to put your music on a particular website, while others will charge you a flat rate for each album regardless of whether you put your music on iTunes, Spotify or any other online music retailer. It is a good idea to learn more about how the aggregator pays for pre-order options and if they will send you a statistics report that lets you see how your album or track is trending each day.
Choose the Aggregator that Fits Your Band’s Needs
here are many options out there for bands and musicians who are eager to get their music out to the public. One of the biggest decisions that you will have to make as a musician when it comes to putting your music online to sell is whether you want to pay an annual fee to your aggregator or allow them to take a percentage of your royalties. There are benefits and disadvantages to both situations. It is best to stop and think about which situation best suits your own personal needs or the needs of your band members. It is recommended that all new artists avoid annual fees because they are more likely to make a higher profit by paying out a cut of their royalties when first starting out in the business.
Upload Your Music and Album Artwork
Once you have hired the best aggregator for the job, it is time to upload your music and album artwork, send the files to the company and let them handle the rest of the work from that point forward. Typically it will take anywhere from one to four weeks to get your music up on iTunes. Be sure to send your aggregator the best quality sound files and high quality image files so that they can easily convert them to the correct format for iTunes. Some sites even offer custom album artwork if you do not have any at the time.
Some final thoughts to keep in mind, it is a good idea to wait 2 to 3 weeks to release your music to the public. The albums that are often featured on iTunes’ “New and Noteworthy” list are chosen by the iTunes staff members. Setting your release date for your album 2 or 3 weeks after you have distributed your music will give the iTunes staff members plenty of time to listen to your songs and possibly place them on the front page of the website.
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