17369 4

What’s the most exciting thing about putting out new music? Planning the album release party? Booking a tour? Shooting a music video? Capturing great band photos? Launching a PR campaign and lining up reviews and interviews?

Sure, sure. That’s where all the glory is. But there’s some other stuff you need to do —paperwork, basically — that is equally important when it comes to building and sustaining a life in music.

I know, filling out web forms and managing files isn’t fun, but you’ve worked hard to get your music ready for release; why WOULDN’T you want to do everything you can to make it a success?

So plant yourself in front of a computer for a couple hours a night, put on some tunes, and I’ll see you in a week. Don’t worry. This will all be over soon.

10 boring things you should absolutely do before you release new music

  1. Register your copyrights

    You own the copyright to your music the minute it’s set down in a fixed format (sheet music, scribbled on a napkin, recorded, etc.). It’s important to REGISTER that copyright, though, in order to fully protect yourself in the case of infringement. Earlier this year I  registered the copyrights for my latest album via the Library of Congress’ online portal. It was fairly painless and didn’t take any longer than 30 minutes, if memory serves. Plus, there’s an easy way to simultaneously protect your compositions AND sound recordings with a single form. HERE’S HOW.

  2. Affiliate with a PRO

    Performing Rights Organizations (or PROs) such as ASCAP and BMI will help you collect performance royalties whenever your original songs are played on the radio, in venues, etc. This is the kind of revenue stream you want to be set up to collect BEFORE one of your songs takes off so you can capture every publishing dollar possible. Get affiliated as a songwriter, and then be sure to register all of your songs with that PRO, or…

  3. Seek out a publishing administration deal

    A publishing administrator such as CD Baby Pro can take care of your PRO affiliation for you; we register all your songs; PLUS we collect publishing royalties that PROs don’t, such as mechanical royalties for international downloads and global streaming activity (this is money that’s impossible to collect on your own). With a publishing admin deal, you know you’re prepared to capture all the revenue your music is generating. Check out CD Baby Pro HERE.

  4. Register with SoundExchange

    If you’re the owner of your own sound recording, the primary artist on the recording, or a member of the band, there are additional digital performance royalties you’re owed whenever your music is played on internet/satellite radio. But since it’s associated with the recording and not the song, these are not considered publishing royalties — so your PRO can’t collect them. That’s where SoundExchange comes in. They collect that money and distribute it to labels, artists, and players. Register with SoundExchange today.

  5. Set up worldwide distribution

    This is probably the most obvious item on the list. Your music is ready to be heard, so you’ve got to get it out into the world. With CD Baby distribution your music will be available on all the popular digital platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, etc.) and your CDs or vinyl will be made available to over 15k record stores worldwide. Get set up with global distribution today!

  6. License your cover songs

    Got any cover songs on your album? If not, skip to #7. If so, you need to secure the proper licenses to sell those songs or else you could get into big trouble down the road. Sounds complicated, but CD Baby’s cover song licensing partners make it easy. GO HERE for more info.

  7. Create a comprehensive press page on your website

    If you want people to review your album, play your songs on the radio, or book you for quality shows and festivals, you’ll need to have a simple place where they can get all the info: a press page! It’s basically an EPK (electronic press kit) that you host on your own website. What does this press page need to have? GO HERE FOR DETAILS. Don’t have your own website yet? That’s step one, and you can start HERE.

  8. Upload your album to SoundCloud as a private playlist

    Many bloggers, journalists, talent buyers, and DJs will ask for a SoundCloud link to hear your music, particularly if you’re trying to line up premieres for your songs. Of course you don’t want your music to be available to the public until the release date. So upload your album to SoundCloud, set the playlist to private, and share the private link with those music industry contacts.

  9. Put your songs in a sync licensing catalog

    One of the best ways to make new fans and earn money from your music is through sync licensing. This is where your songs are used in conjunction with moving images (thus “synchronization”). If your song gets synced, you’ll be paid for the right to use your sound recording AND your composition. And, depending on the usage, you also stand to earn performance royalties. If you want your music to be used in film, TV, commercials, video games, corporate presentations, and more, you’ll need to enter your songs into a reputable sync licensing catalog. Check out CD Baby’s sync licensing program HERE.

  10. Submit your music to Pandora

    Pandora is one of the best music discovery tools out there, so you definitely want your songs to be available on the popular radio platform. But, unlike with the other items on this list, your music needs to be available for purchase before you can submit to Pandora, so this is something you’ll want to take care of as soon as your album comes out. Then cross your fingers, because the truth is you might not get accepted to Pandora. They have a team of musicologists who listen to all the music submitted, and make decisions based on their current needs and tastes. It’s worth a try though, so follow the steps listed HERE and hope for the best.


All finished? Nice. Now you can start booking that tour or shooting that video. Did I forget any crucial album-release paperwork? If so, lemme know in the comments below.

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • Bram Bessoff

    Killer list! And don’t forget to set up your direct-to-fan strategy including a fan engagement plan, merch line and sales reporting for all your music sold online, at shows and even off the street. Find out more when you attend the DIY Music Conference or visit indiehitmaker.com

  • Keith A Patterson

    Pandora is a crooked and incompetent piece of crap. Don’t waste your time with them. And when they reject your new music, which is just like the other music of yours that they accepted, only way better, and you ask them for an explanation of the inexplicable, they will assure you of the following. “Listen up, Bud. Don’t ever question us on that, because we’re good and know what we’re doing and know ahead of time that anything we do that you question is just you being on thin ice.” That’s the paraphrase of what they’ve been telling me as the reason for their censorship.

  • Sending promo pitches prior to release? Absolutely. 3-6 months if you can for major outlets. If not, one month in advance for smaller blogs.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Less about getting on their radar (which is also important, of course) than giving different outlets the chance to cover your release when it’s still news (NEW). If you release and THEN contact the press/bloggers, your music is already old news, which makes it less attractive to write about. But if you’re set on releasing asap, just be sure to start sending out those SC links as soon as you have a release date set (with as much advance warning as possible, even if it’s only a couple weeks).

    @ChrisRobley