How To Make Your Own Song At Home – For years I had no idea how to release an album online, so I let the songs clog up my hard drive. After a lot of research (and failure), I finally put it all together. Here’s how.
It’s actually pretty easy to release your album these days. But there are several steps you need to take to ensure your launch is successful.
How To Make Your Own Song At Home
This guide on how to release an album uses many lessons from that book, as well as my own experiences.
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I tried to make this a practical, FUN case study of how I released my first album for my synthwave project, “Mga Portent.” (you can stream it while reading this
Note: This article contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on it. However, that does not influence my recommendations.
Once you’ve recorded your album, it’s important to master it. Mastering involves making sure all songs have a nice tonal balance, volume, and that they’re in the right format.
That means converting your entire projects to .Wav or .mp3. Then make sure each of the files is the right length (not a lot of dead space, no abrupt endings). You also want to make sure the names of the song files are correct!
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If you have a home production studio, you may want to consider mastering the tracks yourself. However, if you are creating your own tracks, you may not be able to master them as well.
That’s because you’re so used to the tracks that you might not hear them with new ears. Plus the idiosyncrasies of your ears, your monitors, and your room will be baked into the final mix, so you don’t want to duplicate it.
I originally mastered the tracks using iZotope Ozone, but I just didn’t hit the mark (for many of the reasons described above).
Instead, you can have a friend master your tracks. Or you can hire a pro from a site like AirGigs.com. Alternatively, you can use an online automated service.
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You can’t release an album without art. In fact, these days I would argue that the album art can be more important than the underlying music in first grabbing the listener’s attention!
Now, I don’t have much of an eye for design, so I initially went to Fiverr and hired someone to create album art. While I have had many experiences with Fiverr in the past, the particular artist I hired was short on time and would not commit to finishing the project on time. Bummer!
Since I’m under a tight deadline and timing is important (so you have to download the album timeline), I had to find another way to create my album art.
From there, I went to Canva, a free online graphic design site and started with one of their album templates. I imported my recently purchased art into Canva.
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After about half an hour of tinkering, I ended up with some album art that I enjoyed (below) and that fit the vibe of the album. This is probably the best way to do album art on the cheap for your first record release.
Copyrighting an album is easier than you think (at least for US copyright for your record release)! Now, when I first researched how to release an album, I didn’t know where to start with it.
Go to Copyright.gov and register the album. It costs $55 (updated 3/4/22 it now costs $65 to register), and you have to upload all your songs. Note that this only works if you own the composition rights and sound recording rights to do so.
You can monetize your music in a few different ways. First, if someone buys your album through your distributor, you will receive a percentage of the sale price. Second, when your song is streamed, the streaming platform will pay your distributor mechanical royalties on your behalf. The streaming platform will also pay the songwriter to the Performing Rights Organization (PROS) of the song, such as BMI & ASCAP, any performance royalties they are owed.
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It is important to recognize that there is a difference between registering your copyright with the government, and registering your song with a PRO. And how they differ from digital rights managers like DistroKid(7% off my link), and Sound Exchange.
These things are very confusing, and I encourage you to do more independent research. If you want to dig into all the registrations you need to get all the money possible from your music, please check out Ari Herstand’s book, How to Build a New Music Business. I’m just trying to give a basic guide on what you need to do for your record release.
First, you need to create an account with PRO – BMI or ASCAP in the US (it doesn’t really matter which one – but you must choose ONLY one). PROs collect a portion of the revenue stream that belongs to you as a songwriter/composer for public performances within the US.
Second, you’ll want to register with SongTrust ($10 off via my link). Song Trust can be the tool you use to register your publishing royalties from around the world, and they collect for a wider range of games within the US, including many micro mechanical royalties from streams on platforms like Facebook and Tim Tok. .
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You can also have them collect royalties for Youtube performances (unlike PROs). A lifetime membership costs $100.
After all my research, I have come to the conclusion that there are two very good options for how to release an album on iTunes, Spotify, etc. The first is CD Baby, and the second is DistroKid.
Both are reputable, have good software, are professional and easy to work with. The big difference is the pricing model they use.
CD Baby charges a one-time fee per album or single. As of October 2017, they charge $29 per album. Distrokid, by contrast, charges $19.99 per year for unlimited albums, released under one name (and 7% for the first year of my link).
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I initially chose CD Baby to distribute my album for the following reasons. First, I like the idea of paying a one-time fee and having my music there forever. Second, I plan to release several albums under different names (ie make a lo-fi hip hop album, indie rock album, bossa nova album, etc).
But over time, I found DistroKid’s unlimited albums per year to be an amazing deal. That’s because I have a huge collection of songs in the same genre that I want to release regularly. I usually release a couple releases a year, and the savings really add up.
These days, it goes without saying that you have to be online everywhere. Here are the main things you need to prepare – think of it as your album release checklist. Or at least a starting point.
You might think that having a website has nothing to do with how to release an album, but maybe you live in 1992.
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These days, having a website is a must. It’s the only platform you can trust to never change the rules and never force you to pay extra to engage with your fans. It is a constant light in the darkness.
On your website you’ll want to include at least one photo, your bio, links to your music, any upcoming shows, and, most importantly, a way to sign up for your mailing list so you can be directly talk to your fans.
If you are not very tech savvy, I recommend setting up a website with Wix. It’s super easy, looks great, and is cheap. Again, this is probably the best option if you’re only releasing music as an artist on a semi-regular basis.
If you are more tech savvy, then you can build a site from scratch, which will ultimately be cheaper. I already have the knowledge of technology, domain hosting, and software licenses that I need to launch a band site.
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So for me it’s better to just register a new domain for record release and host it on my existing account.
You need an email host to manage your growing list of subscribers. Mail Chimpoffers is a great free option as long as you have a small list.
I’m telling you, ask any “internet marketer” or band or whoever – who has an email list where it’s at. The list allows you to announce new releases, tour dates, and share silly anecdotes with your fans for free. Some marketing tools (like Facebook) cost WAY WAY more per interaction.
Now that you’ve got your website up and running, at the very least you’ll also need a Facebook page. You want to include much of the same information on your Facebook page as your website.
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But you also have to commit to making a couple of posts each week to keep people engaged.
You also want to create a Youtube channel (did you know that Youtube is one of the biggest music discovery sites around?)
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