If you’re an aspiring musician trying to get your music out there for people to enjoy, but you don’t have a following or a record deal yet, your best bet is to make the best of the digital platforms at your disposal.
Building a strong online presence is how newcomer artists get noticed nowadays, by both fans and record label executives. Being active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and of course, TikTok, is crucial in this digital age, because that’s where music fans spend their time. But if going viral on TikTok is not your thing, then you’ll want to get your music on the most popular music platforms out there - this means, of course, Spotify and Apple Music.
Spotify is by far the platform of choice for any aspiring musician looking to make a name for themselves and get their music heard by millions of people. Once you publish your first song on Spotify, you’ll get access to Spotify for Artists, which is a great tool for promoting your music and building a fanbase. But how do you get started, and what are the steps you have to take to get your music on Spotify?
Can you upload your own music directly to Spotify?
You might remember that back in 2018 Spotify launched a new beta feature that allowed independent artists to upload their own music directly to the platform. Artists were paid whenever someone streamed their songs and they received reports on streams and earnings through Spotify for Artists. The artists were not charged any fees or commissions for uploading their music to Spotify, no matter how often they were releasing new music.
Now, the bad news is that Spotify scrapped the beta feature in 2019, and as a result, independent artists can’t upload their music directly to the platform anymore. Today, if you want to upload your songs to Spotify, you’ll need to work with one of the platform’s music distribution partners, otherwise known as Digital Service Providers, or DSPs. These platforms focus on distributing media on streaming websites like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and so on. This is the only way to upload your music to these platforms as an independent artist.
How to choose a distributor to upload your music to Spotify
Musicians can’t upload music directly to Spotify; the only way to do that is via a music distributor. You can sign up to an online platform and submit music via local files, which will then be distributed to Spotify. You can find a list of providers recommended by Spotify and research which one works best for you before creating an account.
Spotify has significantly expanded their list of providers over the past few years, and they take these partnerships very seriously, ensuring that artists are protected from copyright infringement and that their work contains all the required metadata. Once your chosen DSP submits the first songs onto Spotify for you, you’ll gain access to Spotify for Artists, where you can further expand your professional profile and promote your music to millions of listeners.
Of course, if you already are signed with a record label, things can be simplified. Labels often act as DSPs themselves, or they will handle distribution of your music on platforms like Spotify or Apple Music as part of your contract. That’s just one of the reasons many artists work hard to get noticed by a major label and land that dream record deal.
What is required from artists before track submission?
Just because you’re working with a digital distribution partner to submit your music to Spotify doesn’t mean you don’t have to do a little bit of work yourself beforehand. It’s better to have everything prepared and not rely solely on the distributor to get your music on Spotify.
High-quality, professional recording
First, you’ll want to make sure that you only submit fully produced, mixed, and mastered tracks that live up to a professional standard. It’s important to invest time to polish your work and ensure that it sounds professional and ready to be heard by both fans and record label executives.
Complete track metadata
Next, your track metadata should be prepared for each of the songs you want to submit, and this includes everything from track name, artist name, album name, genre, release date, track duration, featured artists (when applicable), songwriting and composition credits, and so on. The more data you provide to Spotify, the better, because it will be easier for the algorithm to pick up your songs and recommend them to listeners interested in your genre or style.
Every track or album should be accompanied by high-quality, high-resolution cover art that best showcases your style and your sound and draws listeners in. You want to make sure that your art is in line with Spotify’s guidelines and ensure it doesn’t feature explicit content.
Spotify requires cover art to be in TIFF, PNG or JPG format using lossless encoding, at the highest resolution available, at least 640px wide and tall, at a 1:1 aspect ratio, encoded with an sRGB color space, 24 bits per pixel, with color profiles applied directly. Spotify also doesn’t support embedded color profiles and orientation metadata.
Rights and ownership
This goes without saying, but you’ll need to have all the rights and permissions in place for your music before submitting it to Spotify or any other music platform, otherwise you could get in legal trouble. You should own the rights to your original compositions, or have the appropriate licenses in place if you’re sampling music or working with other artists.
How long do artists need to wait for the release?
There’s no way to say exactly how long it will take for your DSP to submit your music to Spotify, and how long it will take until your songs are live on the platform. This will vary depending on the distributor you’re working with.
However, if you already have a release date set, you will want to upload your music well in advance, to make sure it will be live at the right time. Remember that there might be small tweaks to make to your cover art or your metadata, so the process could take longer in this case.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can anyone upload music to Spotify?
No, independent artists cannot upload music to Spotify directly. Instead, you’ll have to work with a distributor to get your songs published on Spotify and gain access to Spotify for Artists.
How can you upload music to Spotify as an artist?
You can upload your music to Spotify as an artist by using a digital music distribution service, such as DistroKid, TuneCore, CD Baby, or Ditto Music, which will handle the process of delivering your tracks to Spotify and other streaming platforms.
What to do after you upload music on Spotify?
After you upload music on Spotify, you should promote your music through various channels, such as social media, email newsletters, live performances, collaborations, playlist pitching, and engaging with your audience, to increase visibility and attract listeners to your tracks.
How do you earn money from Spotify?
Artists earn money from Spotify through royalties based on the number of streams their songs receive, with the revenue generated from advertising, subscriptions, and other sources being distributed to rights holders.
How do you check Spotify streams?
You can check Spotify streams by accessing your artist dashboard on Spotify for Artists, where you'll find detailed insights and analytics on your streams, listeners, playlists, and more. You can create your Spotify for Artists profile after you upload music onto the platform.
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