Before Internet, it is virtually impossible for any indie artist to release album in a worldwide scale. Think about the cost of replicating thousands of CDs, cost of distribution, cost of radio airplay, cost of releasing singles which is a massive project to any indie artist.
It is why only artist supported and funded by major recording labels has the ability to finance and market the artist songs in a global scale. We are talking about millions of dollars cost of promotion here. Even major labels is facing a problem with plummeting CD sales, a trend that will most likely continue even today. Now that Internet came to the scene, it offers a new opportunity for both indie and major label artist to market their music to their possible fans. The good thing is that selling your music online such as in iTunes is increasingly becoming more popular as of 2010.
Now lets asked a question: How to release a digital music album online?
This is very important and releasing an album should be included in your music artist marketing plan. Let’s make a common assumption to this plan: supposing you are the one writing your own songs as well as the one financing the records. So it means you own both songs/lyrics and the sound recording copyrights of your tracks. Also this tutorial assumes that you already have the master recording of your tracks ready for release.
Securing Copyrights and Registering your Songs to Performing Right Societies
First step: Secure copyrights for both song/lyrics and sound recording. If possible, copyright the whole album (you can submit 12 songs to the copyright office as one CD package). Secure form SR, this is the most important. The recommended bit rate for submission is MP3 320 Kbps, CBR only.
For best protection, you can as well apply for PA (Performing arts) copyright for your music and lyrics (submitted also as one separate CD package containing the same set of songs you used with Form SR). Form PA and Form SR is recommended for a self-produced digital album release. It is because you are the writing the songs as well as producing the records.
Some countries do not have online copyright application so you would opt to use snail mailing method to deliver your work to the copyright office of your country. In US, they have online copyright application; so it’s faster and efficient. It is recommended to wait until you received the copyright certificate for both SR and PA before proceeding to the next steps. It is because problems might arise in your copyright application and you will be denied with the copyright ownership for some issues.
Before filing for any copyright application, it is highly recommended you read the following tutorials the copyright registration is done right:
a.) Copyright Mistakes to Avoid in Music Production & Songwriting
b.) How to Submit Sound Recording Copyright Application Properly
c.) Understanding the Sound Recording Copyright Registration Process
Second step: Once you have the copyright certificate. You will be assigned with a copyright registration number. Use this number to register your songs in performing right societies. You have 3 major choices: if you live in the US, BMI/ASCAP or SESAC. You should also register in Sound Exchange and Harry Fox Agency. Or you can affiliate in your own country performing right societies; for example FilScap in Philippines. Do a Google search for their websites regarding their application requirements.
Get an ISRC, UPC and Design and album cover
Since you are the sound recording copyright owner, you will need to secure ISRC for each track in your album. ISRC is a number coded that depends on the country; date, etc. where you are releasing your digital album.