How to sell your music or songs in iTunes?

Additional information on submitting music for online distribution

1.) iTunes requires that your sound recording should have ISRC on it. You can refer the following tutorials regarding ISRC:

a.) Steps in ISRC registration
c.) Procedure on embedding ISRC codes

2.) It is not guaranteed that you will have songs to be distributed by iTunes. It is recommended to look for other online distribution methods while you are waiting for a reply from an iTunes representative. This is critical if you already scheduled (with a definite date) your album or singles for release. Bear in mind that having your music released and distributed by iTunes is only one of strategies in marketing your music online as describe in this article. You also need to pay attention to other strategies so that you can surely profit from your music venture.

Content last updated on October 23, 2012

  • Rachel Margaret

    Hi Emerson,

    Thank you so much! That link was very helpful. I’m glad to know it’s not purely sales volume. It explains a lot. While I am not so familiar with formatting, my mixing engineer is. He’s mixed for major labels for years. I can ask him to make sure it’s formatted properly. As for the other requirements (the Tax ID, UPC Code, etc), I can manage those. I know it’s daunting for a lot of folks, but it seems worth the trouble to learn about these things. I just think going directly to Apple is better. The artists who are directly with Apple seem to have a better presence on Apple’s website. For example, I have a bio on CD Baby, but it never made it over to iTunes. If I were directly with iTunes, I think it would. I would also be eligible for their recommendations. I know some people who have sold 25-50,000 records, but none of them has ever been recommended by iTunes, because they were with CDBaby. And that’s where I think the real exposure as an artist comes. There’s no guarantee they would ever review my CD or recommend me if I were with them directly, but there’s a guarantee they won’t, if I’m not.

  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi Rachel,
    I look again as to how their process works when accepting music content providers. And it looks like you are qualified to submit music directly to iTunes only if:

    a.) Your music is formatted digitally in such a way it conforms exactly to Apple music encoding technical standard as well as the content and financial requirements. You can read more details about that here:

    Also here:

    b.) You are well established enough to handle all the financial, business and marketing transactions in selling music.

    As what I see now, it is not all having huge fan base where Apple decides whether to accept independent music artist or not. It’s on how the music is formatted as well as if the artist complies with the content and financial requirements that she/he will be qualified to submit the music directly to iTunes.

    Most indie artist does not know about these things as well as those requirements; it’s why they recommend the artist to deal first with the iTunes list of recommended music aggregators. One of these aggregators is CD baby and they can format your album, songs and singles to work with iTunes distribution. They also dedicated departments in their company to communicate marketing/business communications with iTunes.

    It is also why most artist that are selling music with iTunes are major label artist because these labels already knows these requirements aside from the fact that they are pretty big companies with their own dedicated distribution/marketing department. This will be one to handle all communications with iTunes as well as getting those music encoded at the right format. iTunes on the other hand are sure that they can earn big money from these artist because it is supported by a major label with some heavy marketing plan (e.g. music videos, concerts, airplays, etc).

    Once you submitted your application, you can as well follow up through their customer service. Although I am not yet sure how they handle these processes. You can start looking here:

  • Rachel Margaret

    Hi Emerson,

    Regarding what you said to Lynn, Is it merely the fact that a band is not signed to a major label? If a record has high production values, is it considered for direct sale?

    I, too, would like to go directly through iTunes. My first EP was rejected, so I went through CD Baby. I must admit that I was new to the whole thing, and didn’t understand their process that well. But I would like to reapply for my new album, which is coming out soon. I already have several thousand pre-orders for the album, which comes out in June, and I’ve only just started getting the word out. I don’t want to pay CD Baby this time around. It also seems to me that if you want to get a song from your album as a free download on iTunes, you need to be directly with them. I have never seen an indie artist featured on the site who was actually going through CDBaby.

    You mentioned calling Apple customer service. Does the main Apple iTunes customer service handle applications?

  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi Donnell,
    I just write some tips regarding US Sound recording copyright application here:
    I hope it will be helpful.


  • Donnell Lewis

    whe3n filling out a us SR filing application from copyright office, it takes four and a half months to receive a certificate, what are some of thye ways that one could recieve a certificate sooner, legally and at what cost. And what form of protection or certificate would be accepted by iTunes or it’s partners.

    Thank You

  • lynne

    Thank you so much Emerson! I emailed them once before but to no avail. If I can get a live person, that would be great.

    Thanks & I’ll keep you posted….


  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi lynne,
    This is the reply I got from Itunes around years ago also:

    Dear Emerson Maningo,

    Thank you for your interest in iTunes.After careful consideration of your application, we believe that the most efficient way to get your content up on iTunes in a timely fashion would be for you to deliver the content through one of the several digital service providers with whom we currently work.

    For your information, below is a list of several companies that can encode and deliver your music content to iTunes. Should you be interested, please determine which digital service provider is appropriate for your particular content.For Audiobook content, see below.

    It looks like they are saying “most efficient way” most likely because I have a few songs in my catalog way back before and I am currently an indie producer which make sense to submit the content first to CD baby.This reply looks positive for me, but in your case, since you have a lot of songs under your label; you can re-contact itunes and request if they can provide you a direct distribution deal. As per their guidelines, you do not need to re-submit (using the form), so your best approach would be directly calling their customer support or an email.

    Logically, iTunes need to be deal only with major producers/labels because of the massive marketing campaign that are behind those major label songs, so it can benefit them by having a more sales and downloads from those campaigns. A budget limited indie label can hardly do that except if you have the right connections with the right money. Good luck.

  • lynne

    Hi – I was rejected from iTunes a few years ago. How can I get them to reconsider my application? I am also confused that if your reply from iTunes is “positive” you then register with CDbaby. Isn’t it true that if your response is positive, you can go directly through iTunes?

    My reply had been negative & they told me as a back-up plan I could register with CDbaby. The problem is that my label has really grown and I don’t want to have to give an extra 20% to CDbaby if going direct to iTunes is an option. Plus, CDbaby tooj it upon themselves to change/screwed up a few things about my listings and I have not found them to be very helpful in making them accurate again.

  • Emerson Maningo

    Hi Drake,
    Apologies for the late reply, things have been so busy out here. Anyway, yes, you can pay $35 to $50 for the entire album you are copyrighting. This saves you a lot of money and this is acceptable.
    But if one of your great songs gets a cut(like released as singles or recorded by a mainstream artist)and a big money earner/potential. You can copyright it again as a single. This is still valid and ok.

  • Drake Hardy

    Can you please tell me, do i need to pay $35 to $50 for each of the songs which i want to copyright or do i have to pay $35 for the entire album i will be copyrighting.

    (Please leave a reply ASAP!)