Independent artists who want to get their releases on streaming platforms often don’t realize that some very simple mistakes could mean that listeners don’t hear those hot new tracks. Before they can reach audiences around the world, artists must provide factual information, properly credit contributors and otherwise comply with a broad range of requirements from the more than 150 streaming services and stores that companies like ours connect to. By avoiding the pitfalls I outline below, you can make sure your content doesn’t get rejected.
It’s about Time
It’s critical that artists upload submissions at least a couple of weeks in advance of the release date to ensure their content goes live when they want it to. We’ve typically seen that you need to allow extra time be sure everything is in order for your release with major platforms like Apple Music and Spotify. Each service has their own processing time: iTunes typically takes 24-72 hours, while others can take up to five days.
And, if you want your release to be considered for feature placement, you need to allow even more time -- up to four weeks. The great thing about all that lead time is that it gives artists plenty of opportunity to build hype, promote pre-orders and raise awareness on social media.
The Right Match
In our experience, “artwork mismatch” (meaning that information on the release artwork doesn’t match the metadata provided by the artist) is the most common issue that gets content rejected before it can reach a worldwide audience. Metadata refers to things like release title, artist names, track titles, genre and language -- all of the information that describes the release.
Sometimes it’s a simple misspelling or data entry error that causes the mismatch. Other times, there is text in the artwork that doesn’t have anything to do with the title of the release, or the artist’s name, etc. In the case of singles, sometimes an artist uses the album artwork, but if the titles don’t match, it could be rejected.
The Name Game
We often see people making errors in how they list featured artists. For example, sometimes artist names appear in release artwork but they are not mentioned in the metadata. Streaming platforms -- in their bid to provide the best service for their end users -- are concerned about misrepresentation, want to ensure that contributors are credited property and that all information is accurate. The metadata, artwork and the content itself must always give a fair representation of what it contains.
What You Say Matters
Some independent artists may not realize that the streaming platforms have other restrictions on the type of information you can include in artwork. Release dates, contact information, and social media handles are all prohibited. Logos from brands or other streaming platforms (e.g. a Spotify logo on an Apple Music release or vice versa) are out as well.
The last several years have seen a surge of independent artists coming to companies like TuneCore in the midst of a vibrant streaming ecosystem. Musicians have embraced every flavor of DIY attitude and viral marketing to get their music to audiences worldwide. If they pay attention to the basic standards the music platforms ask us all to adhere to they can make sure those new tracks get heard.
Tori Leche is the Lead Agent on the Content Review and Rights Administration team at TuneCore. She was previously a Music Business/Management & Songwriting student at Berklee College of Music, and uses her knowledge and passion for music in her role at TuneCore to help independent artists make their music available in digital stores and easily accessible to their fanbases.