Update, July 21th, 2015: It has been a long road, with several bumps, but overall I do recommend RouteNote. They always pay on time, and they have been willing to work out some of the particular issues I’ve had. Read on for more details on my long journey.
If you decide to sign up for RouteNote, please use my referral code: 2f72c02f
I’ve also written a guidebook on how to use RouteNote to release your music to the world, available at Amazon. If you’ve never used a music aggregator, this book takes you through the whole process from sign-up to submission.
Originally posted January 29th, 2014:
I’ve been bitten by the “create a bunch of music and then publish it” bug. I wish I would have contracted this virus earlier, but timing can’t always be helped. Since I am new (very, very new) to distributing my music online, and there was no help online when I searched for certain information, I decided to chronicle my experience to share with others.
I had some questions, like:
What services should I release my music on?
How long does it take for a song to be released on iTunes?
How long does it take for a song to be released on Amazon, or Spotify, or Groove (Xbox) Music?
Is it easy to release my own music online?
How do you pronounce RouteNote? (it’s pronounced like root)
So hopefully, by sharing my experience with some of the details, it will make it clearer for others trying to go the same path. Maybe my experiences will even give you confidence, so it doesn’t feel like you are jumping into a big dark ocean, in the middle of the night, naked.
Keep in mind that my experiences are mine alone and are not necessarily representative of typical experiences with music distribution services. I will update this post as my experience increases with this exciting venture.
What music service should I release my music on?
There are many options for anyone interested in independently releasing their music online. You can release to iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, eMusic, Xbox Music, Rdio, and more. Then there are aggregators that will allow you to submit your music for release one time, and then the aggregators do the rest of the work for you. Each of these aggregators have their quirks, benefits, and limitations. Choosing an aggregator may be the most important decision you make in regards to releasing your music online.
I researched a few North American aggregators and settled in on RouteNote. They provided me with the ability to sign up and release music for no upfront cost. This was a big deal for me, as I don’t expect to make much, if any money. They keep 15% of my revenue in exchange for not charging me upfront. If any of my music blows up, I can change this and pay the fee and then keep 100% of my revenue.
But when releasing through Routenote, as well as other aggregators I assume, I was given the choice of which services I wanted to submit my music to. “Why wouldn’t you release through all services?” I thought. That’s more exposure, right? Well, yes. But it also limits your impact on a particular service. If your music were only available on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play, you are only splitting your market into three groups. But should you choose to release across every service, your iTunes sales would likely reflect lower numbers as you are leeching sales out to other services. Because of this, I can see why someone would only want to release to a single service or even just a few.
Then there’s the streaming services, like Deezer, Spotify, Groove. Where you don’t get 60 cents for selling a song there, you get a fraction of a cent for a “play”, that is, someone streaming your songs. Maybe you don’t want people copping these cheap (free, even) listens and would rather they pay for the right to hear your music. In that case, don’t release to streaming services.
How long does the approval process take with RouteNote?
I submitted my first song, Do Your Homework through RouteNote on January 23, 2014. It was a Thursday. According to the FAQ on RouteNote.com, I was to expect a 1-2 day moderation process. If you submit everything properly, and your art and song quality are acceptable, you get approved. In my experience, I received an email the next day stating my song had passed the moderation process. “This is moving quickly.” I thought.
Also according to the FAQ at RouteNote.com “most retail partners normally work on a 1 – 2 week moderation process”
What do I fill out for “Copyright Name” and “Label” when releasing with RouteNote?
I was a little intimidated when I didn’t know what to put in some of the fields when filling out the RouteNote application. I did my best to answer honestly. It asked for Copyright Name, and I wrote the song, so I put my name in there.
For label, it doesn’t really mean much for most people. I just used ToolOfGod records. I released an album of Jam Tracks under that label on Createspace (the opposite of iTunes), so I kept that going. Plus, it’s the name of my website, plus…etc.
- Artist: Orion Williams
- Title: Do Your Homework
- Album: Do Your Homework
- Track: 1
- Genre: Comedy
- Sec Gen: Rock
- Label: ToolOfGod Records
- Year: 2013
- Cpy Year: 2013
- Cpy Name: Orion Williams
- Explicit: Clean
- Length: 2:24 minutes (4.4 MB)
- Format: Joint ster 44kHz 256Kbps (CBR)
How long does it take for a song to go “live” on iTunes?
My first release was approved by RouteNote on Friday, January 24th. I don’t know how soon after that the song was submitted to iTunes, but I figure it was same day. My song went live on the iTunes store on Monday, January 27th. So, either the iTunes people are working weekends, or they are just fast. That’s fast anyway, even if they were working over the weekend. I was expecting a week and I got a weekend. Bravo iTunes!
As a bonus bit of information, it seems reviews of your music take about a day before being displayed.
Update: Most releases actually go live on iTunes the same day they are approved by RouteNote. They put every other service to shame in this regard, and that is coming from someone who refuses to install iTunes on his computer.
How long does it take for a song to go “live” on Spotify?
Since my first release was approved by Routenote on Friday, January 24th, and first saw my track on Spotify on Saturday, February 1st, I conclude that it takes about a week for a track to go live on Spotify. Once a song becomes available on Spotify, it can be streamed, shared to social networks and saved to playlists, just like any other song on the service.
Spotify is where I first noticed some of the information I filled out during the Routenote submission process. Spotify lists my song as being Copyrighted by “Orion Williams” and published by “Orion Williams”, both of those in 2013. This all coincides with what I entered on my submission form. So far, no one seems to care about what “label” my song was released on.
How long does it take for a song to go “live” on Rdio?
Unfortunately, I wasn’t watching Rdio as closely as I should have. I only noticed that Do Your Homework had been published on February 3rd, but it may have been published much earlier. I’ll have to watch closer on my next release, now that I have an Rdio account.
How long does it take for a song to go “live” on Google Play?
After being approved by RouteNote on Jan. 24th, Do Your Homework went live on Google Play on Feb. 5th. Shy of two weeks from submission to availability.
How long does it take for a song to go “live” on Last.fm?
I uploaded Do Your Homework to Last.fm and my song became available for streaming within 24 hours. RouteNote did not upload to Last.fm, I did this manually, but they make the process painless. I was able to register as a record label (ToolOfGod Records) and have control over the artist (Orion Williams) and the associated page.
How long does it take for a song to go “live” on Amazon?
My song, Do Your Homework, hit the Amazon MP3 marketplace on Feb 8th, over two weeks after uploading and being approved at RouteNote. I was surprised by how long this took, considering uploading to Amazon via createspace for my album of Guitar Jam tracks took less than a week.
I released a song called Sailing on the Sunset and it took over two months to show up on Amazon. A RouteNote representative told me that it is because Amazon closed their ingestion servers. It does not explain why that release is still not on Xbox Music.
How long does it take for a song to go “live” on Groove Music (formerly Xbox Music)?
Well, that was a long time. My songs first appeared on Xbox Music on May 14th, 2014. Over three months from my original submission. However, this seems to be related to a contract issue between RouteNote and Xbox Music. This should not be the norm, though I will need to release another song to learn more.
Unfortunately, there is yet another issue with my music on Xbox Music, that being my “albums”, which are actually singles, are selling for “$9.99”. I did not set this price and think it’s ridiculous, and I’m filing a support claim at the moment to get it cleared up. Please do not buy my singles for 10 dollars a piece. Thank you.
Update: Most songs take about a week+ to go live on Xbox Music. This is what I have learned after numerous releases.
How long does it take for a song to go “live” on Music Unlimited? (this service is no longer available)
So far this has never happened. I see other people’s songs have gone live since I have uploaded mine, but still not one has ever been featured on the service. So, the answer for me is “never” until they actually release my music. I will try to update this should that ever happen.
Getting Started with RouteNote
If you are looking for help releasing music with RouteNote, I have written a detailed guide. This step-by-step instructional takes away the fear of the unknown and encourages you through the entire process.
Update, June 20th, 2014
It has now been 4 weeks and my latest release, Sailing On The Sunset, has not been published to multiple stores, including Xbox Music and Amazon. The track went up after the usual 2-3 days on iTunes, and I figured another two weeks at most for the release to go live on Amazon. It is still not available and that saddens and frustrates me. When it takes this long, I have to question if it’s every going to be published on these stores.
My singles on Xbox Music are still being sold for 10$ each, and it took nearly one full month for RouteNote to respond to my support ticket in this matter.
On the bright side, after three months I finally earned enough money to get paid by RouteNote, reaching my 50 dollar threshold. But the overall experience prevents me from recommending the service as a whole. I have only used the free distribution model, and in this regard I can say that you pretty much get what you pay for.
Update, July 24th, 2014
Sailing on the Sunset has just now become available on Amazon MP3. It’s still not available on Xbox Music. RouteNote support has been very slow to get back to me about the issues, if at all.
Update, December 1, 2014
I have released several singles lately under a new artist name. Here is what I have learned over the past several months.
- RouteNote is having trouble convincing Xbox Music that there is anything other than a full-priced/full-length album
- All of my single releases are “albums” and those albums are on Xbox Music for $10
- There is nothing that RouteNote can do about this, apparently the ball is in Xbox Music’s court
- Since RouteNote has started distributing to Sony’s Music Unlimited, I have exactly zero releases on their service, despite requesting for all of my releases to be there
- Apparently Sony has been flooded with new tracks to host since all of Routenote’s catalog gets retroactively added to Music Unlimited
- It may take months for my songs to appear on Music Unlimited
- iTunes is amazingly fast at releasing music onto their store, usually available the day my music is approved by RouteNote
- RouteNote doesn’t like people releasing music that has trademarks in the song titles (I was rejected), but you can get around this if your song is a parody or satire (mine is satire)
- If you want to upload your music to YouTube but don’t want your music to have copyright strikes against it on YouTube, don’t check the box for RouteNote to distribute your songs through YouTube
Update, July 21, 2015
Since my last writing Sony Music Unlimited has folded. I guess that explains why my music never made it onto the service. On a much more positive note, Nokia Mix Radio is now playing my music. RouteNote continues to improve as a service. For some reason there is no convincing Xbox Music (Groove Music) that my singles are not 10$ albums.
Well, we do what we can with what we’ve got.