With a growing subscriber base currently at 68 million users, Apple Music provides one of the largest audiences for artists among music streaming platforms. It has a global reach, as it is currently available in 167 countries worldwide (after launching in 52 additional countries as of April 2020). In this article, I will give you a brief overview of what Apple Music is, why you should get your music on the platform, and how to upload your music to Apple Music.
Apple Music is one of the most popular music streaming services in the world. Its friendly music discovery features and extensive music catalogue have made it a favourite among music streaming service subscribers. Coming pre-installed on Apple devices may have also contributed to its popularity. Apple Music is an essential streaming service to have your music on if you are an artist looking to grow your audience and get discovered by fans across the world.
Not only does Apple Music offer artists the potential to reach a global audience, it also has user features that help listeners discover new music and artists based on their listening habits. Apple Music also gives artists access to their music stats through the Apple Music for Artists platform. On top of this, artists get paid by Apple Music whenever their songs get streamed on the service. I will discuss all this in detail below.
Apple Music has some interesting user features designed to help listeners discover new music and artists more often. These can work to your advantage as an artist by helping more people discover you and your music.
Playlists have greatly improved user experience on Apple Music and other music streaming services. Listeners can create playlists based on songs they like or add songs they discover to playlists they have created. Users can also create their own radio stations, which work by creating a station based on a song or an artist of the listener’s choosing.
Apple Music also has playlists automatically generated by its algorithms, which are customised to a user’s music tastes and preferences. These are recommended in the ‘For You’ section, and is one of the more common ways listeners discover new music and artists on the platform. Apple Music also has its own curated playlists (curated by Apple Music staff) which often feature a wide variety of artists and songs.
Apple Music generates its own music charts based on the popularity of songs and artists on the platform. It features international charts (which feature the most popular songs and artists worldwide) and localised charts (which feature top songs and artists in a country or region). This is also another cool way for artists to get discovered on the platform.
Apple Music is one of the few major streaming services that offers artists direct backend access to their stats. They do this through the Apple Music for Artists platform. Once your music is on Apple Music, you can apply for access to Apple Music for Artists, where you gain access to stats on how your music is performing on the platform. It also provides helpful information such as the demographics of your music’s performance, including areas and regions where your music is popular, ages of the listeners etc.
Since the integration of Shazam into the Apple family, your Shazam stats are also available on Apple Music for Artists. This is great because you get to know where your music is being discovered, along with other helpful stats to know how your music is performing on Shazam.
So, good news – you get paid for every stream your music generates once it is on Apple Music. This is deduced from the user subscriber fees Apple collects, of which they give a portion to the artists, so the more streams your music generates, the more you get paid. The average pay-per-stream for artists by Apple Music in 2020 is $0.0056. The payment arrangements are dependent on how you get your music on Apple Music.
There are two options for how to get your music on Apple Music. You can upload to Apple Music directly through their system, or indirectly through Apple’s preferred third-party aggregators. For both options, the process of delivering your music to Apple Music and the iTunes store is the same.
Artists can upload their music directly to Apple Music and iTunes through the iTunes Connect platform. However, there are some minimum requirements one must meet to be able to do so. You must have:
Once you meet the above requirements, you can apply via the iTunes Connect platform on Apple’s website. Note: meeting these requirements does not guarantee that your application will be accepted, and that the application process may take up to eight weeks to be approved due to the high number of applicants.
Once your application is approved, you will receive an email invitation to iTunes Connect. Follow the link and log in to iTunes Connect. You will be required to set up “Agreements, Tax and Banking”. This involves signing the contracts between you and Apple Music, providing individual (or company) tax information and banking details. For your music to be available worldwide, you need to assign worldwide territory rights. The option to assign specific territories is also available in this section. Note that tax forms are required to sell in the United States, Canada, and Australian stores. You will need to fill out a W-9 form if you are in the United States or a W-8BEN/W-8BEN-E if outside the United States.
You must also add “Users and Roles” to allow different levels of access to the people helping manage your music. These are “Admin”, “Legal”, “Finance”, “Technical”, “Sales”, “Read-only” and “Encoder”. By signing up for the account, you are automatically assigned Admin and Legal roles and can access everything in the account. This allows you to access information about your music from payments and financial reports to contracts and assigning roles to people.
After completing the above, download and install the iTunes Producer, which is the software you need to upload your music to Apple Music and iTunes.
Before submitting your music on Apple Music, ensure your music and artwork is the right format and meets the specifications. Check the iTunes Store Music Style Guide and Video and Audio Asset Guide to see the complete guide on standards and specifications for music. These are the essential requirements.
• Audio with a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz (16-bit or 24-bit res) and 96, 176.4 or 192 kHz (24-bit res)
• Use the stereo audio source. If this is not available, the audio source must have identical channels for left and right
• Audio must be recorded with a Codec qualified and approved by Apple
• Cover Art must be 3000 x 3000 pixels with 1:1 aspect ratio, high quality JPEG or PNG files
Once you have gone through the guides and have everything ready, launch iTunes Producer and sign in with your iTunes Connect credentials. Create an album even for singles, as they are uploaded on the platforms as an album in themselves. You will have the option to either create an album from CD or from audio files. After creating your album, you can add album details, artist names, genres, original release date, copyright information and other relevant metadata as required. To add the cover art, drag the art onto the Cover Art box or click Choose and select the cover art file.
The next step is to set the album pricing (for iTunes) and rights. Here, you can set the price and the territories where the album will be available. The default setting on iTunes Producer sets World rights and pricing for your album. Here, you can also select the date when the album should be available including the pre-order availability date.
The next section is where you add individual track details including track metadata, lyrics, pricing, and rights details. After this, you have the option to add “localisations”, which provides album details in different language localisations to suit countries where the album will be sold. The final step is to deliver your album as an iTunes Store package to Apple Music/iTunes for processing. In this step, iTunes Producer will highlight any errors that need to be fixed before delivery. If all the details are correct, click on “Deliver” to complete the process.
While choosing to upload directly, it is important to note that Apple does not pay partners until they meet the payment thresholds for their country. You may receive payments faster by working with an Apple-approved aggregator.
So, what if you do not meet the Apple Music requirements to upload directly, or feel like the direct process is too complicated? Well, you can use third-party affiliates. Apple Music has a list of approved partners that can get your music on the platform, including distributors and labels. Distributors can upload your music to Apple Music and collect the streaming revenue on your behalf. They may charge a fee or take a percentage of the earnings (this varies with different distributors). If you are signed, labels can also put your music on there. You will then be paid a percentage of the earnings, depending on your contract agreement with them.
Apple Music is a great place to reach more listeners, grow your artist brand, and earn from your music. Now that you know how to put your music on Apple Music, why not go for it?
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