It’s a safe bet that the ‘journey of musical discovery’ that an artist envisions while setting out to create music doesn’t factor in landing on the rocky shores of Spotify song uploads! But don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
From getting your audio materials in order, all the way through to choosing a music distributor who fits your needs perfectly, this article is written to serve as a navigational chart through the tricky seas of digital music distribution. Just follow these guidelines to see your music safely anchored on Spotify.
Getting Your Song File Ready for Spotify
Before you even think of getting your music up on Spotify, you need to ensure that you have all the materials you need for uploading your track successfully. The rest of this section will walk you through the requirements.
Audio file quality
The audio file for your track must meet Spotify’s high standards. This is not only important for meeting the platform’s file upload requirements, but also essential for ensuring that your listeners enjoy the best auditory experience
Spotify requires audio files to be in lossless format (WAV or the recommended FLAC) with a minimum sample rate (aka bit depth) of 16 bits and sample rate of 44.1 kHz—termed ‘CD quality’, a widely accepted digital audio standard. Individual music distributors’ audio upload specifications may vary.
Don’t hit the panic button just yet… stripped of all jargon, the above explanation simply means that you need to ensure your audio file is recorded in a high quality, ‘lossless’ format that preserves the original sound quality without compression-related losses and distortion.
Audio engineers typically know industry standards well, so get yours to give you a file of your song that meets the above specs.
Song or album artwork
The cover art that accompanies your song audio plays a crucial role in your song’s discoverability on Spotify. As such, it should ideally complement the theme, tone and mood of your song.
Spotify requires song or album artwork to be encoded in lossless TIFF, PNG or JPG format with a 1:1 or square aspect ratio and sRGB color profile with no embedded color information. Minimum length should be 640 pixels, though 1,500×1,500 px and 3,000×3,000 px are popular image sizes.
Tip: Design at least four interesting images to accompany a single track, as visuals can positively impact song streams and saves.
Artists, especially early career musicians, often overlook this element when preparing their music for a Spotify upload. Your song’s metadata gives search engines like Spotify (yes, it is a search engine!), Google and Bing, the information they need to match your song with a user’s search.
Incomplete or poorly entered metadata can really hurt your song’s chances of being discovered by music lovers, so pay attention to the requirements outlined below:
Artist/ band name
Ensure that your artist name is consistent across all tracks and albums. This helps in building a recognizable brand and makes it easier for fans to find your music.
Song/ album title
Be precise with song titles. Ensure correct spelling – Avoid typos and formatting errors. This will make sure that your music is correctly categorized and easily searchable.
Credit all contributors accurately in your metadata. This includes featured main and backup artists, songwriters, technical crew and producers. Accurate crediting is crucial for both legal and ethical reasons.
Uploading a Song to Spotify
Spotify does not allow direct uploads from individual artists. While artists don’t need to be signed to a record label in order to put up their music on Spotify, they do need to use a Spotify-approved music distribution service. These services generally act as intermediaries between musicians and multiple digital streaming platforms.
Why do artists need a distributor for Spotify uploads?
Working constantly with artists, I often encounter the question, “Why do I need a distributor to put up my own music on Spotify?” There are multiple reasons for this, of which the most important are outlined below:
- Experienced music distributors ensure that an artist’s Spotify upload meets all technical requirements (audio and artwork quality, file metadata), so that their track is easily discoverable and provides listeners with a great experience.
- Distributors typically offer uploads to multiple DSPs, maximizing an artist’s reach and visibility across different audiences and world regions.
- Music distributors also double as royalty collection services, simplifying the (rather complicated) process of receiving streaming royalties; some offer the added benefit of ensuring the agreed-upon payouts to multiple song contributors, sparing artists additional book-keeping hassles.
Selecting the right music distributor
Finding the right distributor can be a powerful tool that allows you to amplify the reach of your music and at the same time and simplify the business side of your art. Here are the key factors to consider when selecting a music distribution service that ensures that your music effectively reaches the largest possible audience, not only on Spotify but across platforms and regions.
Some distributors offer a no-cost initial upload, while others may charge a sign-up fee. This fee can vary widely, so it's important to compare the upfront costs of different services, particularly when on a tight budget.
Music distributor costs vary highly, from as low as $0.99/ song to over $200/ year for artist collectives (of 30 or more). Early career artists and bands favor services combining free initial sign-up followed by a percent commission once streaming income crosses a threshold like $20 or $50.
Some services charge a distribution fee for every song, while others charge flat monthly or yearly fees, allowing unlimited song uploads during this period. Still others follow a commission model in which the provider takes a percentage of the artist’s streaming revenue; the exact percent commission differs across services, as does the income threshold before the commission must be paid.
A fourth model offers a hybrid, tiered approach, with basic and premium plans. Artists on a basic plan might have to pay higher annual fees, but are charged zero commission, while premium subscriptions might combine lower annual fees with a commission cut.
How many platforms does the distributor cater to, apart from Spotify? More importantly, which ones are they? If a potential audience for your music is likely to be found among users of smaller, more niche platforms such as Pandora or Beatport, ensure that you choose a service that includes these DSPs.
Tip: In choosing the number of platforms on which your song is available, carefully consider the balance between making your music accessible to your fans and dilution of streaming statistics (and therefore income).
It is crucial to verify the geographic coverage of a distributor. Some distributors’ networks span the globe, while others are focused on specific regions or countries. Choose a distributor whose reach covers the major regions where your music is likely to find an audience.
For example, a distributor that offers access to DSPs popular in northern European countries might be a good choice for EDM or death metal. On the other hand, a grime rap artist might do well to choose a distributor with good outreach to DSPs with greater UK listenership.
Royalty collection and splitting, payout time-line
Understanding how and when you will receive your earnings is crucial. Check the distributor's policy on royalty collection and the time-line for payouts. This can vary from monthly to quarterly payments.
If your music involves multiple contributors (for example, composers, producers, featured artists), it is advisable to choose a distributor that can handle payment splitting. This feature ensures that all parties involved receive their fair share of royalties, without the need for manual calculations or separate agreements.
Steps for uploading a song to Spotify
Now that you have zeroed in on your music distributor of choice, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the actual process for uploading a song to Spotify. The exact requirements and steps to be followed while uploading a song to Spotify vary from one music distributor to another.
However, I’ve put together a helpful checklist below for musicians to use during the upload process. Check off items on the list below to make sure that you don’t overlook any important details in getting your song up on Spotify.
Spotify song upload checklist
- Register to set up your account with your chosen distributor; be sure to use any available promo codes to get a discount on the sign-up fee
- From the list provided, select all platforms where you'd like your music to be distributed
- Choose ‘single’ as your release type (or ‘EP’ or ‘album’, whichever is applicable)
- Upload the FLAC/ WAV file of your song in the format required by your music distributor
- Choose the preview snippet of your song, either allowing streaming services to decide or specifying a start/stop point yourself
- Upload all cover art files for your song, after ensuring that they meet your distributor’s requirements (file type and size, image resolution, and so on)
- Input details regarding the song title, primary musical genre (and sub-genre if desired) and any additional information about the track
- Enter your artist (or band) name, being careful to use correct spelling
- Provide the name of the song composer (yourself or another artist/s), and make sure to credit all contributors, spelling their names correctly
- If possible, provide your legal name during the upload process for identification purposes
- Note whether your song contains explicit content or if you have a radio-friendly version
- Select the date on which you wish to release your song, EP or album
- Complete the mandatory checkboxes to agree to terms and conditions, being careful to review and select (or de-select) options as desired
- Click the "Done" or “Submit” button to complete the upload process
Claiming Your Spotify Artist Profile
Given that Spotify does not allow artists to directly upload their music, there’s a specific process before an artist can gain access to their Spotify artist profile. The exact steps and time-lines may vary across music distribution services, but the overall process is summarized below:
- Submit your song to Spotify through an authorized music distributor
- Wait for the distributor to approve your song (takes from 1 week to 1 month)
- Confirm with your distributor that your song is live on Spotify
- Go to https://artists.spotify.com/c/access and click on “claim your profile”
- Fill out the details asked for and submit the form
- Once Spotify approves your submission, a blue check mark will appear on your artist page
- Edit your profile by editing profile picture, artist bio and any other details
Spotify profile for bands
The process for uploading your band’s song to Spotify is similar to that for songs by individual artists. Claiming your band’s Spotify Artist profile, therefore, also follows a similar process.
Bands must discuss and decide upon a music distributor who fits the band’s requirements best. Following this, the band leader typically takes responsibility for submitting their song to the distributor’s website.
Keep in mind that band members must collectively take responsibility for ensuring that they provide complete and correct information to the band leader, in order to have their song go live successfully on Spotify.
Once this is accomplished, the designated band member can then claim the band’s Spotify Artist profile (see the previous section) and update the band’s profile as desired.
Thinking Ahead: Reaching Your Spotify Streaming Milestones
Now that you know exactly how to get your next song up on Spotify, it’s time to start planning ahead. Check out this helpful DeNovo post on how to reap the benefits of Spotify promotion for your songs.
If you’d like to learn more about how the DeNovo Agency can help your music get the ‘ear estate’ it deserves, don’t hesitate to drop us a message for a 100% free, no-strings-attached consultation.