Anyone who has ever wanted to distribute their own music knows how important being on the iTunes Store is. So, quite naturally, one might find themselves on Google searching for the following terms (for the most part):
- how to sell music on itunes
- how to put music on itunes
- how to get music on itunes
- how to sell songs on itunes
- how to put songs on itunes
- how to get songs on itunes
One of the very first things you may come across is a web page from Apple saying you should get an iTunes Connect account. Well, let me assure you, this is a lot easier said than done! Right now, let’s not even get into the differences between the iTunes App, the iTunes Store, iTunes Connect, and iTunes Producer. We’ll move along under the assumption you have some type of understanding towards that…
First off, even as you’re applying, you probably don’t realize that the following 3 things are going to happen right after you apply:
- Apple is going to check whether or not you applied from an Apple Computer (like an iMac). If you applied from anything but an iMac then you can forget it! However, they won’t reject you immediately. That brings us to our second problem…
- It’s going to take them 3-6 months to get back to you on whether or not you are “worthy” enough to have an iTunes Connect account, and there’s a 99.9% chance that you are not worthy. Which brings us to our thrid point…
- Apple is going to do a background check. I don’t mean a criminal background check or anything of that sort. I mean, they are going to research you and your “company” to see if you “qualify”. Chances are you don’t and here’s why…
Now, I don’t mean to put a dark cloud over your head and discourage your efforts but facts are facts. Apple prefers to deal with big name companies and people who know what they’re doing. In order for Apple to consider you a distributor, they’ll be looking at some key things. Here’s some questions you should be asking yourself before you bring yourself before “The Great Oz”… I mean Apple…
- How long have you been in the music distribution business? – If you’re just starting out in this field then there’s no way in hell Apple’s going to consider you a distributor worthy of an iTunes Connect account. Most of the distributors Apple deals with have been in the music business for decades and even the digital distribution companies have been hovering around since 2003 when the iTunes Store was first opened.
- How many artists do you represent? – How many artists are represented within your catalog? If it’s less than 300 artists then there’s no way in hell Apple’s going to consider you a distributor worthy of an iTunes Connect account. Most distributing labels have 1,000s of artists in their catalog.
- How many songs are in your catalog? – If it’s less than 2,000 then there’s no way in hell Apple’s going to consider you a distributor worthy of an iTunes Connect account. I’d say 2,000 tracks is the bare minimum and you have to realize that some of these distribution companies have millions of tracks from thousands of artists in their catalog.
- Are you business savvy? – Do you speak “the language”? The people at Apple (especially the ones working at iTunes) are not stupid. They can spot a fake when they see one. If you fill out applications and send them messages which might make it appear as if you have trouble understanding and using “the lingo” then you can forget doing any business in the music business, and that goes double for the music distribution business.
- Do you know how to properly format audio and image files? – If you don’t submit files to Apple’s specs then there’s no way in hell Apple’s going to consider you a distributor worthy of an iTunes Connect account.
So, after all is said and done, you would’ve probably wasted 3-6 months of your life wondering why Apple rejected your application. What they’ll do next is ask you to sign up with an aggregator (distribution company) that deals with independent artists and labels. Obviously, Apple would much rather deal with a larger company with a delivery system already in place than to deal with a new fish who doesn’t know what they are doing. You may see them suggest the following companies: ADED.US, CD Baby, TuneCore, ReverbNation, etc.. Of those companies, ADED.US (http://www.aded.us) (a/k/a ADEDistribution) is by far the cheapest and easiest to work with for those of you starting out. They have plenty of information to guide you through the distribution process, including how to properly format your files. The other distributors can get a bit pricey and they tend to move a bit slower when it comes to processing your material and making royalty payments back to you.
If you were to somehow manage to get an iTunes Connect account then Apple would expect you to do the following:
- Sign contracts (with proper banking info) with all the various stores in all the various countries
- Have UPC and ISRC numbers for each and every song and album in your catalog
- You would be given access to an app called iTunes Producer to help you send (deliver) your catalog to the iTunes Store for ingestion. Apple will expect you to know how to fully operate this software before you can successfully send them your catalog.
Well, I hope this article has helped clarify the “do’s and don’ts” versus the “needs and wants” of what it’s like trying to get an iTunes Connect account. Y’all come back now, ya hear?!?