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ALBUM RELEASE CHECKLIST

ALBUM RELEASE CHECKLIST
By Bob D’eith
President
Adagio Media
Adagio Music Inc.
 
(excerpt from ” A Career In Music – The Other 12 Step Program) Adagio Music Inc.
 

Prior to releasing any sound recordings to the public, consider the checklist set out below. In fact, many of the items on this checklist need to be taken care of months before the actual street release date, so if you can build these into your Business Plan timeline milestones, then you may find that you do not miss one of the key release requirements.

Distribution

How are you planning to get the release out? There are some easy ways to access online retailers like iTunes by using an aggregator such as Tunecore or CD Baby. Remember that just because you can select “world” for digital distribution, does not mean that you should. Make sure that you have a plan for whatever territory that you are releasing to. Also, consider that if you do get a label interested in another territory, they will want the digital rights. If you have released in their territory, the album would be considered “old” and you have to go through the hassle of trying to delete the album in that territory after the fact.

As far as physical distribution, with retailers going out of business around the world, you may not want to rush into a physical distribution deal. You really have to look at the advantage of doing so. Most of your CD sales will be off-the-stage and mail order.

Make sure that you give yourself sufficient time to set up the release, building in time to manufacture and ship product.

Band/Group/Ensemble Agreement

Band/Group/Ensemble agreement for live performance, songwriting, sales, merchandise, band name ownership, leaving members, new members;

Register sole proprietorship, partnership or limited company

Legal

Do you have a signed producer agreement?
Do you have a mechanical license for any cover songs recorded on your album (CMRRA for Canada)?

Do you have an agreement from any side-players on the recording clearly assigning their performance rights and agreeing that they did not write or co-write any of the songs (if applicable)?

Do you have a songwriting agreement that clearly addresses copyright ownership, administration and songwriting splits? This is particularly important if you co-write with songwriters outside of your band or group. If you can secure the right to administer the copyrights in the songs that would be ideal. Being able to sign film and TV synch licenses and deal with mechanical licensing could end up being a vital right to secure.

Composing/Songwriting

Determine composition/songwriter splits in writing (songwriting agreement); Register songs with SOCAN (work notification forms online SOCAN); Ensure that Private Copying royalties are being collected (i.e. sign agreement with SOCAN to collect these royalties);

Make sure that MAPL CANCON (see below) notifications are on all releases of the song for radio purposes;

Register musical work copyrights with Library of Congress in Washington, DC – this can be done concurrently with sound recording to save filing fees http://www.copyright.gov/ register/ (and/or with Copyright Board of Canada which registers titles of songs http:// www.cb-cda.gc.ca/info/registration- e.html);

Sound Recordings

Ensure that ISRC codes (from Connect Music Licensing formerly AVLA) are digitally encoded on the final master recording (keep these numbers for release information to online distributor);

Set up online release with plenty of time to allow for the tracks to get up online;
If the artist has a distributor, then find out what the distributor requires with part delivery.

Register tracks with Connect Music Licensing formerly AVLA (as label or sound recording owner) and ACTRARACS or MROC (as performers, whether lead or sidemen) to ensure the artist receives both sides of the Neighbouring Rights revenue from radio play and the Private Copying Levy royalties;

Register tracks with Sound Exchange in order to receive royalties on digital cable and satellite radio play in the USA (deal with IRS issues surrounding W8BEN or W8BEN-E forms);

Register sound recordings with Library of Congress in Washington, DC – include songs as well to save on filing fees (sound recordings cannot be registered with Copyright Board of Canada);

Digital and CD artwork

For CDs, make sure that your graphic designer has design specs from manufacturer and that delivery is made precisely as required (otherwise, your release manufacturing may be significantly delayed);

Place copyright notices on all formats released. If CD, then place © and (p) information on actual disk as well as tray card;

Ensure that there is sufficient contact information on all formats to reach the artist, management, label and/or publisher. This is important to ensure that in the event a third party wants to secure licensing, that the correct parties are approached;

MAPL CANCON notification on all physical formats and tray card. This is a graphic that tells radio whether you are considered Canadian Content. The breakdown is music (songwriter Canadian), artist (Artist is Canadian), production (produced in Canada) and lyrics (lyricist is Canadian). You need to be able to black in at least 2 out of the four of these on the MAPL graphic to be considered CANCON. This is important because in most cases stations are required to play 35% Canadian music content;

Secure bar code (usually from manufacturer or distributor) and create catalogue number for all physical format releases; Bar code must appear on the tray card or back of the CD. Catalogue numbers are usually on the spine. If you do not have a CD spine, then this can be added to the tray card as well.

The tray card or back of the CD is important and should include (a) song titles and song times, (b) name of artist, (c) MAPL logo (blacked in where appropriate), (d) legal notices,

(e) bar code, and (f) contact information.

Place producer and credit information on insert – credit should include producer, engineer, studio, mixer, songwriter credits, mastering house, photographer, graphic designer;

Use care with thank-yous to include individuals and companies who helped the artist; Place website address on all insert materials;

Make sure that all song titles with times are included on tray card – this is important, especially for radio and other third party uses that require the song times;

Secure any mechanical licenses prior to release (cover song licenses). If the artist is also the writer, then the artist can also provide this. If there are third party co-writes or covers are being released, then the artist/label can go to the CMRRA to secure the mechanical licenses:

CMRRA Song Clearance (note: if the co-writer is not published, then artists may have to secure a mechanical license directly from the co-writer by agreement). Manufacturers require mechanical licenses prior to pressing.

Marketing and Promotion

Create a marketing plan that sets out a clear strategy for marketing and promoting the artist, including radio, video, touring, online promotion, publicity and other such marketing initiatives;

Create a time-line for the release and marketing. Make sure that all components of the plan are implemented in a manner that maximizes the impact of the release;

Consider hiring a radio tracker to release and track radio for the artist; Consider hiring a publicist to help with the release and touring;

Create a website which has a place for fans to sign up for newsletters on the home page. Make sure that the content is current and kept current at all times. Keep away from heavy flash sites – allow for HTML cut and paste options. Create an area for hi-res photo downloads for press – (pass protect if necessary). Make sure that there is an easy way to purchase product from the artist – Paypal or links to iTunes;

Create a presence online including Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all other services that may be effective to promote the artist. Be vigilant in responding to friends and fans. Always personalize and try to avoid mass emails or notices;

Consider monetizing your online marketing. For example, YouTube allows you to monetize by approving advertising on your YouTube videos. You will have to register with Google AdSense. Keep in mind, however,  that the expectation of revenue needs to be modest. It is estimated that you need approximately 1 million views to generate $1,500 of revenue from YouTube views.

Create a classy newsletter that gets sent out at least once per month via email; Work with agents to secure touring and support dates;

Apply for festivals and showcases through Sonic Bids or through an agent;

Make sure that all tracks are serviced to film, TV,and video game music supervisors for inclusion in productions.

Merchandise and off-the-stage sales

Consider the registration of the artist name and/or trade names or marks with Trade Mark Office. This is an online application that can be completed relatively cheaply. Note that over time, fees will increase for a registration and the process can take up to two years;

Put a lot of thought into the merchandise being offered. Stay simple and have only a few options to start. Once key successful merchandise has been established, then diversify into other merchandising choices. Do not over-extend inventory. Do not give away product unnecessarily as merchandise is more expensive than CDs.

It is very, very important to be able to prove your sales. FACTOR requires proof of sales for many of its programs. The most reliable sales reporter is SoundScan. The cost is $500 per year and you need to file SoundScan sheets with SoundScan to have those sales registered. You will need to register your release with SoundScan SoundScan title registration If you cannot get your sales registered with SoundScan then consider setting up another form of proof of sales. An inventory sheet signed by the venue owner or promoter of each show would be helpful, but may not work with FACTOR and other funders such as Radio Starmaker.

For more information or to order the book ” A Career In Music – The Other 12 Step Program) Adagio Music Inc. go to

http://www.adagiomusic.ca/

 

 

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