Sat, 25 Jul 2015

Releasing a Sound Recording in 2015

Some notes on releasing an album in 2015...

The Internet is primarily visual

The Internet is a more visual medium than an auditory one. An image for the artist and the album matter when releasing an album online using digital services.


Many elements of a release can now be outsourced: CD replication, digital distribution.

CD Replication

Manufacturing and warehousing a batch of CDs to ship oneself to buyers is probably unwise, when one can leverage just-in-time replication services like Kunaki is a better decision.

Kunaki offers software (Windows only) that helps properly format album artwork for CD and jewel case replication. Audio is submitted to Kunaki by inserting a Red Book standard CD which is then copied during the design process. The help page states that "the software will copy the exact image (bit copy) without modifications", but there are known issues with copying CD-Text and ISRC data from the master. Kunaki states that they do not support CD-Text. Others have claimed to have worked around the issue. Kunaki's software creates an .exe which becomes the "master copy" which is then uploaded to Kunaki's facility to complete the design process.

I used the UPC generated from DistroKid. Using a free online barcode generator, I created a UPC-A image. Using GIMP, I scaled the image down to 1.375" across per a recommended spec and added it to my tray card design.

Online Album Databases

Gracenote (CDDB)

To submit my album to Gracenote (CDDB), I downloaded QMP (Quintessential Media Player + Media Library 5.0) [qmp_5.0.121.exe]. When starting for the first time with a CD in the disk drive, the software prompts for Gracenote submission.


To submit my album to FreeDB, I downloaded Exact Audio Copy (EAC) [eac-1.1.exe]. After configuration, I edited the CD information, selected the metadata provider as "Built-in freedb engine" and submitted the metadata by clicking the mailbox icon.

AMG (All Music Guide)



Under the 1976 Copyright Act, a work is automatically protected by copyright when it is created. A work is created when it is "fixed" in a copy for the first time. The creation date is not necessarily the same as the publication date; publication is the distribution of copies of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership or by rental, lease, or lending.

The copyrights between a musical composition and a sound recording are different, but a copyright can be obtain concurrently for both using the same filing process. The U.S. Copyright Office offers electronic copyright filing through their Electronic Copyright Office (eCO) system. It is better to submit the copyright for the unpublished work, as then only 1 complete phonorecord needs to be submitted.

To enter my sole proprietorship DBA as a claimant, I followed the instructions during the application and entered a "Note to Copyright Office" on the Certification screen as required.

The fee for submitting a sound recording copyright application is $55 as of July 28th, 2015.

Because a musical composition and a sound recording are a different copyright altogether, there are different symbols to denote which kind of copyright: ℗ for a sound recording, © for a musical composition. I copyrighted the sound recording in the inside insert of the CD artwork using the following format:

© 2015 <psuedonym>
℗ 2015 <sole proprietorship DBA name>

On Windows XP, there is no system font that contains the sound recording copyright symbol, so I had to make my own using this procedure:

Creating a Sound Recording Copyright Symbol using Windows Character Map

Helpful Documents

Circular 1 - Copyright Basics
Circular 3 - Copyright Notice
Circular 50 - Copyright Registration for Musical Compositions
Circular 56 - Copyright Registration for Sound Recordings
Circular 56A - Copyright Registration of Musical Compositions and Sound Recordings
Sound Recordings as Works Made for Hire
Copyright - Help: Author - Doing Business As
Copyright - Help: Author - Pseudonymous Work
Copyright Search

Digital Distribution

If Derek Sievers recommends DistroKid for digital distribution into online stores, it's probably the way to go. Will be nice when they get an API to prevent having to type all the album metadata into their upload form.

DistroKid provides a free UPC.

I opted not to add my music to Spotify for the time being.

DistroKid does not submit to Pandora, that is done via a submission page. You must have an online presence first before applying.

Bandcamp is a very artist friendly distribution site, with pay-what-you-want models if desired. I use it!


I chose to sign up with BMI, for free.


I thought there was a way to upload a playlist of songs whose "video" is the album cover?

Music artists and album promotion


Purchase a cool .audio domain or find another cool TLD.


BMI (registered)
All Music Guide


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