Is Self-Release Right for You?

Self-release can be extremely challenging since you’re the only one in charge of all the countless activities you have to perform for a successful release. However, at the same time, if you get it right, you can have amazing results.


1. DON’T use self-release as a last resort. Many producers decide to self-release a song as a rebound after being rejected by many labels, but that can be a mistake. If more than four labels rejected your song, there MAY be a problem with your song that you’re not seeing. This is not necessarily true, but it’s something to consider… Why didn’t those labels take your song? If it’s a quality issue, self-releasing this song will only put a ‘bad song’ into the world, and sometimes waiting could be the best scenario for you.

2. If you’re going for a self-release, plan it from the beginning and you can have amazing results with it. I have tons of friends who only self-release, like Shikimo and Kepik. Shikimo has had amazing results and has gotten over 600k plays on one of his synthwave songs, while Kepik has had over 1.1 Million plays on his future bass version of Jar of Hearts on Spotify. However, that only comes with MASSIVE promo efforts, either by promoting the demo to lots of playlists and blogs and/or by having consistent releases, which helps Spotify’s algorithm choose your song for Editorial Playlists. In any case, self-release can definitely be a successful path if you do your marketing correctly and plan your releases consistently.

3. Find a distributor that better suits you and stick with it. Before you even have a song to start self-releasing, do some research on what is the best distributor for your specific situation. A couple of things to consider: (1) Understand how their business models work, how they pay you your royalties, and what marketing tools they have or you could have problems in the future: For example, with CDBaby, you pay per release, and your release is there forever, while with Distrokid you pay per year for unlimited releases, but your releases are only active until you cancel your subscription (or pay an even higher fee to be there forever); (2) If you’re outside of the US, some US-based distributors may be forced to withhold 30% for federal US Taxes, so that means minus 30% royalties, which can be a deal-breaker, so understand where is your distributor located and if they withhold anything from you; (3) Try to commit to one distributor to avoid having to check multiple distributors for multiple songs, or that could be more work for you in the future. Read more about distributors over here and more on other ways to make money in the music industry over here.

4. Lastly, you have to develop a marketing plan for your self-release. When doing a self-release, you’ll be the one doing all the promo for it. In addition to sending all the promos, which you can learn how to build a promo list in this post, you need to plan all the assets for your release. Here’s a small checklist of what you’ll need: Cover Photo; find a distributor for your song, plan and execute the marketing campaigns to promote the release, which you can see in this post; send emails to blogs and Spotify playlists for placements; Social Media Videos; Tik Tok Videos; Advertisements; Track description; among others. If you want a schedule to help you use these checklist items for your releases, feel free to grab it in our free downloads section.


Is Self-Release right for you?
1. Do you want to maintain all the rights over your song?
2. Do you have to have total control over the marketing campaigns and, more importantly, over the creative decisions of your songs?
3. Do you understand that you will need to do all the work to promote your release?
4. Do you understand that your first self-releases may not do so well and that consistency will be key to leveling up your stats?
If you answered yes to all these questions, you should definitely consider self-release as an option for your next track. As said, just make sure you’re not using it as a rebound for failed attempts to sign it to a label.

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Leo Lauretti

Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, Leo Lauretti has been producing since 2013. With releases on SONY Music, Armada, Enhanced Music, Leo Lauretti accumulates multiple supports from artists like Above & Beyond, Ferry Corsten, Cosmic Gate, Nicky Romero, and many others all over the world.

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