Music Pre-Releases

Effective music promotion should start months before your release date. While social media efforts can allow your artists to gain traction, fans will want to know they’ve got great music on the way.

Pre-releases can help build excitement for your artist’s music, increase discovery, and ultimately offer more fan engagement. Below are the following types of pre-releases:

Pre-adds for Apple Music

Pre-adds allow listeners to hear one or more songs from a release before it is available for streaming on Apple Music. When a fan uses this feature, Apple Music will automatically add the complete release to their library once it's available.

To enable your release for pre-add on Apple Music, deliver a pre-order for the iTunes Store and include at least one instant-gratification track. Your release must have the following:

  • At least one instant-gratification track or music video.
  • A sales start date that is at least one day in the future from the date you’re adding the pre-order metadata and instant-gratification track.
  • Is cleared for sale in the territories you want the pre-add to be available.

For more information about instant-gratification tracks, see the iTunes Connect Music Rights and Pricing Guide.

Pre-orders for the iTunes Store

Pre-orders allow fans and listeners to purchase your release before the date of purchase. Once the release reaches its sales start date, the tracks download automatically to a customer’s library.

Be sure to follow these rules before choosing a pre-order track:

  • The sales start date must be at least one day in the future from the pre-order start date of the new instant-gratification track.
  • All instant-gratification tracks or music videos must be cleared for sale in a pre-order territory, or they will not be available.
  • The combined price of all instant-gratification tracks on an album must be lower than the album price by at least the price of one mid-tier song.

Delivering a pre-order in iTunes Producer

  1. Click the Album > Info pane for your album in the iTunes Producer package window.
  2. Select Pre-Order Previews Allowed. By default, iTunes Producer allows pre-order previews. Selecting Pre-Order Previews Allowed only affects preview availability during the pre-order period, and applies to every territory and every track. When the pre-order ends and the album is released for sale, previews are always available.
  3. Click the Album > Rights & Pricing pane for your album.
  4. Enter the date when the album will be available for pre-order sales in the selected territory in Pre-Order Sales Start Date. A pre-order sales start date is required to create a pre-order. Pre-order sales start dates can vary by territory. To apply the pre-order to all territories, press and hold the Shift key and click all territories, then edit the value in Pre-Order Sales Start Date.
  5. Click the Delivery pane. iTunes Producer processes all of the album and track details and displays any warnings or errors.
  6. Fix any delivery warnings or errors. Double-click on a warning or error to have iTunes Producer jump to the exact location of the problem.
  7. Click Deliver.

iTunes Producer packages your album and track details, and all prepared files into an iTunes Producer package and sends it to the iTunes Store. You cannot add tracks or change the pre-order track link-up or sequence once you deliver an album to the iTunes Store.

Instant-gratification tracks

Instant-gratification tracks are available for individual purchase on the iTunes Store during the pre-order period if a customer pre-orders the album. An instant-gratification song or music video can be added to a pre-order album anytime before the pre-order start date.

Once a listener purchases a pre-order, the instant-gratification track will either download automatically, or when it becomes available.

Managing instant-gratification tracks in iTunes Connect

  1. In iTunes Connect, click My Music.
  2. Search for the album you need to update.
  3. Click on the magnifying glass icon to view details of the album and to make a rights and pricing change.
  4. From the Album Summary section, select Details for the track that you are looking to edit.
  5. Click Edit Track and change the Track Type.
  6. Click Save Changes.
  7. Choose Pre-Order Track Sales Start Date and choose a date at least one day in the future from the date you’re adding the new instant-gratification song.
  8. Select a Track Price Tier (optional).
  9. Click Save Change.

You can also add instant-gratification tracks by delivering a metadata update with updated pre-order information.

Managing instant-gratification tracks via iTunes Producer or Transporter

To add more instant-gratification tracks to a pre-order:

  1. Replace the audio in iTunes Producer or Transporter.
  2. Redeliver the album.
  3. Import the new audio in the album package.

Your new audio will seamlessly be replaced in Apple Music and the iTunes Store. You must use the same UPC, EAN, and JAN, and cannot change any other attributes on the album.

For more information about instant-gratification tracks, see the iTunes Connect Music Rights and Pricing User Guide.

Album-only tracks

Album Only means that a track on the iTunes Store cannot be purchased individually and must be acquired by purchasing an album. While there are some scenarios where album-only tracks are appropriate, Apple requests that all songs are made available for sale individually.

Apple also sells tracks and albums in a manner that we believe works best and in accordance with our business practices. As a result, we may elect to mark certain tracks as Album Only. Tracks that are over 10 minutes in length are marked Album Only on the iTunes Store unless the track has been defined as a Partial Album.

Tracks can be marked Album Only when:

  • You do not have the rights to sell the song individually.
  • You only have the rights to sell the track as part of an album. For example, on soundtracks or compilations.

These requests are evaluated by our editorial team on a case-by-case basis.

Marking an album-only track

To request that a track be designated as Album Only, edit the song’s territory rights in My Music in iTunes Connect and submit an Album Only Request Form through contact us.

Apple may:

  • Choose to designate songs as Album Only.
  • Make exceptions for content providers that cannot obtain rights for every song of their album. For example, compilations.

Partial albums

If your album is available in the iTunes Store but the Buy button is missing on iOS, greyed out on macOS, or does not start a download, this is considered a partial album. Partial albums occur when:

  • The digital version of a release does not match the physical version. Another scenario is when the track count field in the metadata XML delivered via Transporter is greater than the number of tracks on the release.
  • If an album is delivered with songs or music videos marked Not Cleared for Sale, the album will appear as partial and those songs will not display. Apple Music and the iTunes Store do not permit albums with tracks in this state to be offered for sale.

Mark an album or track as complete

All tracks that exist on a physical version must be delivered and the track count must match.

For example, if the physical version has ten tracks, and the digital version only contains eight tracks, the release is considered partial and the Buy Album icon will not display on the iTunes Store.

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