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Music Release Inspection List

This is a list to ensure you submit your release properly and ensure you are following best practices. This article has been drafted using both Apple & Spotify Metadata style guides, and contains information that is deemed most relevant to ensure release(s) do not get rejected by the DSPs. 

Please ensure that you review the full metadata style guides.

You can learn more about Spotify Apple’s Metadata Style Guide here.

1. Cover Art

When submitting cover art for your releases, it’s crucial to avoid the use of trademarks, including logos and product names. Ensure that your content doesn’t violate any copyrighted terms.

1.1 Advertising and Metadata Guidelines

Cover art, audio, and metadata should not contain advertising or references to competitors. Avoid website addresses, logos, QR codes, and any promotional content.

1.2 Editorial Corrections

Be aware that Apple Music and Spotify reserve the right to correct errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation in your cover art and metadata.

1.3 Completeness of Albums and Tracks

Ensure that all tracks from the physical version are delivered, matching the track count. Incomplete albums may be marked as “Partial”.

1.4 Content Restrictions

Ensure that cover art does not contain explicit content, pornography, or promote hatred based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or other identities.

2. Artwork Quality and Guidelines

2.1 Accuracy

Submit the original cover art that accurately represents the content. Avoid generic templates or misleading images that do not match the actual album.

2.2 Image Quality

Maintain high-quality images without issues such as pixelation, misalignment, or rotation.

2.3 Additional Information

Exclude references to audio file formats in the artwork. Steer clear of terms like Atmos, Dolby Atmos, spatial audio, lossless, high-resolution audio, etc. 

3. UPC and Duplicate Prevention

If your release(s) has been previously distributed before, please add the UPC for the release(s) that have already been distributed to prevent the creation of duplicates.

4. Language and Localizations Metadata Guidelines

 4.1 Metadata Language

Set the appropriate language in the metadata at both the album and track levels to ensure accurate accents and capitalizations. The release metadata language must match the language of the metadata. For example, if you’ve entered metadata in Spanish, the metadata language should be set to Spanish.

 4.2 Track Audio Language

Specify the audio language at the track level, ensuring language codes match the spoken or sung language in the audio.

4.3 Localizations

Enhance discoverability by providing artist and title metadata in the primary language. Accurate localization should be provided for all available languages.

5. Release Title Formatting Guidelines

Accurate Titles

Ensure release titles are accurate and formatted correctly. Avoid generic titles and unnecessary information like version details, exclusivity, or audio specifications. 

Do not use emoji in titles, artist names, lyrics, or other metadata.

Titles must not include Exclusive, Limited Edition, Album Version, Original Mix, Tone, Alert Tone, Text Tone, Ringtone, Ringtone Version, E-Release, Digital Only, Digital Download, Digital Single, E-Album, 2 CD Set, With Lyrics, Clips from, Official Music Video, Full Song Video, Full Version, Atmos, Dolby Atmos, lossless, high-resolution audio, high resolution, spatial audio, 24-bit, 192 kHz, 128 kHz, or 96 kHz, or any other variation.

6. Title Version and Track Version Information

6.1 Album Version Information

Use album title versions to indicate the correct version when multiple versions exist.

6.2 Multiple Version References

For content requiring multiple references, use parentheses (”( )”) and brackets (”[ ]”) in titles to maintain clarity.

ExampleAll of Me (Tiësto’s Birthday Treatment Remix) [Radio Edit]

6.3 Track Version Differentiation

Differentiate multiple track versions using terms in parentheses or brackets, such as Live, Instrumental, Radio Edit, Extended, Session Date Version (for example, 1947 Version), Incomplete, Rehearsal, Breakdown, Male Version, TikTok Version, Sped Up, Slowed Down, Lo-Fi, etc.

  • Rerecorded Versions: If a track is rerecorded, the track title must include “Rerecorded.”
  • Soundtrack Version Information: If the tracks are compiled from different soundtracks, each track title must indicate the soundtrack (From “Soundtrack Name”).
  • Live Recording Version Information: If the audio is from a live recording, the title version must be indicated as “Live.” Territory-specific versions (”Ao Vivo” in Portuguese, and “En Vivo” or “En Directo” in Spanish) should be used.
  • Silent, hidden, and ghost tracks must be clearly labeled in the track title. Example: Open My Eyes (Ghost Track)

6.4 Explicit Content Flagging

Explicit content must be appropriately flagged, and clean versions should be marked as such.

  • Explicit content terms like (Explicit), “(Explicit Version),” “(Dirty),” or “(Dirty Version)” must not be used for album or track titles.
  • Clean version terms like “(Clean),” “(Clean Version),” “(Edited),” or “(Edited Version)” must not be used for album or track titles.

Censoring Words:

Album and track titles must be submitted in the original form that was intended by the artist

Explicit words are automatically censored on Apple Music and the iTunes Store (for example, F**k or S**t).

Do not insert the asterisks yourself.

7. Artist Information Guidelines

7.1 Primary Artist

Ensure the correct spelling of the main primary artist. If your artist has an existing Spotify or Apple Artist ID, please ensure to add it to the metadata. If not, select the option to create a new profile for the artist.

7.2 Artist Roles

Assign roles like Composer, Featuring/With, Lyricist, Performer, Primary, Soloist, Songwriter, and Various Artists appropriately. 

Please note that a release with 4 or more Primary Artists will automatically be classified as “Various Artists”.

7.3 Remixes and Compound Artists

Handle remixes, compound artists, and multiple roles with care to maintain accuracy.

8. Genre and Secondary Genre Guidelines

8.1 Genre Identification

Ensure correct genre identification in metadata. Avoid conflicting genres that do not relate to the primary genre.

8.2 Secondary Genre Relation

Maintain a logical relation between primary and secondary genres. Secondary genres should complement the primary genre.

9. Localization and Track Audio Language Guidelines

9.1 Localization Importance

Provide artist and title metadata in the primary language for better discoverability. Accurate localization should be provided for all available languages.

9.2 Track Audio Language

Specify the audio language at the track level, matching the spoken or sung language in the audio.

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