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Solved: How Much It Costs To Release A Song (Beginner’s Guide!)

By Matthew Vultaggio

May 10, 2023

Whether you’re a seasoned musician or just starting out, this guide will help you navigate the cost of releasing a song and make informed decisions about your music career.

It can cost between $0 and $2,500+ to properly record and release a song from scratch – including recording, distribution, artwork, and promotion costs. Your costs will depend on what tasks you are able to complete yourself and what tasks you need to hire a professional to help you with.

Personally, I took the time to learn how to do all the tasks needed to record and release music myself over the years and so only spend around $100 – $200 per release on ad spend for Facebook & Instagram ads.

In this guide for complete beginners, we’ll break down all of the costs for all of the tasks needed to record and release music properly – including minimum, maximum, and DIY options for each task.

Total Cost Breakdown For Independent Artists To Release A Song

Ultimately, there are 4 main costs you’ll need to be aware of when releasing a song: recording, artwork, distribution, and promotion costs.

Before going into more detail, here is a chart breaking down these 4 costs with different minimum and maximum average costs:

Recording$100 – $2000+$0.00
Photos & Artwork$50 – $500+$0.00
Distribution$0 – $100+$0.00
Promotion$0 – $2000+$0.00
Total Costs$50 – $2500+$0.00
Costs to release a song as an independent artist

From recording and mixing to mastering and distribution, each step in the release process can come with its own set of costs.

As a musician, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the expenses involved in releasing a song in order to properly plan and budget.

So, let’s dive into each of these in more detail, my friend!

Recording Costs To Release A Song

The cost of recording a song can vary greatly depending on what you can do yourself and what you absolutely need to outsource to professionals.

If you are able to record, mix and master yourself then it can cost $0.00 to record a song, while recording a song can cost anywhere between $100 to $2,000+ to record a song if you need to rely heavily on outsourcing.

Here’s a table breaking down some of the average minimum and maximum costs for recording a release-worthy song:

Rehearsals$10 – $50 /hour$0.00
Recording Studio$20 – $500 /hour$0.00
Equipment Rentals$20 – $200 /day$0.00
Session Musicians$50 – $500 /hour$0.00
Mixing$100 – $1500 /song$0.00
Mastering$30 – $300 /song$0.00
Recording costs breakdown

Personally, I’ve learned how to write, record, mix, and master my own music so that it costs me $0.00 to completely record a song that is ready to be distributed.

Including the laptop I use and some of the software I use to record music, I’ve probably spent around $5000 over the course of 15 – 20 years.

Photo & Artwork Costs

The cost of creating artwork for a music release can vary depending on the complexity and style of the artwork, the experience and reputation of the artist or designer, and the number of revisions required.

Generally, the cost to create artwork for a music release can range from $50 to $500+ but it is also possible to do it yourself with free tools like Pexels, Canva, and even modern AI tools like Midjourney.

Personally, I go with the free tool method here and use a combination of Pexels, Canva, and (sometimes) Midjourney to create all of the artwork for my releases:

Some of the artwork for my releases as Best Friends Club

The only exception to the rule here is when I release music with a record label. In those instances, the record label usually handles the sourcing and creation of the artwork.

Music Distribution Costs To Release A Song

The cost to distribute music can range from $0 to $100 or more per release. With that said, the cost of distributing music can vary depending on the distribution method and the specific music distributor used.

There are some free music distributors, however, you should know that they will take a cut of the royalties that you earn in return.

Personally, I use DistroKid which allows me to release unlimited songs and albums to all of the major streaming services for around $35 per year.

When choosing a music distributor I recommend looking at 3 factors:

  1. Do they let you release unlimited music for a small annual fee?
  2. Are they fast to get your music to streaming services?
  3. Are they reliable and dependable?

If you need help choosing, check out my guide on the best music distribution services. 🙂

Music Promotion Costs To Release A Song

The cost to promote a song can range from $0 to $100s to $10,000s (or more). How much it will cost you will depend on how much you are doing yourself, how much you are outsourcing to others, and what your tolerance for spending is.

On the low end, you can get away with simply using word-of-mouth and scheduling social media posts to promote your music for free. However, this will likely give you limited results.

On the high end, it is possible to pay for ads or hire a person or agency to promote your music. This can cost anywhere from $100s to $1000s depending on what you end up choosing.

Personally, I promote my music by running low-budget Facebook Ads for musicians that cost me between $100 – $200 per release in ad spend (no other costs go into this).

I also schedule social media posts using these free Canva templates that I’ve created (but this promo is mostly for nurturing my current fans and doesn’t do as much to get the word out compared to the ads).

Some of my favorite music marketing tools

Thank you for reading this article, my friend, and I hope you found it helpful as you build your own successful career in music. 🙂

Click here to see a list of my favorite and most recommended tools and resources that I’ve personally used to get my music streamed over 5,000,000 times on Spotify as an artist (called Best Friends Club).

Any of the paid services or tools listed here are most likely affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a small commission. 🤗

But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I personally use, love, and recommend to anyone – including my own friends and family.

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