It’s no secret the current music industry is a singles-driven business. That’s why we always recommend new artists release singles first, before a full album. Singles not only allow you to verify your artist profile on the streaming platforms; they can also help you get placed on playlists and build hype for future releases.
But what if you’ve already taken our advice and released a few singles and you’re ready to commit to a full album? And what if you want to add those previously released singles to said full-length, or even a short EP? Here’s how to do that smoothly and correctly.
How do I keep my play counts from my singles?
This is the main concern for most artists who want to put previously released songs on a new album. Play counts on streaming platforms are public indicators of a song’s success. Songs are often ranked on an artist’s profile by play count, so when a new listener visits your profile they’ll see your most popular songs and likely start with those.
Luckily, the answer is simple: you can keep your play counts by using the same ISRC for the single and that same track on the album.
To keep your stream counts tallied and consistent:
- Copy the ISRC for your previously released single
- Sign up your new album for distribution
- When entering ISRCs for individual tracks, paste in the single’s ISRC for the same song on the album
This of course prompts the question:
What is an ISRC?
ISRC stands for International Standard Recording Code.
From our trusty guide to music business acronyms:
“Your recording’s ISRC is used to identify that particular recording. Think of it as a digital watermark for the recording once it’s mastered and ready for distribution.”
This code is how streaming platforms track play counts for individual songs. That’s why it’s important to use the same ISRC you used on the single for that same song’s inclusion on the album.
How do I find my ISRC?
If you previously distributed the song, you already have the ISRC for it. If you don’t have that code saved in a document somewhere (you should), you can log in to your account with your distributor and locate it.
To find your ISRC in your CD Baby account, check out our Help Center article on ISRCs.
How do I add my single ISRCs to the songs on the album?
When you’re entering the information for your album, you’ll reach a point where you’ll enter the ISRCs for the songs. For the songs that were not previously released, you either acquired ISRCs from another source or are getting them assigned from your distributor (CD Baby does this for free!).
But for the song or songs that have already been distributed as singles, you don’t want to assign new ISRCs. You’ll want to use the same ISRCs. Simply enter those codes in the lines for the songs in question instead of selecting to generate new ones.
Do I need a new ISRC for a remix, radio edit or extended edit of my song?
Yes! Making a remix, radio edit or otherwise different version of your song means it’s a completely new recording. Since it’s a new recording, it requires a new ISRC.
So if you’re adding a different version of a previously released single on an album, you’ll need to assign it a new ISRC to track its numbers. You wouldn’t want listeners confusing a new mix or edit of a song with the original, right?
Does my album need a new UPC?
When you released your singles, you not only assigned ISRCs for the songs, but you also bought a UPC for each single. Why?
Let’s define what a UPC is:
What is a UPC?
From our acronym guide reference before:
“A UPC tracks sales of a product. In the music business, UPCs are assigned to singles or albums so platforms can correctly match the full release with the company that distributed it. This is different from an ISRC, which is for each recording.
Think of it this way: each individual track on an album gets an ISRC, but the entire album gets one UPC. Because the album is one collective product.”
Since your album is its own product separate from the singles you previously released, it gets its own UPC. So yes, you need a new UPC for your album, even if it contains songs that have been released as singles.
Does a bonus album or remastered album need a new UPC?
Yes, any change to a previously released album is a different product and needs a new UPC.
Does vinyl need a different UPC than CD or digital.
That depends. If you’re doing all three, yes, you’ll need a new UPC for vinyl or CD. That’s because you can only use a UPC for one physical release and its digital correspondent.
If you only distribute CD and digital, you can use the same UPC for both. Same if you’re only distributing vinyl and digital. But if you’re distributing vinyl, CD and digital, you’ll need two UPCs: one that is just for vinyl or CD, and another that is for the other physical release and digital.
How do I get a UPC?
Your best bet is to buy a UPC from your music distributor. CD Baby sells UPCs for releases, so you don’t need to shop around somewhere else for a code.
A UPC from CD Baby also has the added guarantee that it will be a valid code that has not been used before, since third-party UPC vendors are known to generate invalid or previously used UPCs.