How to Choose the Preview Start Time for Streaming Services - Step by Step for Common Music Distributors
In the new music industry world of home studios, streaming services and the rise of TikTok, getting people to notice your music is just as important as ever. With platforms like TikTok and Apple Music, where only a 15 second - 90 second clip of your song gets played, knowing how to get the most captivating part of your song to the listener is crucial.
Maybe you're about to start a TikTok Influencer campaign, or you're ready to release your song and want to make sure it gets noticed out of the millions of songs on Apple Music. But how do you make sure the best part of your song is the part people hear? And how do you make sure it goes out to every platform? It sounds daunting!
Don't worry, we've compiled a comprehensive guide that will walk you through selecting your song preview clip time for all the popular music distributors. Plus, we gathered screenshots and tips from our community to give you a first-hand visual guide!
But first, let's start with what this looks like from the perspective of a music streaming service. The major streaming services offering a song clip preview currently are TikTok, Apple Music and iTunes.
Which Part of Your Release Goes on TikTok
TikTok is more of a music app than appears at first glance, and it's a great tool for emerging artists. The app has its own version of an audio library. This is a collection of audio clips in the form of uploaded audio or an original song. When a user wants to add music to their TikTok video, they open the app's audio library, find their favorite song, and select it for their video clip. This is where setting up your audio clip comes into play. If you want the best chance of being an influencer's top choice for music, it helps to highlight the best part of your song. You'll even want your song in the catalog for yourself so you can make content - like when you're promoting a new music video.
Apple Music and iTunes Song Preview Start Time
If a listener is looking for new music, and they come across your song (perhaps from Apple's music recommendations), chances are they'll listen to the preview before they decide to make the purchase. They'll hop over to the iTunes store to check it out. If you've led them that far, you don't want to miss out on a would-be fan by showcasing a more lack-luster part of your track in the Apple music catalog. You can also use Apple Music's marketing tools to upload your preview to Twitter or embed it as an audio player on a website. You can read more about the marketing tools on their Apple Music for Artists support page here.
If you want to get the most out of your TikTok song clip, consider a TikTok Influencer Campaign to get more users listening to your music. Check out our 100% Organic TikTok Influencer Campaign at the link below:
TikTok Music Promotion
TikTok has exploded into a leading social media platform for influencer campaigns. A single influencer can reach up to 32 million people around the world. Our influencer marketing campaigns are designed to help you expose brand new audiences to your music or other creative work.
Now that we know what it looks like for potential listeners, let's dive in to what that looks like on your end!
You might even be wondering...
Can I pick which part of my song goes on TikTok?
The answer is very likely yes! Check our list of distributors below to see how this is possible so you can put your best foot forward with potential fans on their favorite music streaming services and social media apps!
How to Choose Your Preview Start Time for Apple Music and TikTok with Your Music Distributor:
DistroKid is one of the most popular music distributors. It's a subscription-based service that costs $19.99 a year for unlimited releases. The catch, though, is that you'll need to stay up-to-date on your subscription payments, otherwise your music will be taken down. This cost includes getting an ISRC code for your songs. If you're releasing a cover song, there's an additional option to have them handle the mechanical licenses for you. You can also get a pre-save link, which is helpful for boosting your release day stats.
Distrokid does indeed let you edit your song preview for streaming services! Under "Preview Clip Start Time" you'll select "Let me specify when the good part starts" and then choose your time. (There is also a section to add a featured artist and any alternative versions to the track title, which is nice.)
Shoutout to Chris App for sharing a screenshot so you can see what this looks like!
(Show Chris App some love and have a listen here!)
You can check out DistroKid's FAQ here.
Ditto is another subscription-based distributor option. They offer an individual plan at $19 a year with unlimited releases, and you can start with a 30 day free trial. (For our indie label owners, you can sign up for $69 a year with unlimited releases for up to 5 artists.) They don't take any backend fees and will give you an ISRC code for your song. They also have a feature they call the "Ditto Smart Link" which you can use to share your music and includes a pre-save link. Like DistroKid, though, they'll remove your music once you cancel your subscription.
You will be able to edit your preview time for your song with Ditto. Click the "edit" button next to your track in their release builder, and then changing your song preview is easy with a slider feature.
Big thanks to Lindsay White for sharing with us her screenshot and a bit about the process - "I use Ditto Music Distribution. You upload your song. To pick preview you click on the song and click view. Then you click edit metadata. Then just slide it to the 30 seconds you want to be the preview."
(Show Lindsay White some love and listen!)
Ditto also offers a walkthrough with visuals on their website here.
TuneCore is a music distributor that offers subscription options with no backend fees. It starts at free (for having your music on social media), but their lowest paid option is $14.99 a year with unlimited releases, which will get your music on Spotify. They'll generate ISRC codes for your songs only at the $29.99 a year plan. You'll need to generate your own pre-save link since TuneCore doesn't provide one. And, like the other subscription model distributors, your songs will be taken down once you end your subscription.
With TuneCore you can choose the preview time for your song on the upload form. At the bottom you'll find "TikTok Start Time" where you can select where your 60 second clip begins. They don't currently offer a way to choose your file preview for store previews.
Thanks to JD Roan for sharing a screenshot of TuneCore's process, and a bit of advice! - "I usually try to get the pre-chorus and chorus in my TikTok time window, or whichever part of the song has the best energy to go along with a visual. Bonus points if you have a hook or lyrical section that people have the flexibility to make funny vids off of."
(Show JD Roan some love and listen here!)
Labelworx is a distribution service made for independent record labels. We have some members of our community who are operating their own indie label, so this one's for you!
Check out their FAQ and instructions here.
Landr is perhaps a lesser known, or lesser used, distributor, but don't let that stop you from considering them for releasing your music. They offer more payment options than the other distributors - from pay-as-you-go at $9 a single and $29 an Album/EP plus 15% commission, to their All Access Yearly Pass at $14.99 a month. They are the only distributor that offers mastering services, and they also provide your ISRC code and UPC code, as well as a pre-save link with a landing page, for each release. Your music won't get taken down if you decide to move on. Plus, if you plan on releasing a cover song, they'll handle the mechanical licenses as an add-on.
With Landr, you'll have the option to select your preview time during their distribution wizard setup. In the "Track information" menu, after putting in information like the song title and artist names, there's a section that says "Preview Start" where you can enter in your preferred time.
Thanks to Corban Finn for sharing a screenshot of the process with Landr! - "I use LANDR mastering and distribution. It's a pretty seamless service."
(Show Corban Finn some love and listen here!)
Repost by SoundCloud
Repost by SoundCloud is another distributor option, with a pricing at $30 a year. You'll keep 100% of SoundCloud royalties and 80% of royalties from other services. They will generate an ISRC code for your song and offer a smart link.
Here are step by step instructions for changing your song preview time with Repost from one of our community members!
"The first step is when you first log in to go to distribution, it may look different depending on if you're on mobile or desktop (this is mobile)."
"On the distribution screen you will see a button to create a new release. Click this when you're ready to release and distribute a new song. (As far as I know, you can only select the preview time when creating a new release, it may be permanent once you've already released and distributed)"
"Once you've selected the song you want to release there will be an edit button as shown, click this and you can edit all the release details."
"Scroll down and you will see the "preview start time" section.
For this you will want to know the exact second of the song you want the preview to start from (it doesn't play the preview on this page).
Once you've entered all your details and selected your preview start time, you will scroll to the bottom to save and you're done!"
Shoutout to Nitro Heist, who gave a step-by-step walkthrough detailing the process with screenshots for each step!
(Show NitroHeist some love and listen here!)
Soundrop is a music distributor with an interesting, and inviting, pricing structure. It costs only $0.99 with a 15% backend commission fee to distribute a song. This includes cover song licensing, royalty splits and an ISRC code for your track. They also offer a pre-save link via free access to Show.co.
To edit your song clip start time, click the dropdown for "Advanced info" and then enter your start time in seconds.
Shoutout to Alessandra Waczek for sharing a screenshot of changing the song clip start time with Soundrop!
(Show Alessandra some love and listen here!)
Check out Soundrop's FAQ here.
Symphonic Distribution is an application-based distributor, so you’ll have to apply from their website to use their services. They don't charge a signup fee but instead take 15% of earnings. They offer cover song licensing for $14.99 per license, and if you’re in the U.S. you can apply to have them distribute physical copies of your music to retailers. You’ll also be able to submit your lyrics for free and get pre-save links for $9.99 a month.
When you’re submitting your tracks for release, look under “Edit Track” and you’ll find “Clip Start Time” where you can enter the time you want the preview to start. With Symphonic Distribution, the length for a TikTok clip is currently set at 30 seconds and can’t be adjusted.
Thanks a ton to Andrew Cornwall for sharing a screenshot with us!
(Show Andrew some love and have a listen.)
Check out Symphonic Distribution's TikTok guide here.
Distributors That Don't Let You Edit Your Song Preview Clip
At the time of writing this post, there are a couple of distributors who haven't yet added the feature of editing your song preview through the distributor's upload form.
CDBaby is another popular distributor option. Their pricing model is completely different from a lot of distributors, with a single, one-time fee starting at $9.95 a single or $29 an album plus a 9% backend commission. Because of this pricing structure, your music won't get taken down if you decide to move on. With CDBaby, you will get an ISRC code for your tracks, and you'll have the option of getting a pre-save link with their pro services.
CDBaby currently doesn't offer a way to customize the preview for Apple Music or the TikTok music library. For TikTok, a 60 second section of your song is automatically chosen by TikTok's algorithms. You and other users then choose a 15 second clip from this 60 second preview from inside the app.
You can read more about how this works on CDBaby's FAQ here.
Spinnup is a now invite-only distributor with an interesting pricing structure that combines pay-as-you-go and a yearly fee, at $9 a release. Since you're paying a yearly release fee, you'll want to have all of your songs planned to release that year ready at the time of payment. If you decide not to continue the yearly subscription, your music will be taken down. They do give you an ISRC code for your track, but they don't currently offer a pre-save.
Spinnup is another distributor that doesn't currently offer the ability to choose your preview section for your release.
You can read about it on their FAQ here.
If this is you, and your distributor doesn't let you pick your song clip time for TikTok, reach out to one of our team members at [email protected] about how we can still help you make the most of your music on the app with our Organic TikTok Influencer Services!
There you have it - how to set your preview start time for your song from the most popular music distributors! Now you're ready to release your song or launch that TikTok campaign with confidence that potential fans will be hearing the best of what you have!