It is suggested to reupload the new version of the song and let it go live and link to the old version before you remove the old song.
The metadata will need to be the same and the key to getting the play counts to link is to use the same ISRC code as the old release. If your distrubutor does not show you the ISRC code in the information about the release you may need to contact them so that way when you re-release it you can enter the same code.
First, re-upload the new content with identical audio and metadata, e.g. the same audio, ISRC code, track title, artist name and duration. The new version can have a different UPC code.
To avoid content availability gaps, take down the old version a couple of days after the new version goes live. Providing you deliver the new version with the same metadata, track linking will be successful and play counts will be transferred across.
When the releases are linked, they will be combined into one album page. Then at the bottom right of the album page in the desktop app, there will be a black button that says "1 more release" or something to show that there are different versions.
So yeah, once you have confirmed the play counts have linked, you can take down the old release and it will take a few days to be removed.
If the play counts have not been linked after a few days, do not remove the old release yet. You will need to contact artist support and mention you would like the play count on the new release to be linked to the old release. https://artists.spotify.com/contact You might not get a reply so keep checking your artist page to see if they have been linked.
Then after you can confirm that Spotify has linked the releases you can remove the old one.
To take this a bit deeper....
If 10 thousand people have that song saved in their personal playlists... or if that song is on other playlists... will it still be there after you do this? THAT is the part that would affect an artists future play-counts the most!
Does using the same ISRC code work with changing your artist name? Like say distribute the same audio via CD Baby using a different artist name but using the same ISRC code. Any idea if that would work?
Yes, if someone has the song saved to their library or the song is in a playlist, it stays there. It links to the new version automatically like magic (if the songs linked correctly) if the songs don't link and they never successfully link, then the old songs are still saved and still in the playlist, they will just be greyed out and unplayable as it is unavailable.
MattSudaRock Star 24
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Using the same ISRC code alone is not enough to guarantee a link. The metadata such as artist, song title, song length, similar audio file, etc also play a role in if it links, and each piece of metadata that doesn't match decreases the chance of it being linked.
Your best bet is to reupload the song/abum with the same ISRC code and song title and everything with the new artist name and if it doesn't link, you can try to contact support:
I haven't used any other 3rd party distributors, but I know that when you distribute a song or album through CD Baby, you have the option to add additional artists. Maybe if you follow Matt's instructions by keeping the audio, info, and song title the same, while adding your old artist name as an additional artist, it will link the song.
If you do try this, report back! I'm curious to know for the future.