The Why and How to successfully distribute your music Independently
So you’ve written your song, had it mixed and mastered, and now it’s time to release your music to the world. But how do you distribute music? As an independent artist, this may seem daunting. However, in today’s day and age, it’s never been easier to put your music on the largest streaming services and music platforms available.
Distributing music is the path between your finished record and your current and future fans. As an artist, digital distribution needs to be something you focus on for every release. Smart and tidy distribution will grow your visibility. Distributing your music puts your tracks into as many ears as possible.
Thanks to digital distribution services, independent artists have made comfortable livings from their music without having to sign their masters over to a record label with a traditional record deal. This freedom opens up endless possibilities for independent artists around the globe.
What is Digital Music Distribution?
Music distribution is how music gets delivered to the listener. In the past, distributors would enter into agreements with record labels to distribute their media to stores, Best Buy, Target, Exclusive Company, etc. However, with digital distribution, this all changed. By distributing digitally, artists have cut out the middle-men allowing themselves to keep 100% of their royalties.
How Music Distribution Works:
In the past, distributors placed records into stores and labels convinced the public to buy those records through marketing. Through this distribution chain, middlemen took their percentage and the artist percentage dwindled.
This model is still alive today, to some extent. Most fans are consuming music digitally and not purchasing physical copies. Therefore the distribution means have changed. Today, physically distributed copies of albums focus on the top-selling records for a label.
As an artist, your goal should be to place your music on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play and all the other major streaming platforms and digital music stores. Think of these as digital music stores.
Once your music is in them, people can stream, download, and buy your songs directly to their device. In exchange for listening to your music or buying it, you received royalties (payment) depending on how and where the music was listened to. Digital music stores receive music from a digital distributor just like traditional record stores receive their merchandise from physical distribution outlets.
Because of being digital, however, the distribution time has decreased dramatically. What used to take weeks can be taken care of within hours.
Who Are The Best Music Distributors?
Many online music distributors will allow you to place your music on the largest online stores. Ensuring you keep 100% of your royalties is an option you want to make sure you have. You are paid from your royalties, so keeping 100% will ensure you earn as much as possible from your craft.
Here are some of the best music distribution services you can start using today:
Registering for one of these services is simple. Personally, I use Distrokid as it was recommended to me by many of my peers. There are multiple affordable plans to choose from, starting at $19.99 a year.
Once you create an account and include all the appropriate metadata, you can upload your artwork, song title, and even schedule pre-saves and choose your release date.
These distribution services provide analytics that will help you decide which markets are strongest and where to spend on advertising. Online music distributors will also handle your royalty splits if you have multiple writers and producers on a song. This will make sure everyone is paid for their work.
Along with this, they will also help with cover song clearances, playlist submissions, synchronized lyrics for social media. For example, Twitch and TikTok support instant music video generators and so much more.
Digital music sells the best, and this way of consumption will continue to rise. The revenue reports within the music industry show digital distribution of your music is the way to go. You need to make your music available where your fans spend their time, and this is online.
Focus on releasing digitally, especially regarding your first project. Learning your market and fan base will give you better insights into potentially sending physical copies for a later release. Without this information, you may find yourself losing thousands of dollars on physical product that never sells, simply because it’s in the wrong location.
Let’s Get Started:
First, you are going to want to choose the right distributor for you. Do your research and find the online distributor that looks to fit your lifestyle the best. Make sure to look at cost, payment time, and any extra features with the provider.
Second, you are going to want to make your music is searchable. Make sure you have all the correct metadata inserted correctly in your distribution portal for the release. This includes information like artist name, album title, release date, label, track titles and genre.
Your distribution service will walk you through this part but it’s important to make sure this information is correct. Write an artist bio. This will be featured on online platforms such as Apple Music and Spotify.
Thirdly, promote your music! Once your release is scheduled and approved by the distributor, their job is done and the weight is on your shoulder.
A distributor is only as good as your marketing plan. They will not do the promotional work for you. Make sure you have a realistic budget for what you are willing to put behind your release.
Reach out to blogs, run social media ads, reach out to influencers. The more avenues, the better your chances are for the song becoming a hit. Your main goal should be to get your track into as many ears as possible. Any way you can think to get your name out there is probably worth doing.
Marketing tactics are constantly changing and it’s essential to be adaptable in an ever-changing industry!
Tie It All Together
If you are interested in learning more about the music business and how to become a successful songwriter, Dark Horse Institute’s Music Business Progam is a great way to take things to the next level when you are ready.