Sharing Your Music & Finding The Right Digital Distributor
Tunecore, Distrokid, Ditto Music & More
The Idea: Get Your Music Out There
We've said from day one - you can be the greatest musician on the planet but if no one knows how to find your music how do you expect to advance in your career? That might be a harsh way to start an article designed to help you but that's the hard reality of it.
We meet plenty of really talented musicians, but if you're an artist expecting to make a career from your music something doesn't quite add up when you've got buckets of talent but not the audience.
Creating music Is often a really tricky process. Some of the best songs go through all sorts of challenges and refinement and this can be even harder when you're just starting out.
Putting the song together, finding a space to record - finding the budget to record, working with the right team of producers and musicians. The list can go on - believe me.
The Basics: Ways To Make Money & Get Your Music Shared
However, you're resilient and we both know you can get over the various complexities. But then, once you have your product what's next? Maybe you’ve hit up some of the following websites and placed your music on their platform - they’re perfect for aspiring musicians.
YouTube - Often the first port of call for sharing your music and connecting with fans.
Soundcloud - .A great platform to upload your music to share easily with people you want to work with in the future or fans.
Sentric Music - Collect royalties from live gigs and radio play. They also arrange tv placements for your music
PRS For Music - A great way to collect royalties from performing your music live or from tv/radio play. Sign up with PRS to get the most from your relationship with Sentric Music.
Bandcamp - Share/sell music and connect with fans across the world.
The Goal: How To Get Your Music On Spotify & Itunes
But what’s next? Sorting out the above is a really strong start for your career but let’s now deal with casual listeners over those who actively seek you out. How can you make your music accessible to everyone? Digital music distribution makes up 31% of the $16.6 billion global recorded-music market which is why you’ll need a distributor to connect your music with online platforms.
I'm sure you can name the biggest platforms - Spotify, Amazon. Apple Music, Google Play and so on. You could try to put your music on these platforms manually (which would be a lot of work) or you could get someone to handle it for you. This is where you can either spend a lot of time and money or if you get it right it can be a straightforward and simple process by working with a digital music distributor.
There are numerous distributors out there for music who didn't necessarily exist a few years ago- it's an amazing time to be making music because there are hundreds of ways to get your music heard, it’s easier than ever to share your songs from New Zealand to Luxembourg. This is done mostly through streaming online. Paid streams give fans on-demand streaming access to your songs through an application and fans can choose either a free, ad-funded version, or a subscription option for ad-free listening .
Your Options: The Best Digital Distribution Services
The distributors/aggregators usually push your music across most mainstream platforms but who do you pick? Let's look at the main contenders to find out who is right for your music and putting your content online on an easily accessed platforms - if all goes to plan this will make your music more available than it’s ever been.
All of the following services work with the top music streaming/selling sites: Apple Music, Itunes, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play plus many more - around 100 different online outlets. They also all offer trending reports featuring statistics of your streams/downloads and profits too.
Annual fee: $0
Price per album: $49.00
Price per single: $9.95
Pros: They’ll sell vinyl and CDs on your behalf. There’s plenty of advice for young artists on their website. CD Baby has been around for a long time.
Cons: They take 9% commission on digital sales.
Annual fee: $19.99
Price per album: $0
Price per single: $0
Pros: Easy to use interface. Artists keep 100% of royalties. Upload unlimited number of songs.
Cons: Their basic package might be a bit limiting.
Annual fee: $0
Price per album: $29.99
Price per single: $9.99
Pros: Artists keep 100% of profits. Tunecore has a robust system to manage your music distribution.
Cons: Their fee nearly doubles after the first year.
Annual fee: $0
Price per album: £24 / $30
Price per single: £8 (1-3 tracks) / $10
Pros: They have a UK office and a UK contact number They have a number of bolt-ons which allows flexibility. You keep 100% of profits.
Cons: They have a wide range of bolt-ons which changes the price, so hidden costs could drive up the fee.
Annual fee: $/€ 0
Price per album: €29 /$33
Price per single: €9 / $10
Pros: IMusician has a few packages for artists releasing different amounts of content.
Cons: They take a large amount of commission for their packages priced at lower rates.
Annual fee: $0
Price per album: $0
Pros: RouteNote offers a free package where they operate by taking 25% commission per sale.
Cons: Hefty commission fees unless you upgrade to their premium option.
Which Is The Best Online Distributor For Your Music?
It can be quite tricky figuring out which one is right for you and of course every one of the services above will offer something for artists, however we wanted to give our opinion on which online distribution service we think is best for independent, unsigned, newly emerging musicians.
Which Platform Should You Use To Share Your Music?
Price is usually the biggest factor when it comes to independent distribution. We’ve mentioned some great choices but in our opinion one of these really stands out. If you’re looking to put your music out there and not be penalised for the amount of music you make and create then we suggest Distrokid. While their branding might be a little undercooked we think they offer two great options for the singer/songwriter/musician-entrepreneur. The basic package at $19.99 which allows you to upload whatever/whenever and keep 100% of the profits - though this has limits to it, you can’t set up pre orders or set your ideal price. This naturally drives you to the premium option at $35.99. Yes it might be a classic up-sale but even then, at $35.99 per year you have the freedom to upload your entire catalogue if you wish - something which could potentially cost you x10 the amount if you were to go with another service. To make it easier you could use our Distrokid signup link. This means you'll get a 7% discount on your subscription, taking it from $35.99 to around $33 - every little helps right?
All in all, the numerous services listed on this page are pretty similar with the major difference being customer service and price. Distrokid has a clean interface which is super simple and lets you get straight on with uploading your music. For a while, I received Distrokid’s mailouts written by their founder Phil Kaplan - I hit reply to ask him a generic question about what they do and he replied pretty rapidly - impressive. Distrokid also gets the approval of Jeff Price (founder of Tunecore) & Derek Silvers (founder of CD Baby) who have since gone on to leave their respective companies - but their endorsement tells you Distrokid is a top contender.
Distrokid (as well as Tunecore) offers next day trending reports. Almost-real-time reports and statistics on how your music is being distributed, consumed and sold is pretty impressive considering that most other services offer this on a 6-8 week delay. This allows you to keep track of your success and make timely business decisions.
There are also a few reviews of Distrokid’s services where people report having their music online in just a couple of hours after uploading, whereas it usually takes 48-72 business hours (2-3 business days) for your songs to go live on Spotify and most other platforms.
Don’t think that this article has been sponsored by Distrokid or is a paid endorsement, it’s not. We want to find what’s best for young independent musicians, so naturally we will point out some of the flaws of Distrokid’s service.
Firstly their basic option at $19.99 a year is quite limiting, as you can’t arrange pre-orders or set up your own unique pricing per release. That said you’re still able to upload as many original songs as you want in that time compared with $6-10 for just one song on most other platforms. For covers there's an additional fee, you'll see there are additional bolt-on fees for quite a few services on Distrokid however the basic packages are very solid as they are and would suit the budget of someone just-starting out but still be just as well suited for a seasoned veteran.
Next is the fact that to keep your music online you need to subscribe to their service each year. There’s a bit of a trade-off here because while $19.99 is an amazing offer it does mean if you want the music to stay on Spotify or Itunes you’ll have to pay that fee each year. If you’re making lots of music that shouldn’t be a problem because you’ll be getting your money’s worth from the annual fee. While you may not want to pay $19.99 for the rest of your life to keep your music online you can opt to pay $29/$49 for a single or album to remain online in perpetuity.
Overall, Distrokid is great for uploading all your music, even your past archive. If you’re uploading original music and want to spread it throughout the major platforms then Distrokid is for you. To make it easier, we have a discount code which gets you 7% off your annual plan. Hopefully it’ll help.
Once you’ve signed up to a digital distributor, check out some of the links below to take your music even further.