If you’re an independent music act – rapper, singer, band – there’s one thing you can bet on: your music has to be everywhere. It has to be accessible to potential new fans and in 2017 that means being on all the major streaming platforms.
(Not Quite) Old Music Distribution Priorities
In previous years, proper music distribution meant getting your music on iTunes and Amazon music, while praying someone actually PURCHASED your digital downloads.
We all know how that’s turning out…
Recorded music sales have been dying a slow death for almost a decade. No one wants to buy music anymore. Maybe the die-hard fans who will buy everything you put out, but how many of those you got?
And just today on Deviant Noise News we reported that sales are still dropping and even the Vinyl album resurgence might have peaked as well.
So like wine and marketing entrepreneur Gary Vee says, focus on where the attention is at.
And that’s streaming platforms. (But don’t worry, follow this guide and your music will be everywhere, including iTunes and Amazon Music – so you can continue to hope and pray away).
Getting Your Music on Spotify (and Everywhere Else)
Unless you’re with a label, you have to work with an Artist Aggregator to get your music placed on these various services. You’ve got a few options, but they all charge a basic fee.
Both sites work the same way and distribute to the same platforms CDBaby also sells your music in their online store and will make your physical CDs (…you’re still pressing up CDs?) available to all the major records stores (…those still exist?).
TuneCore doesn’t have a store and doesn’t handle physical distribution.
How to Do It
It’s pretty straight forward – all you have to do is visit the site of your choice, click “sign-up” and create an account, and then upload your music, artwork and song information.
You’ll also have to enter in payment information for how you want to be paid out.
It’s important to make sure your MP3 files are properly tagged or you may end up with some weird looking artist/song information when you try searching for your music on Spotify, Apple Music or Tidal.
And triple check the information you enter into TuneCore or CD Baby too.
Don’t Have Any Music to Distribute Yet? Stop Slacking and Make Some!
For TuneCore, you simply create your account and from the dashboard (main page) go to the Music menu and choose what you want to distribute – either a Single (1 song) or an Album (multiple songs).
Next, you just enter the details of your music – song title, artists, genre, language, release date, label name, recording location (and catalog numbers if you have them).
You can also choose to release your single/album in the future if you want time to promote it before the release. But unless you’ve got an existing fan base or plan on doing a LOT of promotion, you might as well just release it immediately and then hustle hard.
After you enter the info and upload the file, you’ll have to make payment
If you plan on using CD Baby then it’s a similar process. You just sign up for an account and once you’re in the dashboard you click “Add a Title”
Next, just choose whether you’re distributing a single or an album/mixtape/ep.
After this CD Baby will ask you if you want to do a free distribution (on the CDBaby store only), a regular distribution (all music platforms) or a pro distribution (regular distribution + royalty collection).
If you want to make things easy on yourself, I’d say go with the Pro option. In our Artist Series blog post next week we’ll talk a little more about making sure your royalties are being paid to you properly.
Either way once you make your choice you’ll be asked to enter in all the same info Tune Core asks.
If you don’t already have a bar code (and you probably won’t) CD Baby gives you the option to buy one. You’ll need one so get it.
How Much it Costs
Distributing an Album on TuneCore will run you $29.99 for the first year and $49.99 for each year after that. A single is $9.99 per year, flat.
CD Baby’s pricing is a bit different. They have both “Standard” and “Pro” distribution options. Standard means you get your music everywhere. With Pro they’ll also collect and pay royalties for you (make sure you’re also a member of a Performance Rights Organization like ASCAP, BMI or SOCAN).
A Standard single will cost $9.99 per song and a Pro single costs $34.95 per song (one time fees). A Standard Album costs $49 and a Pro album is $89 (introductory price only).
How Long it Takes
Once you finish filling in all the information you’ll be asked to upload audio/image files and make payment. It usually takes some time (a day or so) for the Aggregator staff to review your submission.
After that there are different wait times before you’ll actually appear on all the different platforms.
- iTunes: Though the time it takes for music to go live on iTunes can vary, releases typically go live within 24-48 hours
- Amazon Music, Deezer, iHeartRadio: 3-7 business days
- Amazon On Demand: 6-8 weeks
- Google Play: 1-2 weeks
- Spotify: 5 business days
- All other stores take 1-3 weeks
Where Will Your Music Be?
Both companies will distribute your music to all the major platforms. The only edge CD Baby has over Tune Core is the physical copy distribution to music retailers and their own online music store.
But both should get your music on:
- iTunes and Apple Music
- Amazon Music
- Google Play
- YouTube Music
- many other platforms
This way your music is available for potential new fans almost anywhere they decide to discover new music.
IMPORTANT: Don’t Forget This
You ain’t done yet. You may have your music on all those different pro platforms, but just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come (fuck that’s an old reference…)
You still need to actively promote your music to new fans and get new listeners from other online platforms.
We’ll talk more about effective ways to promote your music in upcoming Tuesday Artist Series blog posts.
But for our purposes here (getting on all the major music discovery/streaming platforms) I want to mention one thing.
Don’t neglect putting your music up MANUALLY everywhere you can think of.
Get Your Music Everywhere Else + Find New Fans
Upload music videos (or picture videos) of your songs to YouTube manually. Upload MP3s to places like SoundCloud, BandCamp, SoundClick and anywhere else you can think of where people find new music.
Then you need to start interacting with different communities online. There are tons of forums, Facebook groups and other online spots where people talk about and share new music.
BUT DON’T FUCKIN SPAM YOUR SHIT!
Interact with the community. Engage with the people. Be helpful. And then share your stuff.
Here’s another quick tip – download the smartphone app Musical.ly (it’s mostly younger people making lip-sync videos and sharing online). It’s a pretty popular app and you can make your own videos with your songs in the background to try and get some new listeners.
The point is, just because you have your music on streaming platforms, doesn’t mean anyone will listen. You still gotta grind it out and build up a fanbase.
But at least now, when a fan you gain manually starts telling their friends about you, your music will be easily findable everywhere online.
Got any tips, comments, suggestions or questions about music distribution? Leave em in the comments. If you liked this post, please share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or anywhere else. It’s much appreciated!