You’ve invested months or maybe even years into writing your songs, perfecting the composition and arrangement, getting the track produced and carving out the sounds. You’ve finally got the final master(s), no pun intended, and at long last you have a song or collection of songs that are ready to share with the world. Great!
The problem is, not all of your audience likes to listen to music in the same place, and if you want to grow your audience, you want to make sure your music is available on the platform they would normally use to listen to music.
Even if all platforms did accept uploads directly from artists (which most do not), there are so many that it would be incredibly time consuming to have to send all your music to each one individually. This presents a frustrating obstacle for artists, but their reasoning is fair and there is a range of companies that provide a solution to artists and labels.
Operating services like Spotify or iTunes and making sure the money goes to the right places heavily relies on metadata. They also want to present a professional and uniform visual for their users – that generally means no strange formatting in song titles, good resolution artwork, all contributors credited appropriately and all the data they need in the right place.
Stores may achieve this by screening who is able to directly submit works for sale/streaming in their stores through an application process, which means it is possible to submit directly to some outlets, however it is suggested that you start out by using a distribution partner.
Some great reasons to go down the distribution partner route include:
- They have already jumped through all of the hoops required to distribute music directly to outlets.
- They will be able to advise you on anything you are uncertain on relating to the distribution of your music and how to correct any issues with the release of your music.
- They have already invested in the infrastructure required to effectively do this activity at scale and distribute to many stores.
There are a fair amount of companies that offer music distribution services but the top three that come to mind for me are Distrokid, CD Baby and Amuse.
For an annual fee, Distrokid allows completely unlimited digital distribution with a quick delivery to stores. You can choose to set a release date further in the future (this is generally advisable to allow for playlist consideration and pre-release promotion opportunities), but if you want it to go live as soon as stores process it, then you can release to stores “immediately”.
There are lots of optional add-on services priced on a per-release basis which can increase the renewal cost of the subscription.
I’ve had no issues, everything works as intended and although support through their ticketing system can be a little slow at times depending on their volume of queries, they can be reached for general advice queries on social media channels. If they can’t fix it there for you, chances are you’ll need to still raise a support ticket but they will tell you which one to raise, so it’s going to the right place.
If you want to sign up with Distrokid, my referral link will get you 7% off your chosen plan and get me $5.
2) CD Baby
CD Baby offer a pretty comprehensive range of services allowing artists to distribute both physical copies of their albums as well as digital distribution. They know their way around the publishing world and are happy to get involved on behalf of their artists.
Operating a pay-per-release pricing model along with taking 9% of all revenue collected, they also succeed when their artists do. This means it directly benefits CD Baby to promote the artists using their service, which may be an influencing factor when deciding which company to work with.
Amuse is a great development in the music industry over recent years. They offer completely free music distribution to major outlets because they get to use the insight from the sales data delivered to them as the artists distributor to cherry-pick and invest in artists they see potential in, which puts them in a uniquely powerful position as a record label.
You should now know how to get your music on Spotify, iTunes/Apple Music, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Facebook and Instagram, TikTok and potentially hundreds of other outlets – pick a distribution partner, upload your tracks and artwork, make sure your data is correct, pick a release date and you’re done.
If you already released a song to stores, don’t then try and get another distributor to re-release the same version. This can and will cause you frustration that is easily avoidable.
When your music is available everywhere, you should probably start keeping track of all of these links somehow… That’s a problem for another post, but spreadsheets and databases are your friend here.