A lot of the independent artists who perform at youbloomLA and youbloomDublin ask us what the best way to distribute their music is. Some don’t have the luxury of massive record labels like Sony and Universal to distribute their music for them. For other independent artists, signing to a record label is a possibility, however, they choose to take control of every aspect of their music career instead. This includes choosing how they distribute their own music. Let’s take a look at all of the distribution channels available to independent artists in youbloom’s Ultimate Independent Musician Guide to Distributing Music.
The Ultimate Independent Musician Guide to Distributing Music
Once musicians have their music recorded, it’s always hard to find a way to get music out to the public. There are ways to do it on your own and then there are ways to work with distributors. No matter which you choose, you will have to pay a fee. On your own isn’t as much as paying for a distributor, but a distributor makes it easier to get your music out there and already has the connections.
On Your Own:
You can always do things on your own when it comes to music, but it won’t always be easy. With distributing you can always go to the source and talk to the company yourself. You can post on iTunes and Spotify yourself, as well as other downloadable sites and streaming sites. They will take a percentage of your sales and you will get the rest, but you need to make sure you are getting what you’re owed. You can sign up on SongTrust or Tunecore Publishing to collect your composition royalties. Most of the companies I will be talking about will have you do this. There’s only one company out there that will actually do it for you.
If you want to sell hard copies of CDs, you can go to your local record store and see if they will put out some CDs. Amoeba Records will let you put a CD or two in their locals section and will leave them there for a month to see how they sell. If they sell out, they will email you and let you know what happened. If they don’t sell in a month, you pick them up and try again and let your fans know where they can pick them up.
This is one of the more popular sites and have been around the longest. The offer a wide range of deals and help. They will put your songs on all downloading and streaming sites and will also distribute to independent record stores and big named chains that sell music. They are connected with Alliance Entertainment who sells through Best Buy, Target, Barnes & Nobles, amongst may others.
CD Baby has many extras to help you out. They have a song licensing service that will license your music and a YouTube Monetization Program that is a free add-on for their standard and pro packaging. They also help with music placement for television, movies, and ads. They will even help with websites and band merchandise. You have a couple of options for CDs where they will create the CD jackets, jewels, and wallets. Those can get pretty pricey and you can make those on your own. CD Baby also creates music players for mobile friendly and desktop websites. Your fans can stream music and purchase them from the player.
Like everything, it isn’t free. It’s not too badly priced at $9.95 per single and $49 per album. There is an additional fee for the UPC at $5 per single and $20 per album. Nothing yearly or monthly. You can check your sales at any point and see how they are doing on all the sites CD Baby sends your music to. If a new store gets added to their site, they will send it there for free. They will also keep 9% of your sales, while you keep everything else. They do have a package called CD Baby Free where you can sell your music on their site, your site and FaceBook, but they will take 15% of sales. another good thing they do is collect your SoundExcahnge royalties for you instead of you having to go through another company. It’s the only company to do it for you.
DistroKid has been around since 2013 and was created and programed by a musician. One of the founders of CD Baby has actually recommended DistroKid as another good site to use. They do not keep any of the royalties and 100% of the money you make goes straight to you every month. If you are working with another composer, they will send them their percentage of what all parties agreed on and are the only site to do so. They are a digital download site and only distribute to every major downloadable and streaming site.
There is still a cost for working with them though. You get to keep your money, but it is a yearly fee of $19.99 but, you get to put as many songs up as you like. This site works better if you don’t really do albums and do things by song. There is a charge per song for Shazaam and extra features that you can purchase. They will also charge for any new store added to their list. You can get those for free as well, but you have to check the website constantly to make sure to click on the box. They do provide each song with its own ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) and UPC. DistroKid will also help with providing the proper mechanical license and anything with cover songs.
Reverbnation is another well known website, but not as popular anymore. They do have some free things were you don’t have to pay for some of the things, but it is very basic things. For free they have artist profile, unlimited song uploads, selling your music, finding gigs, email and social marketing, embedded players, and FaceBook app. The basic package for $9.95 a month will help with industry opportunities, and EPK, along with all the things you can get for free. They have a premium package for $19.95 that includes everything in the previous packages along with digital distribution, free website domain, and unbranded embeds. They are working on adding more things and have extra features for different prices.
The Ultimate Independent Musician Guide to Distributing Music Summary
There are many ways to distribute music, you just have to find the right ones that work for your music and for the personalities for yourself or group. You can always do it yourself, but everything comes at a price. What other distribution channels have you went through or thought about using that weren’t covered in our Ultimate Independent Musician Guide to Distributing Music? Comment below to share your knowledge and experience of music distribution.
The Ultimate Independent Musician Guide to Distributing Music was written by youbloom guest contributor, Michele Enoch.
Michele Enoch is a music business graduate from Musicians Institute who has managed and promoted bands for years. She is now working on her photography and helping performers advance in their career. Her passion has always been music and she is exploring all aspects of the industry. Michele appreciates all kinds of music and seeing music in all kinds of environments. She enjoys crocheting hats and toys, reading and writing mystery and horror stories, taking pictures of everything she can, food from around the world, and adorable animals. She is always on the look out for anything new and exciting.