For musicians wanting to put their music out independently, it’s never been an easier time to do so. There are a handful of music distribution providers that are affordable and deliver artists’ music to exclusive streaming platforms. This is the only way to publish music to public marketplaces for users to stream, save, download and follow your music and artist page. Music distribution and streaming have created a version of the music industry that allows more independent artists to release their music and engage with fans. The problem is knowing which music distribution service to use! There are numerous options, some of which have been around since the early 90’s and others that are relatively new to the industry. It ultimately comes down to an artist’s preferences, but check out some of the major variables to consider when making the final decision on a distributor.
The first thing to consider about a distribution service is its pricing. Most operate on a subscription basis that allows a certain amount of annual uploads. In the best-case scenario, a distribution service will have a one-year subscription fee that allows unlimited track and album uploads. This is the best-case scenario for pricing if your project actively releases music. If you find yourself only releasing one or two songs or collections a year, then it might be smarter to go with a service that allows a one-time payment per upload. However, you’ll still have more access to customer service representatives with a yearly subscription. Check out the options and remember to look out for hidden fees and suspicious price structures.
Another thing to consider when selecting a music distribution service is its platform relationships. Most distributors can deliver to major platforms exclusively for music, such as Spotify or Apple Music. However, not all have access to Tidal, a newer and slightly pricier streaming service, or social media platforms that host libraries of songs for people to use in their stories or posts. Artists should be looking for a distribution service with preferred relationships with all the major music streaming platforms and social media apps, such as Instagram and TikTok, where many new artists are finding success.
Detailed and specific engagement statistics are another critical factor in choosing a distribution service. Newer services have responded in their business models to flaws in the older distribution services and provide more access to information like age, demographic, location, and whether or not they started following your page after streaming a track. These are beneficial numbers for artists to see to market themselves and target their desired demographic of listeners effectively. How can you grow your fanbase if you don’t know who’s listening?
Opportunities For Growth
Depending on where your music can get delivered with a distributor, you may be able to take advantage of unique growth opportunities. This could be exclusive playlist placements, artist interviews or write-ups, and potentially live sessions hosted by different streaming platforms. Of course, this also depends on how much you push your music to get it noticed by the people who organize these events. But if you choose a distributor that doesn’t get your music to the right places, you won’t have the opportunity to take advantage of these things. Go with a distributor that delivers to all the major platforms and explore some unique promotional opportunities associated with each.
Just as important as pricing and the level of services provided is how other users feel about a particular service. A select few are known for being affordable, easy to use, and have excellent customer service when you need to troubleshoot an issue. The best opinion you can trust in these situations are other artists so take a few moments to look up all the major music distributors and see which one artists seem to prefer the most. The chances are if other indie artists like using a service it’s probably a good one to get at least started with.
It comes down to your particular needs as a musician and artist and what each service can offer you. Depending on how often you release music, the pricing structure of some may or may not be the best thing to invest in. For artists trying to make a living on their music and intend on releasing a lot of music, it’s best to go with a service that allows the most submissions in a year for the price of the subscription. Research and find out which is the best for you and your band!