The major players involved in getting your music online
In order to distribute your music online you must have an understanding of the key players who can help make that happen. There are many aspects to publishing your music and receiving royalties, regardless of the platform used. As well as this, there are also many rookie errors that can all too easily lead to you losing revenue, unless you make sure to conduct thorough research before making key decisions. Publishing your music is one of the most exciting moments of your career; so don’t let the details overwhelm you. The secret is to surround yourself with the right people and choose the right companies to represent your interests. We’ve taken a closer look at the key players in the music industry that can help you get your music online.
If you are signed to a label, they will often handle most of the process for you, but depending on your deal, you may need to work with distributors to reach certain areas of the globe. Most labels will be able to help you get your music online so that you can start earning, but some labels may not distribute your music to certain countries. If this is the case, you will need to work with a distributor to make sure that your music is available everywhere. As always, it is vital to be aware of the deal you have made with your label so that you can plan ahead for distribution in any locations that may not be covered.
Acting as the middleman between you and online stores/streaming services, distributors will arrange for your music to be available online for purchase or stream. Deals made with distributors vary from artist to artist, with some services preferring to charge a flat yearly fee regardless of the number of releases, while others prefer to take a percentage of your royalties and charge a smaller fee for each release. Distributors like Distrokid only charge $20 per year for an unlimited number of track and album releases, ideal for artists with a smaller budget. Companies like Tunecore charge per upload but do not take a percentage of royalties. There are a variety of distributors out there to suit a variety of budgets, but as you would expect, you get what you pay for. The more you pay, the more that distributor will do for you, and the larger more expensive options will normally be able to make your music available on more platforms.
A publisher’s job is to represent you as a songwriter and collect your royalties. Some publishers will represent you only for one song, while others will administer your whole catalogue. Your publisher takes care of paperwork and licenses, and deals with labels, collection agencies, and other artists on your behalf. With the slightest slip up on a contract having the potential to be hugely costly and time-consuming, it is vital to select a quality publisher to manage your interests and argue your case during negotiations. There are a wide variety of publishers on the market, from smaller niche publishers to larger ones like Downtown. Publishing and negotiation is a highly complex aspect of the industry, and many artists have become victims in the past, having been taken advantage of. Tread carefully; make sure to choose the right publisher, as an error in judgment may be costly.
Streaming platforms have seen a huge surge in popularity over the last few years. Spotify in particular has soared in popularity, towering over its competitors including Apple Music and Soundcloud. While each streaming platform has its positives and negatives, and some are certainly more popular than others, it is important to establish a presence on every single one. Although revenue is fairly low, unless you are receiving millions of streams on each track, streaming platforms offer a great opportunity for increased visibility, and aid in attracting new listeners. In particular, featuring on major playlists can be a huge benefit for your brand. Those running large playlists on Spotify are hugely influential, and contacting them is vitally important. However, make sure to only contact those who run playlists that your music is suitable for, otherwise you risk wasting your own time. As with bloggers, you should apply an individual approach to each playlist owner, and avoid sending an identical message to everybody. The personal approach will go a long way with securing you a spot on some of the bigger playlists.
Platforms that offer paid digital downloads like the iTunes Store and Beatport are great platforms for getting your music online. While you will still need to use a distributor, the exposure you will receive simply from being listed on the platform will go a long way in furthering your brand’s weight. Most sites offer you the opportunity to pay in order to advertise on the front page, a highly beneficial option for drawing more attention to your tracks. As with streaming platforms, you cannot rely on the income provided, but these sites are yet another opportunity for more exposure.
Always research your options when bringing on board a publisher or distributor, as mistakes can be costly. In order to really get your music out there, you must enlist each of the above to generate real revenue. While it may seem daunting choosing who to work with, making sure to thoroughly read and analyse any documentation or deals will ensure that you are making the right decision.