Everything Musicians Need to Know About Music Distribution
Adam Butchart on September 11, 2017
With the decline in physical music distribution, digital services are taking over, offering musicians a more diverse place to distribute their content.
Being the link between your record and your fans, music distribution is a crucial part of your promotion process. Digital music distribution has blown all other methods and services out of the limelight, as digital sales have now outsold all physical mediums to date.
With the introduction of digital distribution services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Sound Cloud, music is becoming easier to find and easier to reach the audience musicians want. That being said, a lot of musicians struggle with their distribution due to the overwhelming options. Here is everything musicians need to know about music distribution and how to get the most out of it.
What is Music Distribution?
Music distribution is how music gets from the musician to their fans. This could be by physical CD copies or a digital download. However, distributors often come to agreements with record labels to sell stores, making a music distributor a viable option to reach the musicians target audience/fan base.
Using a Distributor
A common method of distributing music is by paying an agency to do it for you. It’s essentially a method of submitting your music to them, where they could then take a percentage of royalties from sales, or charging a flat fee. These price points can range from $15 – $25 for an EP of 6 songs, up to $50 for a full album depending on distributors. However, keep in mind that some distributors may ask for a ‘service fee’ where an annual cost is implemented into your payment to keep your content active in their distributional services. Once again, this cost will depend on the distributor.
What Works and What Doesn’t
Online services such as iTunes, Amazon MP3, Pandora, and Spotify contribute to the highest amount of music sales year to date. This makes digital distribution crucial to ensure your music reaches more people.
Furthermore, the integration of Shazam to iTunes and Apple Music to identify tracks is one of the biggest advantages of online distribution. This allows users to identify any track on their smartphone, where it can then be immediately downloaded onto their device.
While physical CD’s and Vinyl copies are still active, they are more of a novelty item rather than an on-demand service. People want their music now, not 3-5 business days later. Most big-ticket successors in the music industry will release their albums on Vinyl as a way to connect with certain demographics, which isn’t as necessary for start-ups.
How to See Benefits
A lot of the success of a record can be put down to their marketing scheme and how much time was put into it. These schemes can often be implemented into digital stores such as ITunes or Beatport, where you are greeted with large, vibrant banners that promote artists/albums.
If you’re just starting out, try uploading your music to free services such as YouTube or social medias and see what kind of response you get. Once your fan base has built up, then start working with the large distributors to make your music go viral.
Not all online services will accept the music submitted to them. It’s important for musicians to keep trying different services until their music is fully integrated into the market and is reaching as many people as it can.
To Sum Up:
Musicians can expect to see great benefits from progressing within the digital world. If the music industry could be described by its most complex and visible change in the last decade, it would be the decline of physical distributors. However, if you have a solid digital distribution track and marketing scheme, you can expect more views and purchases of your content when available on a digital distribution service.
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