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A Comprehensive Guide to Music Distribution


A Comprehensive Guide to Music Distribution

Do you want to release your own music but don’t know how to do it? Don’t worry. It is easier than personally uploading it to every platform or getting signed to a label! In fact, it is much easier.

Read on to learn about music distribution companies and what they can do for you.

Music Distribution: What Is It?

Unless you have been in the music industry for a couple of years, you may have never thought about music distribution before. It is the boring business and logistics stuff that no one sees. And there is no doubt that no musician wants to think about it. They just want their music to be published and to go viral. However, without music distribution, this would be impossible.

Simply put, music distribution is the middleman that takes the music from artists or bands and distributes it to stores and digital platforms in many different formats.

The Good Ole Days

Before our current world of online streaming platforms, music could only be found on the radio or in physical copies in stores. While vinyl record collecting and listening may be a hobby to some today, it was just how people listened to music before iPods entered the scene.

During this time, people could not distribute and release music on a large scale by themselves. You essentially needed a label or a lot of funds to do it. The distribution included vinyl pressing and the distribution to stores across the country. This was not cheap.

The Modern Digital Era

Luckily for artists everywhere, a new day has dawned in the music industry. And while streaming platforms are controversial, they have made it much easier for independent artists to get their music out into the world.

With the digital scene taking over, distribution companies adapted and were created to tend toward this new way of releasing music. Even though the way in which these companies operate has completely changed, their job is still the same. They take songs from artists or bands and put them on the market to be listened to.

How Does it Work?

Having your music distributed properly across all streaming platforms is now easier than ever. But at the same time, it is now more complicated than ever. There are many moving parts behind the scenes that make up, what we can call, an involved digital pipeline of revenue and royalties. Here is a little bit more about how it works.

Direct Distribution

First off, independent artists can release music directly to certain streaming platforms. While not every streaming platform does this, there are a few that act essentially like musical social media. This makes it easy for an artist to get their music out in front of an intimate group of music lovers. 

Digital Distribution Platforms

Direct distribution is a good thing. However, you will need to bring a digital distribution platform on board if you want your music to have the potential for a large audience. Distribution companies like these deal with hard copies in addition to the bulk of the digital world. This means that in one smooth brush stroke for you, your music can be uploaded to streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Pandora, and Prime Music. Not to mention social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

The Allocation of Royalties

Now to the most important part. In addition to distributing your music across all of these critical platforms, distribution companies keep track of your royalties and ensure you get paid for your hard work.

How Independent Bands Can Get Started

Now that you have an understanding of how this side of the music industry works, it is time to learn how you can get started. Luckily, getting started is easy. Here is what you need to do.

Choose Your Distributor

First, select your distributor. As you can imagine, just like any other industry, there are many distributing companies that have pros and cons to working with them. Some do not offer as many platforms as others, some will handle playlist pitching, and so on. When in doubt, go with one of the industry leaders like Distrokid. You can’t go wrong with them.

Pay a Monthly Fee

Once you have decided on your music distributing company, you will need to start paying a small monthly fee. A small price to pay to have your music placed on all platforms.

Release Strategically

Lastly, do not just start posting music left and right. Just because you can do that, it doesn’t mean you should. Since streaming platforms now dominate the music listening industry, this form of DIY music distribution has become quite competitive.

Spotify has multiple algorithmic playlists and other algorithm-based stats that you must research and learn how to use to your advantage. This can inform what days of the week you should release on, what playlists to submit your song to, and how long to wait before releasing your next song.

This part of the process requires the most work from you, but at least you do not have to worry about how it gets there. You just need to upload your song about a month before its release date to give playlist curators time to see it, and you are good to go.

The Bottom Line 

Major music distribution is now easier than ever and at little to no cost. Distribution companies have changed with the times and are available to anyone who knows about them. So, now that you know how to get your music out there, do some Spotify algorithm research and start releasing your music!


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