11 Jan INDEPENDENT ARTISTS VS. SIGNED ARTISTS
In the modern music industry, it’s getting easier to release your music and build a music career without the backing of a record label. There are more independent artists than ever before breaking into the mainstream without the support of a label.
Digital music distribution, streaming platforms, social media, online marketing tools, and technology advancements are changing the way artists release music and reach fans.
Chance the Rapper is an excellent example of an independent artist who seen major success without signing with a record label. His 2016 mixtape, Coloring Book earned him three Grammy Awards, including the award for Best Rap Album. It became the first streaming-only album to win a Grammy Award. It also peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200.
At some point in your music career, you may ask if you should release music as an independent artist or sign a deal with a record label. This guide lists the pros and cons of releasing music as an independent artist vs. signing with a record label.
RELEASING MUSIC AS AN INDEPENDENT ARTIST
Here are the pros and cons of releasing music as an independent artist:
THE PROS OF SELF-RELEASING MUSIC
1. 100% creative control: Independent artists have complete control over the direction of their music. They also have full control over distribution , marketing, artwork , messaging, deadlines, and more. Moreover, an independent artist has free will to make decisions about their creative vision. It’s the ideal scenario for many artists.
2. Keep 100% of the profits: Independent artists keep 100% of the profits generated from music sales, streams, licensing deals , merchandise, and other revenue sources.
3. 100% ownership of your music: Independent artists own the master rights to their music. They also have the freedom to negotiate music licensing and publishing deals. Moreover, they don’t have to worry about confusing contracts, expensive lawyers, and signing over their music rights.
4. Online music services offered to independent musicians: The digital era brings a variety of music services and tools for independent artists. Musicians have access to music distribution, marketing, streaming, merchandise creation, and other services. The internet also makes it easy for musicians to reach new audiences. They can now deliver their music to digital music stores, music platforms, and streaming services without a record deal.
THE CONS OF SELF-RELEASING MUSIC
1. Limited resources and budget: Funding mastering, distribution, marketing, merchandise, touring, and other expenses are expensive. Many independent artists don’t have the resources and money a record label can provide.
2. Limited network: Independent artists starting their music career have a limited network of fans and industry contacts. Whereas record labels will have a larger fanbase and connections with music industry professionals such as promoters, booking agents, media, etc.
3. Limited music business experience: Learning the ropes of the music business is challenging. It takes time and experience to learn all aspects of the music business. There are a lot of parts to manage, changing trends, music laws, and much more. It’s a complex world! It can also be an expensive lesson to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
4. Limited time: Pursuing the independent artist route is time-consuming. Self-releasing your music can seem like a full-time job. It requires a lot of time to set up distribution, create all the release assets, develop a marketing strategy, track sales, book shows, and everything else associated with releasing music. All this extra work also takes away valuable studio time.
RELEASING MUSIC WITH A RECORD LABEL
Here are the pros and cons of releasing your music with a record label:
THE PROS OF SIGNING WITH A RECORD LABEL
1. Available resources and budget: Established record labels have the resources and funding to provide support for mastering, distribution, album artwork creation, marketing, merchandise, touring, music videos, and other expenses. However, the budget and resources available depend on the label.
2. Existing network and connections: One significant benefit of signing with a label is their existing network. It can present major opportunities for you and your music. Without a label, your network and reach to larger audiences can be limited. Established labels will have a larger fanbase. They may also have relationships with booking agents, music venues, publishing companies, PR companies, and other music industry professionals.
3. Reputation and influence: Many record labels, especially major labels have well-established influence and connections in the music industry. They are better positioned to secure licensing and publishing deals, shows at larger venues and festivals, media coverage, radio plays, and other opportunities.
4. Implemented marketing strategy: Signing with a record label with a robust marketing strategy will increase your music sales, help you reach new fans, and boost your music career. Also, a label may have a large email list, regularly send newsletters, have a strong social media presence , music media support, and more. In addition, a label will have music industry experience.
Any small label will be established in some respect already, and this can be a handy advantage for you. It could mean that they have a team in place for various things, from preferred mastering engineers, distributors to licensing deals, designers and promotion and marketing people.
Being able to jump in and use these connections means that you can avoid having to build these connections yourself.
Labels also often have existing connections with journalists and tastemakers which will help when the time comes to promote your release.
One of the big things about working with another label, as opposed to going it alone is the money aspect. This is often the deal-breaker for artists (although to be honest, you should try not to let it influence you into working with a label you wouldn’t approach on a zero-budget).
Indie labels may not have the vast, endless funding of a major label, but they will most likely have at the very least a small amount of money allocated to your release, and it may mean money available for a few things:
- Not guaranteed, and often small amounts, but there’s a chance you might get an advance to finish the album or release.
- It’s commonplace and generally expected that the label covers the cost of mastering, and there’s every chance the label will have a preferred engineer or mastering house that they use. Just make sure to be kept in the loop before masters are signed off.
- Often paying a designer isn’t top of your list as a solo artist, but labels will have design contacts and may want to send the cover artwork task to a professional. This may also be someone in house, but the costs and task its self are still covered for you.
- It’s commonly expected that a label cover the costs of manufacturing any product that is going to be released. CDs, vinyl, cassettes, USB sticks – whatever the product, they will be expected to front the cash for that. Just be aware that the label will have a preference on what and where things get made, and quality control, scheduling etc will be down to them.
- Covering the cost of music videos can be expensive, especially if you need actors, makeup, equipment and crew. Some labels may offer to either help with these costs or cover them completely.
- Labels will often have their preferred methods of promotion, and as well as being able to cover promotion costs, they will likely have build up relationships with various places which will aid the promo when the time comes.
There are likely many other things a label may provide money for, but these are the most common.
It’s worth noting that there are no guarantees a label will cover these costs, but normally it’s expected that a label wanting to release your music will cover the costs of mastering, any manufacturing and promotion. Anything else would likely be a bonus.
In terms of getting any money from the label following the release, you should expect to see a cut of profits passed back to the label, but it’s likely this will only be after some of their outgoing costs have been recouped (usually mastering costs at the very least, but sometimes manufacturing costs too).
Reputation and Association
The reputation of a label and the expectation from their audience that they will curate and provide releases that will be of good quality, means that when you come onboard with a label that has some sort of established reputation, you’ll be associating yourself with their other artists and that brand.
It’s worth making sure that any label you approach is known for the right type of music and the sort of sound that you would feel comfortable with, otherwise it’s unlikely you’ll get your demo very far.
It’s also worth noting though, that many labels don’t want to stick so strictly to one particular genre, so don’t be afraid to push their boundaries a little if you think your sound might fit.
The association with the label may also mean connections with the other artists onboard. This can be great for things like remixes or collaboration, although you shouldn’t automatically expect to be sitting in the studio with the label’s biggest artist if you manage to get your music signed.
THE CONS OF SIGNING WITH A RECORD LABEL
1. Limited creative control: Signing with a record label gives them control over your music. The label can make deals and decisions with your music without your approval. They also have full control over distribution, marketing, artwork, messaging, and more. However, the control over your music and brand depends on the terms set in the contract.
2. Fewer profits: Records labels take a percentage of the profits generated from music sales, streams, licensing deals, and other revenue sources. Also, some labels use the royalties generated from music sales to pay for mastering, promotional mailers, and other expenses associated with the release.
3. Transfer of copyright ownership: The record label owns the master rights to your music when you sign a deal. They have the freedom to negotiate music licensing and publishing deals without your approval. As a result, they can keep more profits generated from these deals.
4. Bad contract deals: Many independent record labels have artist-friendly contracts. However, major record labels are known to have contract deals that give the artist a lesser percentage of royalties. Also, signing with a label means you have to deal with these complicated contracts and expensive layers if needed.
WHAT IS DIGITAL MUSIC DISTRIBUTION?
Digital music distribution services help independent artists and labels get their music on major online music stores and streaming sites worldwide. These digital aggregators distribute music on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Beatport, Amazon, Google Play, Pandora, and other leading music platforms. Many digital distributors also offer an extensive range of artist tools, services, and resources. They provide everything needed to sell your music online and grow your fan base.
DIGITAL MUSIC DISTRIBUTION SERVICES
Many leading digital music distributors offer a suite of services and tools for artists. They provide everything needed to prepare, sell, and market your music. Common services offered by industry-leading digital music distribution companies include:
- Delivering music to an extensive network of online music stores and streaming platforms
- Collecting and managing various music royalties
- Sales and analytics tools
- In-depth reporting and analysis
- Music licensing for placement on TV, film, video games, commercials, and more
- Music anti-piracy services
- Free ISRC and UPC barcodes
- Mixing and mastering services
- Video creation, promotion, distribution, and monetization
- Content ID protection for YouTube videos
- Album cover art , logo, EPK , and branding design services
- Merchandise and printing services
- Marketing promo mailer and other promotional services
- Public relations services, custom marketing plans, and release advice
- Music education, industry tips , and artist development information
HOW DIGITAL MUSIC DISTRIBUTION WORKS
Music distribution is now easier for unsigned artists. You no longer need a record label to share your music with the world.
Many of the major music platforms like iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, and Beatport do not deal with independent artists. They either require demanding submission requirements or will only work with approved digital distribution aggregators. So, the easiest and most hassle-free way to sell your music across the globe without a record deal is to use a digital music distribution service.
Additionally, digital music distributors partner with hundreds of online music stores and streaming services worldwide. They also provide everything needed to get your music to these music platforms. Moreover, you keep 100% of the rights to your music and 100% of the money you earn.
DIGITAL MUSIC DISTRIBUTION PRICING
Many digital aggregators allow you to keep 100% of sales, downloads, and streaming revenue. However, there are costs to using their services.
Digital music distribution pricing varies. Some digital distributors charge upfront fees for every album, EP, and single. Many also charge a percentage of revenue earned from sales and streaming. In other cases, aggregators will charge ongoing monthly or annual fees to keep your content online. New business models continue to appear as the music industry evolves, so do your homework before choosing one.
THE BEST MUSIC DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES
Each of the music distribution companies mentioned below has a solid reputation. It’s encouraged to check out what each service offers, how they manage your music, and what they charge to distribute your music. Choose one that best meets your needs and budget.
- No annual fee
- Distributes to 200+ outlets, including Beatport and other less-common outlets
- Automatically adds new outlets for free
- Preorders are available for multiple stores, including iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play
- Offer exclusive pre-releases
- YouTube & SoundCloud monetization available
- Able to distribute ringtones and STEMS
- Free ISRC & UPC codes
- Topple Track anti-piracy service
- $10 to release a compilation album
- Music video distribution available
- 15% Commission
- Not everyone can distribute with Symphonic as they are a submission based company
- Artist payouts are only once per month
- $50 payment threshold
- No payment splitting
TuneCore has been a significant player in the indie distribution arena for many years. They’ve recently made some significant changes to their pricing and offerings, making them more competitive with other distribution services. Their pricing ranges from $14.99 to $49.99 per year, with various plans tailored to artists at different stages in their careers.
The Good Stuff
- Simplicity at its Best: For budding artists, TuneCore’s user interface is a breeze. It’s straightforward, easy to navigate, and doesn’t bombard you with excessive information during the release process.
- Royalty King: With TuneCore, you get to keep 100% of your royalties from DSPs. Yes, you read that right. No commission on their paid plans. The free plan also offers unlimited uploads, with a 15% commission.
- Analytics and Reporting: TuneCore boasts one of the best analytical dashboards in the industry. Their sales reports are clear, intelligible, and offer insights that can help artists grow.
- Artist Development: From an exclusive graphic design app for album covers to playlisting opportunities, TuneCore is all about helping artists shine.
- Innovative Features: TuneCore’s revenue advances feature is a game-changer. If your past releases have shown consistent revenue, TuneCore will front you the money for future releases. This means more budget for production and marketing right from the get-go.
The Not-So-Good Stuff
- Oversimplified?: While many appreciate TuneCore’s straightforward approach, some established artists feel the system is too simplified, lacking detailed data input options.
- Commission on Social Platforms: TuneCore keeps a 20% commission on revenues from platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook.
- Marketing Support: While TuneCore offers a plethora of tools, some users feel it lacks in terms of strong marketing support, especially when it comes to playlist plugging.
- Pricing: ranges from $14.99 to $49.99 per year with multiple plans tailored to different artist needs. A free plan is also available.
- Royalties: 100% royalties from DSPs on paid plans. 15% commission on the free plan.
- Features: Advanced analytics, territory-specific distribution, and a renowned publishing arm backed by Sentric.
- User-friendly interface
- Comprehensive analytics and reporting
- Innovative artist development tools and features
- Revenue advances based on past performance
- Oversimplified system for some established artists
- 20% commission on social platforms
- Lacks strong marketing support in areas like playlist plugging
DistroKid was a pioneer in forging a partnership with the video-sharing giant, TikTok. With its inception, DistroKid introduced a pricing model that starts at $22.99 annually, offering various plans tailored to different needs: Musician, Musician Plus, and Ultimate. One of its standout features is the provision of mechanical licenses for artists wanting to release cover songs commercially. Moreover, DistroKid facilitates automatic revenue splitting among collaborators, ensuring everyone gets their fair share.
The Good Stuff
- Affordability: With plans starting at $19.99 per year for unlimited uploads, DistroKid offers a cost-effective solution for artists.
- TikTok Integration: Being one of the first to integrate with TikTok, DistroKid ensures artists get a piece of the viral pie.
- Revenue Splitting: The platform’s automatic revenue splitting feature is a boon for collaborations, ensuring seamless and fair distribution of earnings.
- No Commission: Artists get to keep 100% of their royalties, a feature that sets DistroKid apart from many competitors.
- Additional Tools: DistroKid offers SMS marketing tools, allowing artists to connect directly with their fans. Features like setting timestamps for TikTok and downloading songs from their cloud storage add to its appeal.
- Transparency: DistroKid is known for its straightforward approach, ensuring artists have a clear understanding of their earnings and distributions.
The Not-So-Good Stuff
- Customer Service: Some users have reported challenges with DistroKid’s customer service, particularly in terms of response time and resolution.
- Hidden Fees: While the platform offers a range of features, some come with additional costs that can add up quickly.
- Dashboard Limitations: The dashboard, though easy to navigate, lacks detailed revenue insights compared to some competitors.
- Pricing: Ranges from $22.99 to $1349.99 annually, with different plans catering to varied needs.
- Royalties: Artists retain 100% of their royalties.
- Features: Unlimited uploads, mechanical licenses for cover songs, automatic revenue splitting, and more.
- No commission on earnings.
- Seamless integration with platforms like TikTok.
- Automatic revenue splitting.
- SMS marketing tools.
- Mechanical licenses for cover songs.
- Some hidden fees.
- Potential challenges with customer service.
- Limited revenue insights on the dashboard.
LANDR Distribution, a multifaceted platform in the music distribution sector, offers a range of services beyond just distribution. With its roots in automated mastering, LANDR has expanded its offerings to cater to a broader spectrum of artists’ needs. Let’s dive deep into LANDR’s offerings and its position in the industry.
LANDR initially made its mark as an automated mastering service. Over the years, it has expanded its services to include a sample library, a marketplace for recording professionals named Network, and music distribution. Their distribution service was launched in 2017, marking their entry into the competitive music distribution landscape.
The Good Stuff
- Mastering and More: LANDR’s automated mastering service is its flagship offering, ensuring tracks are optimized for various streaming platforms.
- Collaboration: The platform offers shared workspaces, facilitating collaboration among artists and teams.
- Distribution: LANDR ensures artists’ music reaches over 250 music stores and platforms, including major players like Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play.
- Monetization: With YouTube Content ID, artists can monetize their content, ensuring they earn from their music’s usage on the platform.
- Reporting: LANDR provides an easy-to-follow dashboard, allowing artists to track their success and make informed decisions.
The Not-So-Good Stuff
- Pricing Confusion: Some users have found LANDR’s pricing structure to be confusing, with various plans and features.
- Commission: They do take a commission on one-time fees.
- Selective Approach: LANDR is known to be selective, working with specific clients, which might not cater to everyone.
- Pricing: When it comes to one-time payment ($9 for a single and $19 for an album or EP), LANDR operates on a commission-based model, taking 15% of sales revenue, leaving artists with 85%. Annual plans cost between $23.99 and 143.88, offering 100% revenue from digital stores. They also offer subscription-based services for automated mastering.
- Royalties: Artists retain a significant portion of their royalties, with LANDR taking a commission on some plans.
- Mastering: Automated mastering service to optimize tracks for streaming platforms.
- Distribution: Wide reach of over 250 music stores and platforms.
- Collaboration: Shared workspaces for team projects.
- Monetization: YouTube Content ID for content monetization.
- Reporting: Comprehensive dashboard for tracking success and fan base.
- Samples Library: Access to a vast collection of samples.
- Network: A marketplace to hire recording professionals.
- Access to a wide range of digital channels.
- Offers mastering, samples, plugins, and courses.
- Collaboration features and shared workspaces.
- >Playlist plugging opportunities.
- Takes commission on some plans.
- Platform might have a learning curve for some.
Founded by the brilliant Derek Sivers, CD Baby has been a trailblazer in the music distribution scene. They were the first non-label company to offer ‘open to all’ distribution to iTunes. Over the years, CD Baby has evolved, adapting to the changing landscape of the music industry. Today, it stands as one of the few platforms that offer both digital and physical distribution for artists.
The Good Stuff
- Holistic Approach: CD Baby is unique in its offering of both digital and physical distribution, ensuring artists have a comprehensive platform for their music.
- Rights and Royalties: Artists retain all legal rights to their music and receive payouts from multiple avenues. They get to keep a whopping 91% of their earnings from sales on CD Baby’s music store.
- Rich History: Being one of the first in the game, CD Baby has a legacy that speaks volumes. Their long track record is a testament to their commitment to artists.
- Additional Tools: CD Baby offers tools like show.co and HearNow, which are instrumental in music marketing and promotion. They also provide discounts on other music marketing tools beneficial for indie artists.
- Transparent Reporting: Despite some hiccups in the past, CD Baby has worked towards providing clear and intelligible reports for artists.
The Not-So-Good Stuff
- Commission Concerns: CD Baby takes a 15% commission on streaming royalties, which might not sit well with all artists.
- Pricing Model: While some artists appreciate the pay-per-release model, others might find it more expensive than subscription-based models.
- Customer Support: There have been concerns about CD Baby’s customer support, especially in recent times. However, the company assures that they are working on improving this aspect.
- Pricing: Ranges from $9.99 for a single or an album, with additional costs for upgrades up to $49.99.
- Royalties: Artists keep 91% of their earnings from CD Baby’s music store but pay a 15% commission on streaming royalties.
- Features: Offers tools like show.co and HearNow for music promotion.
- Both physical and digital distribution.
- Comprehensive publishing admin services.
- Rich history and legacy in the industry.
- Additional music marketing tools and resources.
- Expensive submission fees.
- No all-in subscription model.
- Concerns about customer support and past reporting discrepancies.
Ditto Music, a prominent player in the music distribution landscape, has been the subject of both praise and criticism. Let’s delve into this music distribution company to get a holistic understanding of what Ditto Music offers to artists and labels.
Ditto Music is known for its digital distribution services, allowing artists to retain 100% of their streaming royalties without commission. They also provide a unique “Record Label In A Box” (RLIAB) service, catering to those looking to establish their own record label.
The Good Stuff
- Affordability: Ditto offers plans starting at $19 per year, with unlimited uploads. This is complemented by a free trial, making it accessible for budding artists.
- Fast Payments: Ditto stands out for its immediate payments, with a threshold set at $25.
- Analytics & Marketing Tools: Artists gain access to advanced analytics systems, helping them understand their fan base better. Ditto also provides shareable pre-save links and video distribution.
- User Interface: Many users have praised Ditto’s user interface, finding it more intuitive than some competitors.
- Record Label In A Box (RLIAB): This unique offering streamlines the process of setting up a record label, handling tasks like official business registration.
- Royalty Collection: Ditto’s publishing arm ensures artists collect royalties from various sources, including radio and TV.
The Not-So-Good Stuff
- Reputation: Ditto has faced criticism and negative reviews, impacting its online reputation.
- Customer Service: Some users have reported slow email support and challenges post-payment.
- Lack of Detailed Payout Data: Artists have noted the absence of data on payout per stream, making it challenging to compare earnings with other platforms.
- Distribution Time: While Ditto boasts fast distribution, it’s not the fastest in the industry.
- Cover Music Videos: Ditto supports audio covers but not cover music videos.
- Pricing: Ranges from $19 to $29 annually, with various plans tailored to individual artists and labels.
- Royalties: Artists retain 100% of their royalties.
- Features: Unlimited uploads, music video distribution, pre-save links, analytics, and the unique RLIAB service.
- No commission on earnings.
- Advanced analytics and marketing tools.
- RLIAB service for aspiring label owners.
- Clear and intelligible revenue reports.
- Slow customer service.
- Lack of detailed payout data.
- Some hidden fees.
Here is a summation of the main advantages of using Spinnup.
To start with, Spinnup provides its customers 100% of the royalties they make from their songs. In contrast, musicians who deal with record labels only make approximately 10-15% of their total incomes. This makes Spinnup an exceptional choice for musicians that want to earn every cent that their music makes.
While TuneCore is one of the most used songs distribution site offered today, Spinnup’s payment choices are much more functional. TuneCore users are not supplied with the cheaper alternative of posting an EP; instead, they must pay the entire album’s rate.
Spinnup customers can pay $20 much less annually to publish their EP. This is perfect for artists who want to release just a few songs, but do not want to pay an absurdly high amount.
Spinnup also supplies relatively easy access to data so users can track their songs sales. This data facilitates musicians to find out exactly how to promote themselves far better to make the most sales.
Disadvantages of Spinnup
Spinnup presents lots of terrific functions, yet like any service, it does have some downsides.
Maybe one of the most glaring of these disadvantages is the handful of songs stores that Spinnup has accessibility to. Spinnup’s customers can only distribute to around 40 different songs stores. This is a small number in contrast with the 150 various other stores available with TuneCore. Still, it deserves noting that Spinnup does give its customers access to all the significant songs’ stores.
Secondly, Spinnup’s customer service is not very responsive, which can be disappointing for an upcoming artist who has queries about getting started.
Several more significant music distribution sites provide unique features such as publishing administrations and promotions from social networks influencers. Spinnup, however, does not provide its users access to these same functions.
While Spinnup might not be the exemplary model for musicians seeking a promotional site, it is a fantastic platform for new artists.
It is also brilliant for beginning artists who are looking for an inexpensive website. Ease of use and user-friendly functionality make it the perfect choice for musicians to publicise their work. Spinnup is a brilliant platform to get your music recognised.
Provide music mastering services – Octiive’s world-class mastering engineers clean and prepare your audio. This increases the likelihood of your song being heard by a global audience.
Serves a larger market – This platform distinguishes itself out because of the large audience through streaming partners such as Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, Tidal, and others. Furthermore, it makes it very easy for you to get your music accessible to your fans worldwide as an artist.
There is no predetermined limit – Once you have been able to sell your music online through Octiive, you will be able to request payment whenever you want.
Promotion – With the marketing and promotional options available, you may grow your fan following and gain global notoriety.
No hidden costs – Unlike many other distribution platforms, Octiive does not have any hidden costs, and it also does not charge a fee for each retailer.
Reasonable prices – Even though you have access to more retailers and locations worldwide, you pay a fraction of the cost, making it budget-friendly.
Sophisticated video distribution service – Your video gets distributed on YouTube and VEVO, which features your video for streaming reasons, thanks to Octiive’s established collaboration with Interscope Records/UMG.
A collaboration platform is in the works – This aims to bring together musicians of various races and backgrounds worldwide to collaborate on new music fans. This is a unifying feature in and of itself, and it can help people embrace diversity.
Registration of a record label – If you own a record label and join Octiive, they go above and above by registering your label name with all of their partners across the world. Your subsequent releases will then be sold via online music retailers.
The absence of a well-established reputation. The majority of material about Octiive you will discover online is generated by the company itself, which is likely related to its recent rebranding efforts. There are not a lot of Octiive reviews, guidance, or troubleshooting suggestions available online.
Possibly untrustworthy. Some users have reported that their planned releases did not go up on time. Others have stated that Octiive’s claims of 600+ online retailers in 140+ countries are not true, claiming that verifying the claim would be complicated and time-consuming.
There is no option for automated payment sharing. This puts the account owner in charge of ensuring that collaborators or bandmates are properly compensated, resulting in minor percentages of the total cash being lost due to transfer or payment processing expenses.
There is no live assistance available. Octiive provides excellent customer service, but exclusively via email. This can be aggravating if you have an urgent situation, such as a failed record release or royalties that have been mishandled.
Overall, Octiive is a promising tool with a goal statement that, if realized, could greatly simplify the lives of many musicians. Octiive’s CEO, Mershad Javan, is a musician who wants Octiive to help keep the DIY music culture alive by guaranteeing that low-budget artists are not pushed out of the industry. This sort of accessibility is desperately needed in the music scene right now. But, in terms of network stability and live customer service, Octiive still has some quirks to iron out before they can completely deliver on their claims.
Octiive’s features and pricing methods appear to be aimed more toward aspiring solo artists and managers than larger bands or seasoned professionals. Nevertheless, it is an excellent beginner platform for musicians who wish to focus more on the artistic and less on the financial side of their trade, as well as those who simply need a secure and shallow pool to get their feet wet, thanks to its various pricing options.
For those with considerable experience with competing distributors such as DistroKid or CD Baby, Octiive may fall short of expectations. It will also certainly disappoint the star-struck hopefuls who believe that a single $99 PR Blast will catapult them to superstardom.
Nonetheless, Octiive currently provides the most comprehensive distribution package for the lowest cost and lowest commitment, making it the greatest value on the market. Octiive may potentially become the music distributor to top if it can sort out its technological challenges, establish a reputation for dependability, and provide real-time customer service.
ReverbNation is one of the go-to platforms for indie musicians and bands. You can easily upload your music and share your ReverbNation account with fans, labels, the press, promoters, and anyone else who can listen to your music. ReverbNation has a free service where you can create a profile and upload your music. It also offers paid services, so you can access publicity tools, such as hosting your own website, for example.
All artists benefit from exposure. But ReverbNation can open you up to a wider fan base — and you may attract some label attention as well. This is why ReverbNation states that the platform’s services are responsible for 22 artists signed a month, approximately.
While ReverbNation is open to music artists of all genres, it attracts a niche audience. For example, if you’re a hip-hop artist, you’ll benefit from using a competing platform such as SoundCloud. However, more metal bands and even techno artists can benefit, because their audience gravitates toward ReverbNation’s unique characteristics and activity.
AWAL, an acronym for “Artists Without A Label,” is a digital music distribution service under the Kobalt umbrella. While it offers a unique proposition to artists, it has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
AWAL operates with a distinct philosophy: they don’t charge upfront fees but instead take a 15% commission on the artist’s earnings. This model is particularly attractive to artists who are confident in their music’s potential to generate revenue.
The Good Stuff
- No Upfront Fees: Artists can distribute their music without any initial costs.
- Analytics: AWAL’s app provides real-time statistics from platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube. This data can be invaluable for artists looking to understand their audience and performance.
- Label-Like Services: For high-performing artists, AWAL offers services akin to what a record label might provide, including marketing support and playlist pitching.
- Potential for Upstreaming: AWAL’s association with Kobalt means that standout artists might get the opportunity to be upstreamed to Kobalt’s services, including in-house sync services.
- High Payout Rates: AWAL boasts some of the industry’s highest payout rates for streams on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.
The Not-So-Good Stuff
- Commission-Based Model: While there are no upfront fees, AWAL takes a 15% commission on artists’ earnings.
- Exclusivity: AWAL is selective, operating on a submission-based model. Not every artist will be accepted, making it less accessible to newcomers.
- Customer Support: Some artists have reported slow response times from AWAL’s customer support, especially if they aren’t among the top-performing artists.
- Distribution Delay: AWAL reportedly has one of the industry’s longest distribution delays, at around four weeks.
- No Payment Splitting: AWAL doesn’t offer payment splitting among collaborators.
- Pricing: No upfront fees. Operates on a 15% commission model; artists retain 85% of their earnings.
- Royalties: Artists keep 85% of their earned streaming royalties. AWAL claims to have some of the highest payout per stream rates on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.
- Features: Strong analytics with a user-friendly app. Label-like services for high-performing artists. Potential for marketing support, playlist pitching, and advances for top-tier artists. Exclusive A&R team for monitoring and upstreaming promising artists.
- No upfront or annual fees.
- Comprehensive services beyond just distribution.
- Affiliation with Kobalt, a tech-first publishing company.
- Offers marketing, DSP playlist campaigns, and sync licensing.
- 15% commission on all sales.
- Selective and not open to all artists; more suited for those already gaining traction.
- Some artists reported slow customer support.
- One of the longer distribution delays in the industry.
Which Music Distribution Company Is Best for Spotify Distribution?
Ah, Spotify! The digital realm where music lovers and playlist enthusiasts unite. But if you’re an artist, the big question looms: Which music distributor rolls out the green carpet (get it, because Spotify’s theme is green?) for you on this platform? Let’s tune in!
1. The Big Players:
- DistroKid: Known for its speedy delivery to Spotify and its user-friendly interface. Plus, they’ve got a nifty “Spotify for Artists” feature that gets you verified on Spotify swiftly.
- TuneCore: A heavyweight in the distribution game. They boast a straightforward process to get your tracks on Spotify and even offer insights and analytics on your song’s performance.
- CD Baby: Not just a distributor but also a partner with Spotify, which can sometimes mean promotional opportunities. They also offer detailed streaming data for artists.
2. The Special Features:
- LANDR: Apart from distribution, they offer mastering services that ensure your track sounds top-notch on Spotify.
- AWAL: If you’re looking for a more selective distributor, AWAL might be your pick. They’re choosy about their artists, but if you’re in, they offer unique promotional opportunities on Spotify.
3. The Royalty Route:
- Remember, while getting on Spotify is one thing, how you earn from it is another. Different distributors have varied royalty structures for Spotify plays. Ensure you’re getting a fair deal.
4. The Feedback Loop:
- Artist Reviews: What are other musicians saying? Sometimes, the best insights come from those who’ve walked the path. Look for reviews or ask in artist communities about their preferred distributor for Spotify.
While many distributors can get your music on Spotify, the best one aligns with your goals, offers additional perks, and ensures you earn what you deserve. So, do your research, ask around, and soon, you might just find your track in someone’s “Favorite Hits” playlist on Spotify!
What to Consider When Changing Your Music Distributor?
So, you’re thinking of switching lanes in the music distribution highway. Maybe you’re seeking better views, smoother roads, or just a change of scenery. But before you rev up that engine, let’s make sure you’ve got your roadmap ready!
1. The Why Behind the Goodbye:
- Reasons for the Switch: Are you looking for better features, lower fees, or just had a bad experience? Knowing why you’re making the move can guide your next choice.
2. The Great Migration:
- Transferring Tracks: Some platforms allow you to transfer your music without losing streams or playlist placements. Check if your new distributor offers this.
- Release Dates: If you’re re-releasing songs, consider the downtime between taking them off one platform and them appearing on another.
3. Money Matters:
- Pending Royalties: Ensure you’ve collected all outstanding royalties from your old distributor before making the switch.
- New Costs: Be aware of any setup or transfer fees your new distributor might charge.
4. The Fine Print:
- Contractual Clauses: Some distributors might have exit clauses or penalties. Read your contract thoroughly before making a move.
- Exclusivity: If your new distributor demands exclusivity, ensure you’ve fully parted ways with the previous one.
5. The Feedback Loop:
- Reviews and Recommendations: Look for feedback from other artists who’ve made similar switches. Their experiences can offer valuable insights.
- Customer Support: Test the waters! Reach out to your prospective distributor’s support team with queries and see how they respond.
6. The New Beginnings:
- Promotions: Utilize any promotional tools or opportunities your new distributor offers to announce your switch and re-engage your audience.
- Stay Updated: The music distribution landscape is ever-evolving. Keep an eye on new features, platforms, and trends to make the most of your new partnership.
Switching music distributors is like changing band members. It can be a bit daunting, but with the right preparation and mindset, it can lead to a harmonious future. So, tune your instruments, clear your throat, and get ready for the next chapter in your musical journey!
Can You Use Multiple Music Distribution Services Simultaneously?
The Allure of Multiple Distributors:
- Diverse Platforms: Maybe one distributor gets you on that niche platform popular in Europe, while another has an exclusive deal with a trendy Asian music app. Why not both?
- Special Features: Distributor A offers fantastic promotional tools, while Distributor B has unbeatable analytics. Tempting to get the best of both worlds, right?
But Wait, There’s a Catch!:
- Double Trouble: Releasing the same track or album on multiple distributors can cause confusion. Platforms like Spotify or Apple Music might see duplicate content, leading to potential takedowns or errors.
- Royalty Complications: Tracking and collecting royalties from multiple sources can become a logistical nightmare. You might end up spending more time doing math than making music!
- Exclusivity Clauses: Some distributors might have terms that prevent you from using other services simultaneously. Always read the fine print!
The Smart Way to Multi-Distribute:
- Different Songs, Different Distributors: Consider releasing different tracks or albums with different distributors. This way, you avoid the duplicate content issue.
- Communication is Key: If you’re set on using multiple distributors for the same content, communicate with them. Some might have workarounds or advice on how to proceed without hiccups.
While the idea of casting a wide net with multiple distributors sounds appealing, it’s essential to strike the right chord. Ensure you’re not overcomplicating things for a minimal gain. After all, you want your music journey to be a harmonious one, not a series of discordant notes!
Can I Release Covers and Monetise the Songs With Music Distributors?
Ah, cover songs! The age-old tradition of taking a beloved track and adding your own unique twist. But can you turn these reimagined tunes into gold? Let’s find out!
The Basics: Cover songs are essentially renditions of tracks originally performed by other artists. While you might bring your own flavor, the underlying composition belongs to someone else. And that’s where things get a tad tricky.
The Green Light:
- Licensing, Licensing, Licensing!: Before you even think of distributing and monetizing a cover song, you need a mechanical license. This license gives you the right to reproduce and distribute the song. In the U.S., services like Harry Fox Agency or DistroKid’s Cover Song License can help you secure one.
- Royalties: When you monetize a cover, a portion of the earnings (royalties) goes to the original songwriter or copyright holder. Your mechanical license ensures they get their fair share.
The Red Flags:
- Avoid the “It’s Just a Tribute” Trap: Calling your cover a “tribute” doesn’t exempt you from needing a license. It’s a common misconception, but the law doesn’t see it that way.
- Streaming Services & Stores: Platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon have strict policies. If you distribute a cover without the proper license, you risk takedowns or even bans.
- Music Distributors & Covers: Most music distributors allow you to release cover songs. Some even offer licensing services, making the process smoother. However, always ensure you’re transparent with your distributor about releasing a cover to avoid any hiccups.
Cover songs are a fantastic way to showcase your creativity and pay homage to artists you admire. But remember, with great power (or in this case, great music) comes great responsibility. Ensure you have all the legal boxes checked before you hit that release button!
Digital music distribution services help independent artists and labels get their music heard worldwide. They distribute music to a vast network of digital music stores and streaming platforms. These digital aggregators also offer an extensive range of tools and services that help artists grow their brand, reach new fans, make money from their music, and much more.
CURATED BY OZZIE SMALL