Understanding Music Distribution For Independent Artists

August 24, 2018 | Music Distribution

Whether you’re an established artist who has a slew of Grammy nominations under their belt, or an industry newbie who is just deciding to put music out – fact is, you’ll need to distribute your music in the most efficient way.

With the change of trends in how people consume music, and the shift towards digital platforms from physical to digital – there have been massive changes in the way music is distributed.

Distributing music has more to it than making your music available; it’s about creating a wave that creates an impact and actually influences the culture. The music has to transfer from your studio to the smartphones of your audience.

It has to transfer from a factory all the way to a retail store where the CD is sold. The problem with distribution today, however, is that your people access music in a number of different ways, in many of different places.

This is where music distribution comes in.

What exactly is music distribution?

Distributing is the act of sharing something with one or more recipients. This is exactly what Music distribution comes down to. However, there are two different aspects to distributing music that any independent artist must be aware of before venturing into distributing their own music.

Physical music distribution

Physical distribution is the conventional way of distributing your music: make the vinyl and CDs available with the help of record stores – be those stores be brick and mortar stores or online stores.

This is a less popular method of distributing music today – and many of the biggest artists in the world have released full length studio albums without making them physically available. However, the art of music being distributed through CDs and vinyls is very much alive and won’t completely die out anytime soon.

Digital music distribution

This is the multi faceted version of distributing music that is at its trendiest today. Downloading brought a radical change to the music industry at the onset of the 21st century.

Before there was some policing on the internet, fans pirated music rampantly through companies such as Napster, and were able to download millions of tracks from all popular artists without paying anything.

Today, digital distribution can consist of anything from selling music online, making it available on online stores like iTunes, or streaming through streaming apps like Spotify.

However way it’s done, digital distribution is significantly more popular and convenient than physical distribution today, and seems to be a fast growing and expanding field.

In addition to using streaming apps, digital distribution of music also involves video platforms like Dailymotion and YouTube that make music more accessible and appealing with the help of visuals.

The monetization services that come with such distribution of music can help you make money without requiring your listeners to pay for your music.

How important is distribution for independent artists?

Making music has more to it than just going to a studio and recording a good album. How well received your music is and how many people are exposed to it is significantly dependent on how exactly he music is distributed.

If distributed with ineffective, ill planned strategies and platforms – even the music with the most potential can end up unsuccessful. There are also many other reasons why music distribution is a primary factor in the process of delivering your music to the masses.

Speedy music delivery to digital platforms

Fact of the matter is, digital distribution is the way to get people to listen to your music now – and getting a distributor to do this for you can massively help this process.

The long standing relationships that a music distributor can have with big digital music platforms is one of the reasons that influence the accessibility of your music.

Robust metadata delivery, Strategic physical distribution and Pre-sales on Amazon, iTunes and other digital platforms are some of the advantages of using effective digital distribution strategies.

No record labels required

Conventionally, distribution is done by signing deals with record labels that gives them the right to sell your music. The label gets a percentage of the earnings from your music.

With the advent of the internet and social media, the conventional methods of distributor don’t have to be the path that an independent artist has to follow.

You don’t have to be signed to a record label to be able to distribute your music widely anymore.

With the help of video platforms like Facebook Videos, YouTube and even social media apps like Twitter and Instagram – the most independent artists have been able to amass a following, build a fanbase, and then distribute their music on their own by uploading it on digital platforms.

Strategic release campaigns

If you happen to be releasing and distribute music as an independent artist, there’s a lot you can do to plan your release in a strategic and well thought out strategy, that gets it to maximum exposure, and helps break it into a new audience.

One of the most effective ways of doing this is using pre-saves and pre-sales in order to enable your fans to actually engage with you and your music before its release. Pre-sales on Amazon and iTunes can enable you to capture download sales before the actual release as well as giving your fans an instant track the moment the place a pre-order.

Their card is then charged when the album is finally released, but they already had access to music that wasn’t officially released before. This is a smart approach to distributing music that many artists have used to release their albums.

Moreover, since pre-sales are counted as first day sales, there’s a much higher chance of your music charting as it is released.

Pre-saves can also greatly increase your first day streaming, which puts the Spotify algorithm in your favour and also makes your songs end up in playlists that have a lot of listeners subscribed.

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