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Digital Music Distribution: Everything You Need Know

How many record labels are you signed with? None? I wouldn’t worry about that because today, we’re learning how to distribute your music. Independent artistes no longer need to be dependent on a record label to get their music out into the world.

You’re an artiste and you’ve recorded a song you want people to hear. You’ve already done the difficult part of working out arrangements and laying everything to tape or hard drive. Now it’s time to release your music via a music distribution service.

You could upload your music yourself to Soundcloud, YouTube, Audiomack and call it good — but that’s not quite music distribution; those are standalone Web sites that host your music.

What is digital distribution?

Digital distribution is how you get your music onto platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. It is the process of managing and transferring your work in digital form to platforms that make the music more widely available.

Two ways consumers access music from digital platforms:

  • Downloads: This is the original way people accessed digital music files. A download is a copy of the original file that the host platform creates for the consumer. The listener then saves that file on their device of choice (desktop, iPad, etc.) where they’ll use a media player to play back the audio file.
  • Streaming: This is the second, newer, way people access digital files. A digital music stream also creates a copy of the file, but unlike a download the listener does not get to keep the reproduced file; they can only listen to the audio by accessing it on their platform of choice.

Okay, but why can’t I distribute my music myself?

Another way to ask this is, “Why can’t an unsigned artiste get their songs onto Spotify and Apple Music directly?”

To put it simply, you as the artiste are not their customer. Your fans are their customers. These companies don’t want to take on the substantial service and development burden of dealing directly with millions of musicians, as evidenced by Spotify’s quickly-abandoned experiment with direct uploads.

We all know the major streaming and download platforms, but there are dozens of smaller digital services, many of which are popular in specific territories. Distribution companies sends your music to those services and any new ones that we sign agreements with, at no extra charge to you. Those partners include:

  • Apple Music/iTunes
  • Spotify
  • Amazon
  • YouTube Music
  • Tidal
  • Boomplay
  • Deezer
  • And 150+ more

How do I get my music on digital platforms?

Sign up to any of the stores below

  1. Distrokid
  2. Ditto music
  3. Tunecore
  4. CDBaby
  5. Contact for distribution assistance by calling: +233246106248

What should I distribute first, a single or album?

Chances are, if you’re a new artiste you likely only have a song or two ready to go. We firmly recommend you start with a single instead of waiting to record an album’s worth of material. A single gets your music distributed so you can establish a presence on the download and streaming services.

When will my music be live?

This depends on the release date you set for your submission. If you set a future release date for your music, the platforms won’t make it live until that date.

What matters more for your music than the release date is the release timeline. We recommend setting a release date for your submission about a month in the future. This enables you to do some planning and promotion for your music.

Listen to any of our Digital Music Education Series podcasts below to enrich your knowledge


About Jonilar

Jonilar is a Ghanaian Publicist, Tourist and Brand expert. He has been nominated for a couple of awards including African Youth Awards,Ghana Music Awards South Africa in the category of “Blogger of the year” category. He writes on Music, Tourism, Digital marketing, Youth development etc. Mobile:+233246106248

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