Music Distribution: Six Steps to a Successful Release
By Space Coast Daily // August 17, 2022
Every music artist or musician has dreams of having thousands of people listen, stream, and download their music, but you might be confused about the process and how it works. How exactly do you get your music to the masses without a record label? Music distribution is the short answer, but it’s a complicated process that has evolved over the years especially in this digital age.
With so many options at your disposal, music distribution could become overwhelming for any new artist. Don’t worry, because we have your back with six steps to a successful release below.
What Is Music Distribution?
Music distribution is the process of selling your music and getting your music into the ears of potential listeners. Music distribution used to only be possible via record labels delivering your music to a brick-and-mortar store and record shops. However, all that has changed with the advent of digital distribution, which cuts out the middleman and allows music artists to release music themselves via digital distribution platforms such as Tunecore, Distrokid, CD Baby, and Bandcamp.
Make a Finished Product
You want to start with the basics before thinking about a release date or browsing music distributors. Make sure you record your music, preferably in a studio or a professional program. After you’re done recording, get an audio engineer to mix and master your tracks, so they sound professional and easy on the ears. Make sure you get mp3s as well as the highest quality sound with Wavefom Audio File Format (WAV) files. Many distributors require WAV files before releasing your music. Get a photographer or artist to help you create artwork for your single or album release. Creating these finished products is the first step for your release.
An often-overlooked aspect of the music distribution process is effective file management and file organization. It’s important to have folders with album art, single art, lyrics, WAV files, mp3s, and anything else you plan to roll-out with your release. Let’s say you pick a release date, and you go to upload everything at the last minute, you might drop the ball if your files are scattered across your personal computer. So get ahead of the curve and organize your files in one central location, so it’s easy to find when the time comes to distribute your latest album or single. Also, it’s a great idea to back-up your files on Dropbox and/or emailing files to yourself.
Figure Out Your Target Audience
The third step is figuring out your target audience. Look up music artists who have a similar sound to your own and see what type of audience they have. You can also look up live-performances and see who shows up to their shows. Is your audience young, old, female, punk, goth, edgy, clean-cut, etc? Also, make sure you know what type of genre and subgenres you wish you target as well. This way you’ll be able to reach as many listeners as possible who might dig your music.
Choose A Distributor
There are several different music distribution services and platforms available for music artists today. Many of these services allow artists to maintain ownership of their music and the vast majority of their royalties, which is the money you earn off each stream. Some of the most popular distribution services include LANDR, CD Baby, AWAL, Amuse, Tunecore, and Distrokid. A lot of these services have different features and different price points, so it’s important to do your research before choosing one. All of these will get your music uploaded to places such as Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, and Napster. You’ll even be able to get your music uploaded to social media platforms such as Tiktok, Instagram, and Youtube.
Getting your music distributed online may seem like a long process and once it’s uploaded to streaming services, your job isn’t quite done yet. Any artist knows you must promote your music if you wish to be heard and seen by potential fans. It’s important to have a loose promotion campaign plan for your single or album release.
Some companies figure out a plan three to six months ahead of time, so they can keep pushing the music to new listeners. You can look into hiring a promotion company, shoot a series of music videos or pay influencers to spread your music for you.
The music distribution landscape has changed dramatically over the last few decades with a more of an emphasis being placed on music ownership and independence. There are plenty of music distribution services that fulfill these needs for little cost to the artist. Create a clean product first, stay organized, and figure out your target audience. Afterwards, choose a distributor that aligns with your values, goals, and expectations and upload your music. Finally, execute a promotion campaign, where you push out content to keep fans engaged and new listeners coming in. Follow these six steps above and you’ll be sure to have a successful release.