Everything You Need To Know About Music Distribution

"Our friends over at Spinnup have put together this incredibly valuable information for anyone releasing music online. They’ve also kindly provided an amazing offer for the Mastering The Mix community which can be found below. Enjoy!"

Tom Frampton, Director @ Mastering The Mix

If you’re anything like us, it can sometimes be hard to find enough hours in the day to listen to all the amazing new music that’s released every day and every week. We’re living in a time that sees almost 40,000 new tracks a day being added to streaming services.

How do artists everywhere do that, and get their music on music platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and all the rest?

Distribution. Or more specifically, a distribution service. 

Here’s where we introduce ourselves. We’re Spinnup, a global DIY distribution platform that was created by Universal Music to give independent artists a way to easily get their music online, a way to earn money from their music, and a way to get signed. But more on that later.

Everything you need to know about music distribution

Before we dive right in, just a note that the Mastering The Mix & Bounce Boss community can distribute a single (1 or 2 tracks) FREE for the first year with the code SPINNUPXBOUNCEBOSS.
Sign up here to get started.

(Must be redeemed before July 31st, 2020 23:59GMT)

What is Music Distribution?

Essentially, it is the link between your music and consumers. 

Distribution takes your music and places it on platforms for consumers to listen to. Platforms we all know very well such as iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and Deezer, and others such as Shazam, Beatport, Shazam, and 7 Digital, all platforms that are friends of ours at Spinnup.

If you’ve ever wondered how to get onto all of those platforms and more, it is via a digital music distributor - and there are many music distributors. At Spinnup we distribute music digitally - digital consumption of music is now the most popular way to listen to music so it’s a no-brainer. Even CDs are becoming obsolete (and who has a CD player in their pocket or even their computer anymore?)  Some OG ones distribute physical copies of music, like CDs, tapes and vinyl, but these days most distribute digital music, and some do all of the above. 

Sometimes the distributor is the link between a record label and the consumer, as is often the case with indie and smaller labels, and for DIY artists they are the link between you and the fans. In this article, we’ll be looking at digital distribution (like us) for the independent artist (like you).

Release songs to streaming platforms

On Spinnup all it takes is a few clicks of a button and a small subscription fee to distribute your songs GLOBALLY to over 30 stores. Provide us with your music, artwork, and all the deets of the release (we call it metadata) and we will assign ISRC and UPC codes to your music, make sure everything is up to scratch by the stores’ guidelines, and then send it off to our partner stores. As soon as people start hitting play on your music, we’ll give you daily stats to track in your artist account.

The best part? You earn royalties every time your track is streamed or downloaded and at Spinnup, we pay artists 100% of their royalties in monthly sales reports, which you can withdraw at any time via PayPal. 

We’ve got quite a few friends in the distribution game artists can choose from – ones that give you access to various national and international platforms, have different costs or payment structure, and some that are free and take a percentage of royalties as a fee.

Often paying a percentage of royalties to a distributor ends up being much more expensive for the artist in the long run, even if it was initially free to distribute your release. We believe artists should keep everything they earn, so we charge a small flat rate subscription fee and have zero hidden costs or extra features you need to pay more for.

Distributing your music

How Do You Start?

Get on the internet and search 'music distribution for unsigned', or 'independent artists'. Check out the different prices and clauses. Free or dirt cheap fees may be enticing, and it might save you money now, but it doesn’t mean they will do a good job. On the flip side, be wary of extortionate prices. 

The Three Main Things To Look For Are;

  • Keeping your rights
  • Keeping your profits
  • Worldwide distribution over multiple platforms

Distributors Charge Fees:

  • Per release
  • Charge one fee per year for unlimited releases
  • Take a percentage of your earnings

The first two are the most common practice. In our opinion avoid any distributor that wants to take a cut of your profits or who wants a percentage of the rights to your music. 

Spinnup artists keep complete control of their music (we don’t hold any rights) and pay artists 100% of what they earn. We have the added bonus of a major label affiliation, which increases the chances of your music being heard by the team at Universal Music Group. And getting heard could lead you to getting signed, which over 80 Spinnup artists have been.

Tracking your streaming royalties

What Do I Need To Supply To Get Music Distributed? 

Once you have signed up with your distributor - you will need;

  • The music you want to release (a song, an E.P. or an album) in a high-quality format, usually WAV or FLAC file
  • The artwork to go with the music. This must be a perfect square and a minimum of 3000x3000 pixels… so that also means high quality
  • Info about the release. The title, featuring artists, songwriters (and their publishers), song lyrics, etc.
  • Release date. You get to choose!

Once your release is with the distributor and ready on the platforms - you will be able to do things like claim your artist profile, pitch to playlists. And at Spinnup once it’s live, we’ll send you a unique promo link to share with your fans and followers. Look out for them and share, share, share! 

The biggest platform for playlisting is Spotify - so sign up for ‘Spotify For Artists’ to manage this.  Apple Music For Artists is another great platform with an artist profile you can edit, find out how to do that here 

What Else Should I Look For In a Distributor?

The rest is really personal preference as to what additional help you need as an artist.

Are you a data fiend and want daily stats from the biggest music stores on where and how people are listening to your music? (FYI, we do that)

Or do you want tools that will help you promote yourself? (We have those too)

Perhaps you’d prefer a distribution service that gives artists access to live opportunities, events, and the biggest records labels in the world? (*raises hand*)

Streaming metrics on Spinnup

At Spinnup we have developed tools for our artists to help them manage their careers and promote themselves all from the one platform. We provide promo links for each release that are great for promoting music online & social media, artists can create and customize their own website using our Artist Site builder, and we have a whole stats section that artists can use to track their music and social media to get an overview on how their tracks & content are performing. 

Whatever it is you’re looking for, spend some time poking around the websites of the distributors and see which one will be right for you. Make sure you always keep control over how your music is released, which ultimately more control over how you manage your career.

Get your tracks out there and see where your music takes you. If you decide to let Spinnup be a part of your career, sign up here and release a single free for the first year using the code SPINNUPXBOUNCEBOSS. We’ll be there every step of the way.