Changing the Music Distribution Game

Thanks to the rise of the Internet and digital distribution, it is now easier than ever before for music artists to get their music to the masses. Since the beginning of the music industry labels have had to use artists to survive and artists have needed labels to be relevant. The case is not so today! Today having a label is almost an obsolete practice.

musicThere are some pros to having a label. They can manage an artist’s marketing and show promotion, they can help set up tours and manage tours, and they can manage the distribution of an artist’s music in stores and online. The issue is that a label usually takes a large chunk of the artist’s revenue leaving them only the revenues from live shows. Today, a successful indie artist can just hire a tour manager and a marketing and promotions manager, instead of dealing with a substantial decrease in revenue that comes with a label. The lack of a label also allows an artist complete creative control with their music so they don’t have to change something just because the label thinks it could reach a wider audience.

There are a number of options when it comes to indie music distribution. One of the most popular digital distributors is Distrokid. Distrokid offers multiple levels of subscription based service the lowest being pay $20 a year and upload as much music as you want to any of its over 150 partners. These partners include Spotify, iTunes, Google Music, Pandora, and many more! The only downside to this service is that they do not produce physical copies of discs, however artists like Chance the Rapper have found success without even releasing physical copies of their albums so this may be less of a drawback than people think. If you’re looking for a service that makes physical copies CDBaby and Tunecore, however these services are on a per album basis rather than a yearly subscription.

Other services that have risen to help independent artists include music sharing websites such as Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Soundcloud is a music sharing community where people can just put up what they have been working on free for anyone to check out at anytime. Bandcamp, on the other hand, is more similar to something like iTunes. It’s a place where artist can sell their music, as well as set up a profile where they can sell merchandise. The artists have complete control over the prices they set on Bandcamp and can even do a pay what you want option. Many artists like this website because they feel it helps foster community.

Based on the information provided by Samuel Orson in this article, we can get an idea of the payout with some of the digital services. With iTunes an artist receives %77 percent of the revenue for each purchase, with Spotify and artist receives about $.004 per stream, and with YouTube artists receive $.0004 per stream. Samuel also gave insight into some of the revenue breakdown for Bandcamp. He mentions how Bandcamp give you a larger chunk of the profit the more people pay for your music. So an artist can get about %77 for an album that sells for $5 and close to %80 with an album that sells for $10.

musicBut who would I be if I didn’t put my money where my mouth is? You can check out my artist profile and my EP Reset Navigation on Spotify and iTunes, distributed through Distrokid. As well as, my Bandcamp profile here. Who knows maybe I’ll write the next indie hit?

-Jonathan Carpenter

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