Artist’s Guide: An Introduction to Digital Music Distribution


Over the years, the way we consume music has changed drastically. Many of ‘90s kids relied heavily on the radio to discover new music and new bands. I personally discovered a tonne of my favorite bands thanks to radios shows like Rick Dee’s Weekly Top 40 on Capital FM, as
well as Metal To Midnight on X-FM.

But with the advance of technology, a majority of people now rely on the internet and it’s variety of streaming services in order to discover new music. Streaming services have become the preferred method of consumption and discovery thanks to the ease of access and convenience;
all your music in one place and accessible across multiple devices.


With that being said, a majority of Kenyan bands are yet to make their music accessible on these streaming platforms, which in turn means that they are missing out on a very large audience. This guide aims to help bands understand how to get their music on streaming
platforms and the different services available.

Choosing a Digital Distributor


Digital distributors, otherwise known as aggregators, offer a variety of services to artists and one of the main services is delivering your music to digital stores such as Spotify, Apple Music etc. Stores do not accept direct music submissions and as such you will have to go through a digital
distributor to achieve this.

Choosing a digital distributor can seem a bit daunting at first given how many options are currently available. This guide aims to provide a list of distributors that one can choose form depending on their needs and their requirements. The list is however not exhaustive.

TuneCore

TuneCore is a subscription based digital distributor that offers artists worldwide music distribution for their single(s), album, EP etc. It has a simple and easy to navigate interface that makes the music submission process straight forward and rather seamless.


Their pricing is subscription based and it costs $9.99/yr for a single or $29.99/yr per album for the first year (this cost then becomes $49.99/yr each following year)


It is worth noting that unlike other distributors TuneCore also delivers your music to Boomplay, a streaming platform that is rather popular in East Africa.


TuneCore also offers additional artist services such as Music Publishing Administration which would allow you to license your music for further income. You can also monetize your YouTube videos which in turn allows you to earn extra revenue from your music.

Distrokid

Distrokid is arguably one of the most popular digital distribution services thanks to their relatively low-cost subscription model. Unlike other distributors that charge you a yearly fee per release, Distrokid charges a single yearly price that allows you to distribute as much music as you want.


Distrokid offers a variety of plans to suit your needs and their pricing is as follows:
● Musician: 1 band/artist, $1 9.99/year
● Musician Plus: 2 bands/artists, $35.99/year (save 1 0%)
● Label 5: 5 bands/artists, $79.99/year (save 20%)


Distrokid also delivers your music to platforms such as TikTok and this in turn gives you “a chance to go viral” – read that statement with a pinch of salt because its not that easy.

They also offer additional services such as a video generator to help you promote your music and the ‘Wheel of Playlist’ feature which lets you get one their Spotify playlist.
Worth noting, however, is that some artists have commented that their customer support services could be a bit better as they use a ticketing system to report errors and tickets are closed after a generic response that doesn’t always solve the issue.

CD Baby



CD Baby is amongst one of the most popular distribution services thanks to their hands-on approach. The platform is proactive in helping artists exploit all possible markets for their songs including publishing administration, CD and vinyl distribution and also sync licensing. They also offer physical distribution of your single/album.


Unlike other distributors CD Baby has no annual fees, they instead have a one-time fee for your release. The fee differs between choosing a ‘standard’ release or a ‘pro’ release and is as
follows:
● Standard single: $9.95
● Pro single: $29.95
● Standard album: $29
● Pro album: $69

The ‘Pro’ option comes with a variety of features that the standard option lacks such as worldwide publishing royalty collection, Performing Rights Organisation affiliation (in the USA or Canada) and direct song registration with global royalty collection societies.

Amuse

Amuse is another digital distributor that has been growing in popularity over the last few years. They were established in 2017 and have had numerous artists since then. Amuse’s popularity can be attributed to the fact that they are a free service i.e. they do not charge your for
distributing your music.


Deliver to stores takes an average of 4 weeks so you will want to plan your release accordingly. Despite being free, artists keep 100% of all royalties. However, they do offer ‘Amuse Pro’ which costs $5/month (based on their yearly subscription) and this has additional features such as fast
lane music release within 14 days, music on social platforms such as Instagram and TikTok as well as multiple artist profiles and fast lane customer support.


Another unique feature of Amuse is that they have a record label that they use to partner with artists and help them with digital marketing, radio plugging, artists PR etc.

Africori

Africori was established in 2009 to address the lack of opportunities available to African artists in the digital industry. Since then it has established itself as the leading distributor for a variety of
African artists.

Digital music distribution is among-st the services offered by Africori and they deliver your music to 200+ music platforms across Africa and the world. On top of this they also offer additional services such as marketing, video monetization, licensing and artist development.


Seeing as they are aimed towards the African market, Africori delivers your music to popular streaming platforms such as Boomplay and Mdundo. They also work with Performing Rights Organisations such as the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK).


Unlike the other digital distributors listed Africori does not seem to have a specific price for distribution. Instead, it seems like artists need to contact Africori in regards to their needs.

LANDR



LANDR is a unique service that offers artists global music distribution and professional mastering under one roof. The main benefit of this is that you save some money on mastering your music seeing as you do not have to pay for extra services to do this.


They offer several pricing options depending on what services you would like to use. For music distribution their prices are as follows
● Lite: Free
● Complete: $20/yr
● Unlimited: $89/yr

Although their ‘Lite’ package is free to sign up to, it will cost you $9 per single, $29 perEP/album and they take a 15% commission. The ‘Complete’ package will cost $5 per single, $1 9 per EP/album and they take a 9%
commission.


For the ‘Unlimited’ package single and album releases are included in the subscription fee and they will cost you extra. They also do not take a commission and you keep 1 00% of earnings.

Conclusion

Although this list is not extensive, it should nevertheless give you a good understanding of the different digital distributors available as well as the different services they offer. There are numerous other distributors available but unfortunately we are unable to cover them all.


The most important aspect about choosing a digital distributor is to be sure they can provide
YOU with the services YOU need. This may include sync licensing, YouTube and SoundCloud monetization, ringtones etc. We all have different individual needs when it comes to releasing and distributing our music so make sure your needs are adequately addressed.


Take your time and do your research, speak to fellow artists about which distributor they use and why they use that particular distributor. It is also important to keep in mind the cost implication of your preferred choice as you may be tied to an annual or monthly subscription.

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