Music distribution: How to monetize music and get paid as an artist

Music distribution

Music Distribution

Music distribution has become the cornerstone of effective music promotion strategies. It not only enables artists to monetize their works but also safeguards their rights.

Understanding the significance of music distribution is paramount. It forms the foundation upon which successful music promotion strategies are built.

Watch: First steps of professional music marketing

Apparently, music distribution offers other promotional opportunities such as pitching for Apple Music and Spotify editorial playlists. It is an opportunity to setup and promote of pre-save campaigns, and creating media buzz ahead of release.

This is why it should be the first thing to be done as far as music promotion is concerned.

In this blog post, we will introduce you to the concept of music distribution, its benefits to an artist’s music promotion.

We will also teach you the things to consider when choosing a music distribution company as well as tips for a successful music distribution.

However, one question that remains on our minds is – what is music distribution?

What is music distribution?

Music distribution refers to the process of monetizing and making recorded music available to the public for patronages through a music distribution company. Patronages could be in the form of streams and buys online.

Watch: Distribute and monetize your music like a pro

The process involves getting music from the artist or record label to the listeners or consumers on Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify, Boomplay, YouTube Music and more.

Distributing music professionally implies  a strategic and effective process to maximize the reach and potential success of the music.

It involves working with reputable distribution companies or platforms that specialize in getting music to a wider audience.

It also involves adopting certain strategic tips that I will be sharing with you at the end of this article.

Benefits of music distribution to artists

1. Monetizing Music and Generating Revenue:

One of the primary reasons why music distribution is essential is its ability to monetize an artist’s work on digital streaming platforms.

Through distribution, artists gain access to a vast audience base and can earn money whenever their music is streamed or downloaded.

This revenue stream is vital for sustaining an artist’s career, as it provides them with the financial support needed to create more music, invest in marketing efforts, and grow their fan base.

2. Safeguarding artists’ Rights:

Music distribution plays a crucial role in securing the rights of artists.

By distributing their music through reputable platforms, artists can ensure that their work is protected and properly licensed. This protects them from unauthorized use, piracy, and copyright infringement, providing a level of security and control over their creative output.

Music Distribution
Gkloze Bambia, fast rising Reggae/Dancehall artist

Establishing a strong foundation through distribution ensures that artists can focus on their craft without worrying about the misuse of their intellectual property.

3. Opening Doors to Opportunities:

When an artist engages in music distribution, it opens up a world of opportunities for promotion and exposure.

Many streaming platforms offer editorial playlists curated by influential tastemakers, which can significantly boost an artist’s visibility and reach.

By strategically pitching their music for playlist consideration, artists increase their chances of gaining recognition and attracting new listeners.

Additionally, music distribution can lead to collaborations, licensing opportunities, and other avenues for growth that may arise from increased exposure and industry connections.

4. Building a Fan Base:

A successful music promotion strategy hinges on building a dedicated fan base. Music distribution is a vital component of this process, as it allows artists to connect with listeners around the globe.

By making their music easily accessible on various platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Deezer and more, artists can reach a wider audience and cultivate a loyal following globally.

Engaging with fans through social media and other digital channels becomes more effective when supported by music distribution, as it provides a centralized platform for fans to discover, engage, and support the artist’s work.

How artists get paid through music distribution companies

To get music on digital streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube, an artist needs to work with a music distribution company.

These companies help artists make their music available to a wide audience, handling the technical aspects of delivering music to stores.

To make this happen, artists give distribution companies the right to distribute their music. It means that the distribution company is authorized to upload the artist’s songs to streaming platforms, making them accessible to listeners.

Now, when people listen to the artist’s music on these streaming platforms, the artist is entitled to get paid for it. These payments are known as royalties.

Music distribution
Vivien Ebix, Nigerian Gospel artist

In the case of digital streaming, one type of royalty is called mechanical royalties.

Mechanical royalties are paid to songwriters and composers when their music is reproduced or “mechanically” reproduced, such as when it’s streamed or downloaded.

When someone streams an artist’s song on a platform, a mechanical royalty is generated.

Here’s where the distribution company comes in again.

They track and collect these mechanical royalties on behalf of the artist. They have systems in place to monitor how many times the artist’s songs are streamed or downloaded on different platforms.

Once the distribution company has collected the mechanical royalties, they pass on the artist’s share to them.

Distribution companies like ONErpm usually takes 15 percentage as their fee for their services, and the remaining amount is paid to the artist.

Meanwhile, Distrokid, TuneCore and CD Baby are known to pay out 100 percent of mechanical revenues to artists while charging a fee for their services.

So, music distribution means that artists give distribution companies permission to make their music available on streaming platforms.

When people stream or buy music from stores, mechanical royalties are generated.

The distribution company tracks and collects these royalties and then pays the artist their share according to their terms of service.

Choosing a company for distribution of Music

Per requirement, it is important to read the terms and conditions of a music distribution company carefully before signing up for music distribution services.

Music distribution companies like Amuse Music offer free music distribution services but with limited reach whereas ONErpm offers a wider reach for your music for free but withholds 15% of any earnings.

Hence, it is advisable to read through the terms governing these music distribution companies before signing up.

Here are a few other things to consider before choosing a music distribution company for the distribution of your musical releases:

1. Research and Reputation:

When searching for a music distribution company, thorough research is essential. Look for companies with a strong reputation in the industry and a proven track record of successfully distributing music.

Consider their client base, years of operation, and any testimonials or reviews from artists they have worked with.

A reputable distribution company is more likely to have established relationships with streaming platforms, ensuring your music reaches a wide audience.

2. Distribution Reach:

Evaluate the distribution reach of potential companies. The broader their network, the greater the chances of your music reaching various platforms, such as streaming services, online stores, social media platforms, and more.

Ensure that the company has partnerships with popular platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Amazon Music, and Deezer, among others.

A wide distribution reach enhances your visibility and increases the potential for monetization.

3. Royalty Splits and Payment Terms:

Understand the royalty splits and payment terms offered by each distribution company.

Some companies may take a percentage of your earnings in exchange for their services, while others may charge upfront fees or offer a subscription-based model.

Carefully consider the terms and choose a company that aligns with your financial goals.

It’s important to know how and when you will receive your earnings and what fees or deductions may apply.

4. Additional Services:

Beyond distribution, many music distribution companies offer additional services to support artists in their monetization efforts.

These services may include music promotion, marketing support, playlist pitching, synchronization licensing, and more.

Assess your specific needs and goals as an artist, and choose a distribution company that provides the services that will benefit your career the most.

However, keep in mind that additional services may come at an extra cost, so evaluate the value they provide in relation to your budget.

5. Analytics and Reporting:

Effective music distribution involves tracking and analyzing your music’s performance. Opt for a distribution company that provides comprehensive analytics and reporting tools.

These tools will help you understand important metrics like streams, downloads, audience demographics, and playlist placements.

The ability to access and analyze this data empowers you to make informed decisions about your marketing and promotional strategies, leading to better monetization opportunities.

Selecting the best music distribution company is a crucial step in monetizing your music effectively.

Consider factors such as reputation, distribution reach, royalty splits, payment terms, additional services, and analytics capabilities when making your decision.

By partnering with a reliable and professional distribution company, you can ensure your music reaches a wide audience, maximize your earning potential, and focus on creating great music while they handle the intricacies of distribution and monetization.

Tips for successful distribution of musical release

1 Set a future release date

It is often the case that most upcoming artists want their releases to drop on digital streaming platforms within 24 hours. That is a totally wrong approach to modern music marketing.

Setting a future date for the release of a song is an important strategy for effectively sharing and promoting your music.

Let’s relate this to TuneCore’s advice to artists about setting a release date 3-4 weeks in the course of uploading music for distribution.

When you upload your music to platforms like TuneCore, it goes through a process of distribution to various streaming services and online stores.

This process takes some time, usually a few weeks, for your music to be properly processed and made available to listeners worldwide.

By setting a release date 3-4 weeks from the day of uploading, you allow enough time for the distribution process to be completed.

This means that when your release date arrives, your music will be available on popular streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and others.

This ensures that your fans and potential listeners can easily find and listen to your music as soon as it’s officially released.

Additionally, setting a release date in the future gives you the opportunity to plan and execute effective promotional activities.

It allows you to build anticipation and excitement among your fans, as you can start promoting your upcoming release through social media, newsletters, or other marketing channels.

This way, when the release date finally arrives, your fans will be eagerly waiting to listen to your new song, which can lead to more streams, downloads, and engagement.

2 Pitch Music for Playlist Opportunities

When you distribute your music, there is a chance for your songs to be considered for special placements called editorial and feature placements.

These placements can be incredibly valuable for your music promotion strategy because they give your music a lot of exposure and increase the likelihood of reaching a wider audience.

An example of Spotify Afrobeat playlist

Editorial placements usually involve music editors of specific digital streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, who select specific songs or artists to highlight and promote.

These placements can include being featured on popular playlists with the potential of reaching users with specific music tastes.

Feature placements, on the other hand, refer to having your music prominently displayed or highlighted on music platforms. This could mean being showcased on the homepage of platforms like Spotify, Boomplay or Deezer.

Being included in a special section dedicated to new releases, or being recommended to users based on their listening habits is crucial to music being discovered by a wider audience.

Why is this an important opportunity for your music promotion strategy? Well, these editorial and feature placements can significantly boost your visibility and increase the chances of people discovering and listening to your music.

They act as a sort of endorsement or recommendation, giving your music credibility and exposure to a wider audience who might not have come across your music otherwise.

Ultimately, being featured in these placements can help you gain new fans and attract attention from industry professionals. It also potentially open doors to more opportunities like collaborations, live performances, or even record deals.

It’s an essential part of a music promotion strategy because it helps you stand out in a crowded music landscape and increases your chances of success as an artist.

3 Set up and promote presave campaign

Pre-saving music is an important opportunity for artists to promote their music before its official release date.

It allows fans and listeners to save the upcoming music in their music libraries or playlists ahead of time.

This can generate excitement and anticipation, leading to a stronger release when the music becomes available.

DistroKid and TuneCore are two popular music distribution services that offer pre-save options, particularly for Apple Music.

In the course of uploading a song for distribution, artists are prompted to specify a date for the commencement of Apple Music pre-add.

However, platforms such as ToneDen,, offer music presave setups to help artists promote their upcoming releases on Apple Music, Spotify & Deezer.

Top music distribution companies

Here are some examples of top music distribution companies and what makes them stand out in the industry:

1. CD Baby: CD Baby is one of the largest and most well-known music distribution companies.

They have a user-friendly platform that allows independent artists to distribute their music to major online platforms, such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.

CD Baby stands out for its wide reach, affordable pricing, and extensive artist resources, including marketing tools and analytics.

2. TuneCore: TuneCore is another popular music distribution company that offers comprehensive distribution services.

They provide artists with the ability to distribute their music globally and keep 100% of their royalties.

TuneCore stands out for its transparent pricing structure, easy-to-use interface, and additional services like music publishing administration.

3. DistroKid: DistroKid is known for its simplicity and speed in music distribution. They offer unlimited music uploads for a low annual fee, making it attractive for prolific artists.

DistroKid is also known for its fast distribution times, often getting music on streaming platforms within 24 hours.

Additionally, they offer unique features like YouTube Content ID, which helps artists monetize their music on YouTube.

4. AWAL (Artists Without A Label): AWAL is a distribution company that focuses on providing support and resources to independent artists.

They offer personalized artist services, such as marketing, playlist pitching, and sync licensing opportunities.

AWAL stands out for its artist-friendly approach, transparent reporting, and the ability for artists to retain ownership of their music.

5. The Orchard: The Orchard is a music distribution and artist services company that provides a range of services to independent artists and labels.

They offer worldwide distribution, marketing, sync licensing, and comprehensive analytics tools.

The Orchard stands out for its vast network and strong relationships with platforms, labels, and retailers, which can help artists gain exposure and maximize their reach.

6. Symphonic Distribution: Symphonic Distribution is known for its focus on electronic dance music (EDM) and urban genres.

They provide distribution, marketing, and royalty collection services, with a particular emphasis on connecting artists with DJs, influencers, and playlists in the electronic music community.

Symphonic stands out for its niche expertise and specialized support for artists in these genres.

These are just a few examples of top music distribution companies. Each with their own unique features and advantages.

Ultimately, the choice of the distribution company depends on the specific needs and goals of the artist or label.

For more for enquires on artist management and music promotion services, reach us on WhatsApp

About Francis Onyema

Francis Onyema is a passionate writer, blogger and digital marketer.

View all posts by Francis Onyema

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