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Releasing your music as an independent musician can be a complex process, and we understand the challenges you face along the way. Whether you're a new musician or an experienced one, it's easy to overlook important steps and encounter unfamiliar factors.
From determining the ideal time to deliver your music to stores and pitching your release to editors, to registering your songs for publishing and crafting an effective press release, there are numerous tasks that can feel overwhelming. To ensure that no step is left out and to help you stay organized and on track, we have developed a comprehensive checklist of tasks along with corresponding timelines.
We are thrilled to introduce our new plan templates, designed to take care of all the small details and simplify your workflow. Our ultimate goal is to make planning your next steps an enjoyable experience!
Our new release plans include:
Full Release: This plan covers all the essential aspects of releasing your music, providing a comprehensive and detailed approach to ensure a successful launch. For musicians who wish to pitch all DSP music editors on time, this is ideal.
Essential Release: If you're looking for a streamlined plan that focuses on the key elements necessary for a successful release, the Essential Release plan is perfect for you.
Fast Release: For those seeking a quick and efficient release plan, our Fast Release option is designed to help you get your music out there rapidly while maintaining a professional approach.
These new plans perfectly complement our existing popular options, such as our Music Video plan and our 5-step TikTok guide. So, if you have an upcoming release on the horizon, we encourage you to try our new planner and ensure that nothing falls between the cracks.
Start Planning Your Next Release!
Wondering how to make money from music? You’re not alone. While streaming platforms have made it simpler for independent musicians to access new audiences and unlock revenue streams, it’s not always easy to secure a healthy income. According to a recent survey, independent artists were earning as little as $12,200 from their music. Unless you want to subsidize your musical career with a full-time job, you need to be thinking about how to monetize your music.
The good news is that you have many different avenues available to you. From streaming royalties and digital downloads to live gigs and sync licensing agreements, there’s plenty of profit out there for independent musicians.
Understand the Music Industry Landscape
While music downloads have been around since the 1990s, few people would have anticipated the dramatic shift in music industry trends and the streaming-first landscape we now find ourselves in. For listeners, the age of digital downloads and streaming platforms has made music more accessible than ever before. In theory, this is also great news for artists. Without having to secure contracts with record labels, they’re free to distribute their content on their own terms. However, many of the same challenges that have always faced musicians remain. Emerging musicians looking to earn a steady income really need to be leveraging multiple revenue streams.
Aspiring musicians can tap into earnings from streaming royalties, music sponsorships, sync deals, and physical sales. For up-and-coming talent, music crowdfunding platforms are becoming increasingly popular as a way to raise capital to get ambitious album plans off the ground. There are also more conventional ways to secure an income, such as from touring and performing live gigs. More established artists can access further revenues from music merchandise.
Different Ways To Make Money From Your Music
If you’re wondering how to make money in music, streaming should be your focus. Once your music has been uploaded to and released on platforms like Spotify, Deezer, and Apple Music, you can start to reap the rewards of streaming royalties. However, don’t expect a fortune to land in your lap overnight. While streaming can bring in a trickle of income, you’ll need to secure a significant number of streams to take home any real money. Spotify is often considered one of the better-paying platforms out there, reimbursing artists around $0.004 every time a track is played. As of 2023, Spotify has paid out more than $40 billion in streaming royalties. Artists can turn to distributors like IndieFlow to ensure their content is uploaded directly to the most lucrative streaming platforms.
2. Publishing Royalties
Music publishing royalties are another valuable revenue stream for independent artists. Your music is your intellectual property, and, if an organization wishes to use your content, they’ll need to shell out for an annual license. This music licensing agreement is composed of two types of royalties: performance royalties and mechanical royalties. If you hold the sole copyright of your music, you profit from both.
3. Live Gigs and Touring
Live gigs and touring have always been an important source of revenue for new talent. Even with the advent of streaming platforms, live shows remain a staple earner for independent musicians. Artists can enjoy a slice of ticket sales and door fees, as well as direct payment from venue owners. The most successful musicians continue to keep live performances at the heart of their artistry. In 2022, The Rolling Stones pocketed more than $8.5 million per show from touring.
4. Physical Sales
While streaming and digital downloads are now considered the chief marker of success, there’s still room for physical sales. Although many artists consider printing hard copies of CDs and vinyl an unnecessary expense, it’s surprisingly cost-effective and a must if you’re looking to merchandise your music at live shows.
What’s more, more listeners are rediscovering the joy of owning physical copies of the music they love. In 2022, vinyl sales were at their highest since 1990, with the likes of Taylor Swift and Harry Styles topping the charts.
5. Music Sync Licensing
Music sync licensing is another way to monetize your music. These deals can be hard to secure, but with a sync licensing deal under your belt, you’ll earn a tidy sum every time your music is played in visual media. This can include video games, television shows, movies, and more. Under this type of deal, musicians receive a flat fee for their music to be used. However, they also benefit from ongoing royalties if content is redistributed or a broadcast is repeated. Unfortunately, this kind of licensing agreement isn’t readily accessible to aspiring artists. In order to tap into these revenues, you’ll need a music publisher with connections with the right networks and streaming services.
Tips for Monetizing Your Music
1. Establish Your Brand
As you can see, there is no shortage of ways to make money from your music. However, before you can start earning, you’ll need to work on your music brand, establish yourself as an artist, and build a fanbase.
Every type of revenue stream requires that you have an audience. If you’re an emerging musician, you should be thinking about curating a unique brand persona anyway. Take the time to work on your brand identity and messaging, creating a consistent presence across every platform.
2. Use Social Media
Social media is an essential part of any musician’s toolkit, making it easy to drum up interest in new content, promote shows, and engage with fans. However, it can also be used to generate additional income. If you have a sizable following, you can even turn your hand to influencer marketing, promoting products and/or services. However, you need to be careful not to tarnish your brand and present yourself as a sellout. To play it safe, use your social media channels to market your own merchandise.
A far more credible way of monetizing your social media channels is to sell ads. Partner with companies that fit organically with your brand identity and core values. You can also explore affiliate marketing. While the gains might be small, they can still yield a steady return. Again, you’ll need to be delicate with your approach here. Make sure anything that you’re promoting is a natural fit with your brand persona.
3. Networking and Collaborations
Struggling to make money from your music? You need to up your game when it comes to industry networking. Collaborations are good for broadening your reach and securing new listeners. If you already have a large online following, finding talent who’ll be prepared to work with you should be easy enough. You can air on the side of caution and partner with musicians producing similar music within the same genre, or explore a more left-field collaboration.
If it’s still early days, you’ll have to be a little less ambitious when identifying potential side hustles. Look for up-and-coming bands and singers searching for session musicians and backing vocalists to help record a new single, EP, or album. Alternatively, consider selling samples of your work as digital assets.
4. Sponsorship Deals
Once you’ve established a fanbase, you can start securing music sponsorships from major brands that are looking to capitalize on your audience. Some sponsorships can be incredibly profitable, while others might remunerate you with free products and services.
Resources for Musicians
Not sure where to start with monetizing your music? We’ve put together a list of useful resources to help you on your way:
It’s not as easy for independent musicians as more established artists, but securing a sync licensing deal is entirely possible. There are many platforms out there that allow unsigned artists to upload their tracks for exposure. Consider some of the following:
- Artlist: This marketplace is designed for video content creators looking for music. For musicians, this service is free to use, while artists are free to offer their content elsewhere.
- MusicBed: Geared mainly toward the film production market. This platform does charge a membership, but users also need to consider licensing type implications.
- Music Vine: Another online marketplace that makes it easy for musicians to connect with video content creators. There aren’t subscription costs here, although Music Vine does take a cut of every transaction.
- Songtradr: Marketplace for a wide range of music licensing deals, including TV, films, games, and advertisements. No subscription, but users need to pay a one-time fee. A percentage commission is also applied to every transaction.
- Soundstripe: Another free-to-use platform. Easy to use, although online content creators have to honor exclusivity with any content uploaded.
Performance Rights Organizations
In the United States, there are a handful of rights organizations you’ll want to get to grips with:
- ASCAP: This non-profit rights organization is overseen by industry professionals, including composers, songwriters, and publishers. As of 2023, ASCAP has more than 90,000 members. It’s free to join if you’re a songwriter, while publishers need to pay a one-time fee of $50.
- BMI: Another non-profit and ASCAP’s main competitor. BMI currently represents 1.3 million publishers, composers, and songwriters. Once again, it’s free to join if you’re a songwriter.
- SESAC: This invitation-only performance rights organization has been around for more than 90 years. It’s licensed millions of tracks from some of the most successful musicians on the planet.
Streaming Tools and Services
If you’re using streaming platforms to access royalties, now’s the time to claim your artist profile. Some of the best streaming tools for artists include:
- Amazon Music for Artists: Get instant oversight of key stats if you’re using Amazon Music to monetize your content. Although the data analytics on offer here are pretty standard, you can get useful insights into metrics like how many listeners accessed your content by using a voice assistant.
- Apple Music for Artists: Get insights into metrics like number of streams, audience location, editorial playlist additions, and more. A nifty detail here is that you’ll find out how many times your music has been accessed by music discovery services, like Shazam.
- Spotify for Artists: Arguably the best ‘for artists’ streaming tool. You can submit your music to Spotify curators or seek out valuable connections. You can use this tool as an individual, or set unique access permissions for a wider creative team.
- YouTube for Artists: Worth subscribing to if you’re uploading a lot of video content. You get all the usual data sets as a standard YouTube channel, such as average view duration, audience demographics, and more. You can also access real-time analytics and delve deep into content engagement and revenue generation if you’re enrolled in the YouTube Partner Program.
Grants and Funding
Need a little help getting your career off the ground? In the US, there are several open funds and grants worth investigating:
- Foundation for Contemporary Arts: Established in the 1960s, the FCA has awarded thousands of grants to artists, including emergency grants.
- New Music USA: Aims to inspire creativity across the United States. Funding is available to small groups and independent music projects.
- New York Foundation for the Arts: Open to artists at all stages of their development. Fellowships are relatively modest but can help aspiring musicians on their way.
Your music is your intellectual property. This also means that you have control over copyright, making it one area where independent musicians enjoy significant leverage. As you own the copyright of your music, you can exploit all revenue streams available to you. In theory, you own musical copyright as soon as your song is composed or a track is recorded. However, you’ll be able to safeguard your IP by registering it with the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO).
In the event that you need to file a lawsuit against someone who has used your material without prior consent, you’ll need to be registered with the USCO. While you can register after your music has been misused, processing an application takes months. What’s more, you’ll usually only receive a fraction of the damages that you would have if you’d filed a lawsuit immediately.
If you’re looking to monetize your music via licensing deals, you’ll have to read the fine print when it comes to exclusivity. Some platforms will allow you to market your material elsewhere, while others will be strict about this.
If you’re at a point in your career where you’re looking to sign a recording contract with a label, it might be worth bringing in a music lawyer to help you navigate the process. If you’re going it alone, make sure you’re clear about what you’ll be paid. Many independent musicians jump at the chance of a cash advance, but these advances aren’t always as generous as they first seem. In many cases, advances are offered in lieu of royalty rights.
Even though you’re an independent musician, don’t undersell yourself. Try and argue for a clause that leaves you with a higher share of royalties if you achieve a certain level of sales. This can be negotiated annually. You also need to be wary about signing on the dotted line for a multi-year agreement. Consider the advance that you’re being offered. If you can’t realistically live on this for a year, don’t commit yourself to more than one album. Building in a break clause is also essential. If a company fails to bring your album to market in key territories within a certain timeframe, you need to be able to free yourself from the agreement.
Ready To Start Making Money From Your Music?
Just because you’re not making a living from your music, doesn’t mean it’s not a profitable industry for unsigned artists. However, if you want to start earning your share from music, you need to expand your understanding of the industry. Keep updated with the latest trends, challenges, and new revenue streams that are becoming available to artists. You also need to explore all the possible ways you can monetize your music. This typically starts with identifying all the royalty types you can benefit from. However, branding, networking, and social media can all be leveraged to monetize your content. Social media can be especially lucrative, allowing you to use paid ads, affiliate marketing, and sponsorship to generate additional income.
Before you can profit from your music, you’ll need to consider the legal side of things. Protecting your intellectual property should be a priority. Make sure to have complete control of your tracks by claiming copyright with the USCO as soon as possible. This way, you’re good to go immediately if someone decides to plagiarize your creation. Furthermore, be wary when signing deals with labels and distributors. Unsigned artists are often tempted by the prospect of a cash advance, but these deals typically work against an artist, rather than in their favor. It might feel good to imagine a five-figure sum in your bank account, but this could be sacrificing your entitlement to future royalties. In every respect, you should be thinking about long-term gains, not short-term ones.
An independent musician needs to wear many hats. As well as creating music and developing a brand, unsigned artists need to take charge of marketing campaigns to build an audience. A good marketing campaign not only increases your listeners, but it can also connect you with industry professionals and inch you ever closer to a recording contract.
However, marketing for musicians isn't a particularly easy process. Independent musicians need to invest time and resources into attracting reliable and relevant audiences. They also need to create a steady stream of content that adds value to their music, connect with fans regularly, and build an authentic persona.
Struggling with your promotional campaign? Our guide breaks down what you need to know about marketing for music artists.
Building a Strong Online Presence
Social media platforms can help you nurture a fan base and promote yourself, but you'll need an artist website first. Here, you have complete creative control. You can use your site to create a brand and tell your story. As well as serving as a showcase of your brand and music, you can use your website to monetize your content. As your audience grows, you can explore merchandising opportunities and sell tickets to live shows.
You're probably already using social media platforms. They're a key part of how to market a musician effectively. However, they're pretty much useless if they haven't been optimized. How do you do this? For starters, make sure your profile photos are updated regularly and have been properly sized for social platforms. Next, think about what's included in your bio. This above-the-line field is hard to miss, so use it to highlight current information like release links and tour dates. Finally, make sure the details on your social media channels are regularly updated.
You should also be producing regular content outside of your music. Videos are always a good idea and can work well on any platform. Think about delving deep into your inspirations or the writing process. Alternatively, offer fans an insight into what goes on behind the scenes with candid footage.
Need more music marketing tips? Consider adding a blog to your website. If you're not confident in your own writing abilities, you can always bring in guest posters. Podcasts are another idea. There's plenty of appetite for music blogs, with major recording artists like Alice Cooper and Henry Rollins joining in the action. Don't have time to commit to a regular release schedule? If putting a podcast together seems like hard work, think about guesting on someone else's.
Social Media Promotion
Social media should be at the heart of marketing strategies for musicians. If you're just starting out, don't spread yourself too thin. Consider what each social media platform can do for you.
Are you comfortable in front of the camera? Upload acoustic performances of your signature tracks to YouTube. If your branding is image-heavy, consider using Instagram to your advantage. TikTok can also be useful, especially if you want to leverage the power of influencers. The right short-term video can go viral, with many mainstream artists getting started on TikTok. In 2019, Lil Nas X uploaded a short of 'Old Town Road' to the platform. In 2020, he was picking up two awards at the Grammys.
A good musician marketing plan needs a clear social media strategy. Outline your key objectives. Are you trying to build an audience from scratch? Your focus should be on exposure. Do you want to introduce a growing fanbase to a new EP? Plan your online release date carefully and start generating buzz ahead of time.
Your content slate should be varied, containing everything from image teases to Q&A sessions. Using a social media scheduler will make your life easier, especially if you're taking a hands-on role in content creation.
If you want to use social media well, you need to know how to unlock the power of hashtags. Using them the right way can earn you new fans and help you make the right connections with industry insiders. While some platforms let you add dozens of hashtags to a single post, don't feel like you have to stuff every update with the maximum amount of tags. Mix it up with trending and less popular ones to give yourself the best chance at ranking well. If possible, upgrade your social media profile to a business account so you can see what impact hashtags are having on visibility.
You might not be in a position to collaborate with established musicians, but you can still connect with them via your social channels. Try reaching out to them with a new recording or a cover of one of their tracks. If all goes well, you'll earn a new celebrity follower and attract legions of new fans.
Paid advertising also has its advantages. However, you need to have established your brand and ironed out a social media strategy before exploring paid ads. Even a modest paid advertising budget can attract tens of thousands of additional views to a new video.
Engaging With Your Audience
Email marketing can be an effective tool for unsigned musicians. Use your social channels and website to let fans know how they can join your mailing list. You've then got a direct line to the inboxes of your followers.
Try to engage with your audience every day. If fans are commenting on your uploads and posts, get busy in the comments section and communicate with them. This shows that you're authentic and goes down well with industry executives who like artists who aren't afraid of self-promotion.
Q&A sessions are also a great idea. Keep it simple with Twitter-based exchanges, or set aside some time for a longer live stream. An unscripted and unplanned approach will boost your credibility.
Another way to engage your fans is to offer giveaways. You'll want to up your game in the lead-up to a new single or album drop. You can offer merchandise or free tickets as an incentive. It reaffirms that connection with your audience, but also gives your online presence an instant boost. Looking for more music marketing suggestions? Check out IndieFlow's YouTube channel for more tips on social media and playlist promotions.
Collaborating With Other Musicians and Industry Professionals
Collaboration is a fundamental part of promotion. However, when collaborating with other artists, you need to be authentic in your approach. Make sure there's some crossover with your target audience. You don't want to look like you're simply trying to piggyback on their follower numbers.
You can also reach out to music bloggers and influencers. Here, you can be a little more creative in the way you go about things. Try sending an influencer your latest EP. If they use one of your tracks in a video that goes viral, you can expect a significant upswing in your listeners.
Now's also the time to network. Don't assume great content is going to get you noticed by the right people. You can leverage social media to network online, but you need to be more proactive about things. Connecting with other musicians can help gain you exposure to industry professionals. Be confident and don't be afraid to ask for introductions.
Playing Live Shows and Events
While you can make waves online, you'll eventually need to think about live performance. If you're an unsigned artist without representation, you'll need to take charge of this yourself. However, booking gigs doesn't need to take up too much of your time. IndieFlow's music management tools make booking and promoting gigs simple. You can also send out EPKs to new venues, increasing the odds of standing out from the competition.
Just because you've booked a gig, doesn't mean you're going to play to packed-out audiences. Most venues expect performers to play an active role in promotion. Make sure you're stirring up interest online if you want to play at the same venue again.
Nurture good relationships with promoters and venue owners. If possible, visit the venue before you perform and make an in-person introduction. Once a gig is done and dusted, make a point of thanking venue owners online and tag them at every opportunity.
Increase Exposure With an Effective Marketing Strategy
It's never too early to start thinking about marketing your music. Start by cementing your online presence. Invest in a high-quality website, put together a standout EPK, and optimize all those social media channels. However, make sure you're targeting two or three platforms that work for you. Once you've done this, keep those channels updated with fresh content that goes beyond music.
Engaging your audience is also important. Build up those mailing lists and use email marketing for a direct line to your fans. You should be connecting with your audience daily. Stay active in the comments section or think about more intimate exchanges with Q&A sessions.
Collaboration is also crucial. Connect with other musicians online and make use of influencers. However, be authentic in your approach. Making a shameless grab for followers can easily backfire and damage your credibility. Finally, think about live performances. Online marketing is useful, but you still need to actually perform. Be an active presence on the live circuit and build strong relationships with promoters and venue owners.
An artist manager will know how to market a musician, but unsigned performers can still handle a lot of promotion independently. You might be eager to start recording and releasing content, but a good marketing strategy should be an ongoing endeavor. It takes time and requires effort, but a consistent approach to self-promotion will pay off in the long run.
Music royalties are one of the most common ways to monetize your content. However, securing a steady income from music isn't always straightforward in this industry. For independent artists, royalty payments are crucial for staying afloat as they forge a career.
Provided your material is copyrighted, royalties are paid out whenever your music is played or reproduced. There are four main types of royalties you'll encounter, with mechanical royalties and performance royalties being the most common. However, synchronization royalties are becoming increasingly important in the digital age. Print royalties offer another revenue stream if you're copyrighting sheet music.
Who Receives Royalties?
Every piece of recorded music has two types of copyrights. The first is the sound recording copyright, otherwise known as the master copyright. While this copyright is attached to the recording itself, it doesn’t cover things like music and lyrics.
Then there’s the compositional copyright. This covers elements like lyrics and music, along with any additional content that might be embodied in a particular song.
As such, it’s possible for a piece of music to have multiple copyright owners. In some cases, a single person, or rightsholder, can own both of these copyrights.
Different Types of Music Royalties
If you're an independent musician who's serious about making money, you'll need to get a handle on song royalties. Although mechanical and performance royalties are the most bankable, all royalty types can yield revenues.
Rightsholders earn recording royalties whenever a sound recording is used or digitally reproduced. This can include a recording being sold in physical format, downloaded, or streamed via an on-demand service. In many cases, only record labels themselves benefit from these royalties as they’re the sole rightsholder.
If an artist has financed and distributed their music completely independently, they remain the sole rightsholder. In these scenarios, artists themselves are then in a position to collect recording royalties.
Even if an artist is tied to a distributor or record label, they can still generate revenue from recording side royalties. Non-featured performers can also earn a cut. However, this only applies if the terms have been agreed to.
Mechanical royalties can be traced back to the earliest days of the recording industry. Back then, mechanical royalties were paid out whenever a copy of a song was made. Nowadays, the industry doesn't rely on mechanical reproduction like it, but mechanical royalties are still around.
In the current era, streaming services are the root of most mechanical royalties. Whenever a song is streamed directly by a listener on Spotify or downloaded via Apple Music, a mechanical royalty payment is made.
In the case of Spotify, the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) collects these royalties. In the United States, these mechanical royalties are then paid out to publishers. However, elsewhere in the world, mechanical royalties from streaming may be distributed to both publishers and songwriters alike.
Royalty rates are pretty paltry. For every 100 streams, artists can expect to receive around $0.06. These rates aren't going to pay the bills if you're just starting out. However, once the number of streams crosses the million mark, those mechanical royalties can start to stack up.
Collective management organizations (CMOs) and mechanical rights organizations (MROs) recoup royalty payments in the United States, distributing them back to artists and publishers. Blanket licenses with service providers like Deezer and Spotify typically cover streaming royalty.
If your song is merely replayed rather than reproduced, this is classed as a performance. Your track might be getting some radio airtime or being covered at a live music event. It can also apply to when a song is played on a streaming radio service like Apple Music. In this case, you'll recoup both mechanical and performance royalties.
However, you don't start earning performance royalties automatically. To start making money, you'll need to first register with a performance rights organization (PRO). If you're partnered with a publishing company, performance royalties will be split between songwriter and publishing royalties.
Copyrighted music is constantly used in video games, TV shows, and movies. However, content creators can't use your recordings for free. Every time your music is synched to other content, you can earn synchronization royalties.
Most of the time, these royalties are a one-off payment. However, if a top-tier brand is looking to use your music for a commercial campaign, these royalties can prove incredibly lucrative to rightsholders.
In recent years, the concept of micro-synchronization royalties has become more common. When music is synchronized to content on social platforms like YouTube and Instagram, you can potentially receive both mechanical and performance royalties.
When it comes to sheet music, a different kind of royalty is called for. Print royalties are usually distributed between publishers and songwriters. In order to profit from these, you'll need to actually release your material as sheet music first.
Most of the time, musicians never get around to this. Instead, they focus on performance and mechanical royalty payments. Admittedly, print royalties aren't going to make you a fortune. If someone wants to learn how to play one of your songs, they're more likely to stream it or follow a tutorial video. While print royalty revenues are minor, they're still worth exploring if you're a composer.
How Does Music Royalties Work in the Download and Streaming Era?
The rise in streaming services has made it simpler for artists to reach global audiences. However, this makes the matter of royalties far more complex. Although revenue from downloads and streaming technically falls into the mechanical category, things aren't as simple as they are with physical sales.
Every stream generates performance and mechanical royalties. Performance royalties vary between PROs and streaming services. A significant number of streams is needed for an artist to make money. To receive just $1, a song needs to be streamed 78 times on TIDAL. With Apple Music, you're looking at around 125 streams. Meanwhile, on Deezer, a song needs to be streamed more than 900 times to recoup the same amount in royalties.
Many factors come into play when determining royalties from streaming. Let's take Spotify as an example. How many premium users are paying for the service at any time is one factor. Revenue from in-app advertisements is another one. Furthermore, as pricing tiers vary between countries, the location of the listener also comes into play.
Mechanical royalties from downloads are easier to determine. In the United States, a flat rate of $0.091 is paid out every time a recording is downloaded.
Copyright Law and Royalties
Royalties are built on the concept of copyright. Original music is a valuable asset. As such, it needs to be copyrighted if you intend to make a profit from it. Copyrighting your music not only protects your intellectual property but also grants you exclusive rights to your work. Unless someone has a paid-for license to use your music, they'll be breaching copyright law if they do.
Copyrighting your content is one of the easiest ways to start earning as a music creator. As the holder of copyright music, you're entitled to royalty payments every time your songs are performed live, broadcast over digital radio, or played in public.
When's the best time to assert copyright? There's no one-size-fits-all answer here. Some creators choose to copyright their content as soon as they've written down lyrics. Others wait until music has been composed and a recording has been produced. The U.S. Copyright Office makes it fairly easy to protect your content. However, filing fees do apply. While making an application is straightforward, it can take more than six months to complete the process.
Once you've secured the copyright of your songs, you can start making some real money. You're now free to reap the rewards from streaming platforms. You can also now enlist a PRO to take charge of collecting performance royalties for you.
Music Publishers and Collection Societies
To receive all those royalty payments, you'll need to work with various organizations. Mechanical royalties from physical sales are generally passed on to music publishers from record labels. This is after a cut has been set aside for retailers. Mechanical royalties for streaming and downloads are a little different. This is where the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) comes into play.
Launched in 2021 to simplify streaming royalties, platforms pay for a blanket license with the MLC. It's then down to the MLC to dispense royalties to music publishers and songwriters.
PROs take charge of collecting performance royalties. As already mentioned, you can only start collecting these once you're registered with a PRO. In the US, two of the biggest PROs in the business are ASCAP and BMI. There's also SESAC, although you can't simply opt in to this organization. Instead, SESAC tends to only approach established artists.
Tips for Music Creators on Maximizing Royalties
If you want to start making money from your work, it's never too early to partner with a PRO or CMO. Once you're registered with one of these organizations, you'll be added to the Interested Parties Information (IPI) database, allowing you to profit from international royalty sources.
As an independent artist, it's easy to put a premium on exposure. However, you shouldn't undervalue your work at the negotiating table. To ensure you're safeguarding future revenue streams and royalties, protect your publishing rights as much as possible. Ideally, you'll want to retain a 50% share. It's also important to outline who owns what. To make life easier, use a music management platform like IndieFlow to take care of everything from publishing admin to handling royalty splits.
Master Music Royalties To Maximize Your Revenues
Every musician and artist manager needs to understand how music royalties work. The music industry has changed considerably in the past 10 years. Streaming services have redefined how artists can engage audiences, but this has significantly impacted royalties.
To optimize profits, you need to have a solid understanding of the different types of music royalties. For most artists, mechanical and performance royalties will yield the biggest revenues. However, to do this, you'll need to copyright your content and sign up with a performance rights or collective management organization.
Once your music has been recorded, copyright your content as quickly as possible. Online filing fees are negligible, but it's not the quickest of processes. Securing an IP number is also vital if you want to unlock global royalty streams. Independent artists are unlikely to make a fortune from downloads and streaming. However, some platforms are more profitable than others.
To ensure everyone's getting their fair cut, it's best to use an all-in-one music management platform. This way, you can be confident that you're collecting royalty payments from all the right places. Furthermore, managing royalty splits is made simple.
Meet Kooma, the Finnish-born producer and songwriter behind a unique, design-oriented signature sound featuring elements of lo-fi, atmospheric guitars, and echoing percussions.
In this video, Kooma invites us into his sun-soaked town of Fuengirola, Spain, to spend a day in his life and learn about his creative process. Drawing inspiration from his father's CD collection and artists like EDEN, Flume, and JOY., Kooma's music resembles that of Øfdream and Arbour. His latest dual single, "Timelapse", is a tribute to Linkin Park's unique sound and 20th anniversary of their iconic album Meteora. The beats are now available on all major streaming platforms, so go check them out! Kooma - Timelapse: https://open.spotify.com/album/63MvuT...
Hey there IndieFlowers!
We’ve got some exciting news to share with you today. After months of hard work and testing, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of our brand new distribution service! This is a game-changer for independent artists who want to distribute their music without all the usual headaches and time-consuming hassle.
So what are the improvements we’ve made to our distribution process?
We’ve streamlined the workflow to make it more intuitive and user-friendly and as a result, we’ve cut the workflow time in half! That means you can get your music out to more platforms faster than ever before.
In addition, we added a smart validation tool to make sure everything runs smoothly during distribution. If there's a problem or missing information, you will be notified immediately. The smart validation tool will also tell you what the problem is and how to fix it. This way, we can make the distribution process more efficient and accurate.
We’ve also added 20 new digital streaming platforms to our service, including YouTube and SoundCloud, but It doesn't end there! Keep reading to learn more about IndieFlow’s new distribution features.
Faster, Smarter, More Intuitive
We have improved the existing workflow to make it more intuitive and efficient. In the process, we rearranged the flow steps, introduced greater clarity by separating between release-level and track-level data, and removed redundant fields.
As a result, our distribution process has demonstrated a remarkable improvement, with up to 50% faster performance based on before-and-after tests.
Our distribution process now includes a smart validation tool that ensures users can confirm the success of their actions at each step. In case of any errors or missing information, users will receive timely notifications to ensure a smooth and error-free distribution process.
We now offer artists the option to include song lyrics along with their music, which allows for increased engagement and connection with listeners. The lyrics will automatically populate on Apple Music for easy access by listeners.
We've expanded our genre options by adding over 60 genres and subgenres, making it easier for artists to accurately categorize and promote their music to the right audience. This includes many regional genres and subgenres that were previously categorized under "world music". We're creating space for more diverse cultures to shine through in our platform.
Distribution to New Streaming Platforms
We've added 20 new platforms to our distribution service, including YouTube, Beatport, Soundcloud, and Audiomack, providing more opportunities for artists to reach their target audiences.
Our new features join a long list of features we have released over the last six months, such as:
Register with a PRO (Publishing Rights Organization) and collect your publishing royalties on top of streaming revenues. You can also add your collaborators to ensure everyone gets paid accordingly.
Promote your music through a series of single releases or EPs, each leading up to the release of an album containing all the previously released tracks. It’s a great way to build excitement and keep fans engaged.
Getting your music to your audience should be easy and hassle-free. That's why we offer a seamless and foolproof music distribution process to help you succeed. Don't let this opportunity pass you by! Sign up for our trusted and reliable distribution service today, and take a confident step towards unlocking new opportunities for success in your music career. We're here to support you every step of the way!
Long gone are the days when publishers and record labels held all the cards. Independent artists still face an uphill battle when it comes to getting their music heard, but artist development is an effective way of building a brand and establishing a successful career in the industry. In fact, IndieFlow recently launched its own artist development program in March 2023, offering aspiring musicians guidance on everything from building their image and finding their sound, to playlist pitching, strategic release management and connecting them to monetization opportunities in the realms of sync/licensing and brand partnerships.
An artist development plan is a multi-faceted process, covering everything from building an image and brand, to songwriting, voice training, performance coaching, and more. This step-by-step approach might seem counterintuitive to creativity, but it's the best way of turning musical talent into a profitable business.
Ready to learn how artist development can help you? Below, we'll explore the key pillars of the process and you can put them into practice.
The Purpose of Artist Development
Many artists who are just starting out need help to cultivate their brand and refine their abilities as a performer. Artist development targets all areas that an individual needs to work on to forge a successful career in the music industry.
Now that record labels don't hold the same sway that they used to, artist management services are becoming the preferred choice for many independent musicians. They can help aspiring musicians find their sound and create a unique persona. For more experienced performers, artist management sharpens skills that are lacking, while also offering insights into networking opportunities and marketing. In short, artist management allows singers, songwriters, and musicians to become the best possible version of themselves.
The Different Aspects of Artist Development
One of the most crucial elements of an artist development program is music education. Simply put, having a good ear for a great tune isn't enough. Getting to grips with music theory is always a good idea. It'll let you recognize key musical elements like scales, harmony, and melody. It's also invaluable for anyone looking to pursue a career as a songwriter.
Some musicians are self-taught, while others can refine a rudimentary understanding of musical instruments with online tutorials. However, if you're looking to succeed in this industry, you'll want to invest in professional study and coaching.
Even if you're a solo performer, you need to remember that the music industry is a collaborative ecosystem. The fact that you write and perform your own material and can accompany yourself on the acoustic guitar, doesn't mean you won't need to work with other people down the line. Making the right connections is critical if you want to do well in this industry. Thankfully, artist development services provide clear guidance on how to make the right moves when it comes to networking.
If you've committed to a step-by-step artist development plan, simply writing and performing consistently can bring new opportunities your way. However, you need to be proactive about things. Live gigs and local events will bring you exposure, while also introducing you to other musicians and industry insiders. If networking opportunities are limited in your part of the world, you can turn to the online sphere. Start with virtual networking events for singers and songwriters to forge relationships that can be nurtured in the future.
Effective branding allows artists to create a strong identity and artist persona that's unique to them. It also helps set them apart in a competitive industry. More importantly, it's vital for connecting with audiences. For independent artists, brand development makes it easy to find and engage with audiences. However, for independent musicians in the early stages of their careers, branding takes real effort.
Authenticity is key there. For independents, a strong story is often just as important as great music. However, you'll need to be credible if you want to attract the right fans. What's more, you need to stay true to the image you create as you continue in your career.
Consider your USPs. What's unique to you and what sets you apart from other artists? More importantly, why should this matter to audiences? You can take inspiration from similar performers you're influenced by but don't feel boxed in by your contemporaries. You also need to think about genre. Each musical genre has its distinct trends and tropes. You may feel like you're compromising yourself by adapting your brand image to fit these, but it's necessary to have an understanding of them.
Understanding the finer points of music theory is all well and good, but being able to put this into practice is a different matter entirely. Writing a killer song is no guarantee that you'll be able to work a crowd into a frenzy or set the streaming world alight. This is where performance coaching comes into play.
A performance coach instills musicians with confidence, giving them honest feedback about what's working, while singling out areas that need attention. It's incredibly valuable for inexperienced artists who, beyond audience feedback, often don't have a real idea of how well they're doing.
A coach can introduce musicians to pre-performance routines, helping them deliver confident sets. They can also help musicians master stage movement and advise on song arrangements. Need help making more of a connection with your audience? A performance coach can teach you ways to build rapport with a crowd in between songs while pushing your delivery to its peak as you work through a setlist.
The Benefits of Investing in Artist Development
What is an artist development plan going to include? One of your main priorities should be fine-tuning your skills. A comprehensive plan will imprint good habits and ensure musicians are committing to regular practice. Unless there's something truly unique about your artist persona, your performance skills need to be in tip-top shape.
Rather than focus on a single skill, such as your vocal ability, artist development makes it easy to polish other abilities like songwriting. As well as honing your vocal technique, artist development will introduce you to instruments. This is all-important for solo performers who need to accompany themselves during live performances.
A solid artist development program will take the hassle out of gaining exposure. You can identify lucrative channels that can be exploited as you build an audience. What's more, you can turn to other artists' audiences for a quick exposure boost. Social media channels are one of the best ways to get yourself noticed. Many high-profile acts like Shawn Mendes, Halsey, and Calvin Harris all found fame after being discovered on social media.
Even if you think you're using these platforms effectively, your channels probably need to be optimized. You'll need to rethink how you're using tags to ensure your content is getting good coverage. What's more, artist development encourages you to keep at it. It's not as simple as uploading a new song and putting out a single post to market it.
You'll need to promote the same track many times to see any real gains. If something is taking a while to gain traction, think about repurposing it into new content. Scheduling tools are useful for ensuring you've always got a steady stream of content ready to be deployed.
Tapping into other audiences is another great way of increasing exposure. An artist development program will actively encourage collaboration, allowing you to cross-promote with other emerging performers.
You might be focused on realizing your artistic vision and bringing your music to the masses, but you'll ultimately need to make money if performing is going to prove a viable career path. In the past, musicians who handcuffed themselves to artist development deals typically signed over a significant chunk of their income for the privilege.
While these deals are initially quite valuable for artists, they eventually feel the sting when labels and publishers continue to pocket high royalty shares and exclusive rights to intellectual material.
An artist development plan will introduce you to all possible revenue streams that you can realistically capitalize on. Today, the majority of musicians make most of their money from digital performance royalties thanks to the rise in download sales and streaming services. For independent musicians, there are many different revenue streams to exploit.
As well as streaming royalties, there's revenue from merchandising, sync deals, crowdfunding, and more. An artist development program allows you to focus on the revenue streams that are most important to you. This might not always be the most profitable, but will always steer your career in the right direction.
Real-Life Examples and Case Studies
Global superstars like Lady Gaga might seem like they arrived fully formed on the world stage. Back in 2007, Gaga signed a development deal with Island Def Jam but was dropped from the label within a few months. Nonetheless, this award-winning self-starter took artist development into her own hands.
She threw herself head-first into live performance, forming one half of Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue where she pioneered her signature electro-pop sound. Getting a feel for what audiences actually wanted, she spent two years putting together her debut album, releasing The Fame in 2007. This same year, she established the Haus of Gaga, a creative team that would help define her ever-evolving persona. By 2011, she was named Top Artist at the Billboard Music Awards.
Tips and Resources for Investing in Artist Development
Interested in seeing how an artist development program can help you? There are many different options out there. Some artists choose to sign up with an artist development agency, offering programs that cover everything from developing basic skills and branding to outlining record release schedules.
However, many aspiring artists might not be ready to commit to a long-term plan. Mentorship programs offer a better alternative. You'll benefit from the expertise of a more experienced performer, offering you insights on how to plug the gaps in your knowledge. Crucially, you'll also get honest feedback from someone who's walked the path you're just starting on.
Ultimately, you need to consider what your objectives are before you settle on an artist development plan. Are you still struggling to find your sound or having trouble establishing a distinct artist persona? You'll want artist development services that will educate and nurture you. If you're more confident about your position in the industry and the trajectory you want to take, look for a partner that can help you with marketing and networking.
Advance Your Career With an Artist Development Plan
Artist development is an essential process that provides aspiring musicians with all the skills they need to secure a lucrative future in the music industry. It can provide much-needed musical education, from basic music theory to instrumental lessons for solo performers. What's more, performance coaching makes it easier to connect with live audiences.
An artist development program will also aid with networking. The music industry is a collaborative environment and artist management services ensure no musician is isolated from other creatives.
The best artists have distinct identities. However, most inspiring acts have yet to create a persona that sets them apart from the rest. An artist development plan makes it easy for musicians to create an authentic brand that's true to them.
There are many reasons to invest in an artist development program. Improved skills make for a better, more credible performer. Furthermore, the process can help unsigned artists access new audiences, increasing exposure via social media channels and cross-promotional endeavors.
Ready to take charge of your career? Now's the time to choose artist development services that can shape you into the recording star of tomorrow.
Music production is a broad term, covering everything from that initial spark of an idea, right through the entire writing, recording, and post-production process. Even if you've experimented with recording and mixing techniques before, music production for beginners can prove overwhelming. Thankfully, our music production guide is on hand to provide you with all the insights you need to get started.
We'll explore the production process, from composition and recording to the mixdown and mastering. You'll also find an introduction to the core elements of music production, including sound design and mixing and mastering techniques. Need help finding online resources or putting together a recording studio setup? Our guide breaks down everything you need to know.
The Music Production Process
The music production process kicks off with the composition. This is where general ideas are formulated and include things like creating rhythmic and melodic concepts. Once your ideas begin to take shape, you can think more seriously about defining genre and style.
At this point, you should focus on establishing elements like tempo and key. You can pick out key instruments to serve as placeholders but don't overthink it. You can get more involved in this during the sound design stage.
You'll need to create a basic beat to serve as the backbone for your harmonic and melodic ideas. You can also experiment with variations of things like melody, bassline, and chord progression.
Now's also the time to start thinking about lyrics. You need to consider the bigger picture, with an eye on structure. The most important aspects are the bridge and chorus, but intros, outros, and verses shouldn't be overlooked.
Music Production for Dummies: Recording
At the moment, your song still exists as little more than an idea. Now you can start focusing on actually recording your music. Some artists may decide to kick things off with a general recording session, capturing a live performance. However, for best results, tracking is the way to go.
In most cases, drums are recorded first. This is then followed by the bass. The lead instruments that make up the melody of a song are then recorded. However, it's worth remembering that there's no one-size-fits-all approach here.
The tracking stage can be incredibly time-consuming, but it's a worthwhile investment. Tracks are far easier to finesse during the editing stage if they've been individually recorded.
No music production beginners guide would be complete without a mention of mixing. Once you've got your recordings, you can start mixing them to bring shape to individual tracks. Mixing also brings balance to a composition.
You'll want to ensure your lead vocals can be heard clearly over key instruments. Meanwhile, equalizer tools can be used to accentuate certain elements and de-emphasize others.
You can also get creative during the mixing process. Practical effects like reverb can give the impression that individual sound elements were recorded in the same place. Panning can also prove effective. Positioning vocals and instruments across the stereo field will give your production a real sense of depth.
Now we move onto the final stage of production. This is when you create the final, polished piece. Sometimes, mixing and mastering overlap, but the key objective should be to amplify the volume of your track and make it suitable for a wide range of speakers.
Compression tools will come in handy here, making it easier to balance out volumes. A limiter, a specific type of compressor, also forms part of the mastering process. It increases the loudness of your final track, without creating any notable distortion. Once you've finished mastering your track, it's ready to be uploaded to streaming services and distribution platforms.
Essential Music Production Equipment
Understanding how to produce music for beginners is only half the battle. Without the right equipment at your disposal, you can't expect to produce superior-sounding recordings. Below, we've outlined some of the most crucial gear you'll need to invest in.
Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) serve as the beating heart of music production for beginners. This essential software lets you record tracks and play around with arrangements. Furthermore, you can use DAWs to experiment with mixing levels and apply effects.
There are plenty of affordable DAWs on the market, with some offering more advanced features than others. However, most of them follow the same workflow, with a grid window making it easy to arrange tracks and apply desired effects to specific channels.
Not all sounds are generated by recording the output of a live musical instrument. Sometimes, you'll want to generate artificial sounds with a synthesizer. A synthesizer creates sound electronically, but can also be used to modify existing sounds.
All synthesizers fall into one of two categories: analog or digital. Analog synths use modulators and circuitry to produce sounds, while the latter type produces sounds digitally and is generally more user-friendly. There's a good chance that your DAW of choice will feature digital synth functionality.
If you plan on adding vocals to your track, you'll need a microphone. Dynamic microphones are the best option if you want to capture focused sounds at high volume. This makes them ideal for live performances.
However, for recording purposes, a condenser microphone is a better fit. Condenser microphones are designed with studio use in mind, capturing softer sounds and hushed tones with exceptional levels of clarity.
Other Essential Equipment and Accessories
Quality headphones are a must-have for any recording session. You'll need them when you're playing around with tracks in your DAW or experimenting with mixing techniques. Although they offer less noise isolation, open-back headphones deliver superior sound quality, making them great for tracking. Choose closed-back headphones for better isolation when missing.
However, don't assume you can rely solely on headphones when producing music. The best recording studios also rely on speakers. It's always a good idea to play back a recording via speakers if you want a clearer idea of what your music actually sounds when it's played back in everyday environments.
Furthermore, don't forget about the basics. You'll need jacks for connecting things like synthesizers and guitars. Meanwhile, XLR connectors are called for when transmitting balanced signals during recording. You'll also need enough MIDI cables to connect drum machines, keyboards, and sequencers to your computer. Finally, there's no such thing as having too many USB cables to hand.
Key Elements of Music Production
If you want to create original tracks and compelling content, you need to think seriously about sound design. Creating a distinct sound can be challenging, especially if you're heavily influenced by other artists. However, it's crucial that you set yourself apart if you want to emerge as an instantly recognizable artist.
If you're a complete beginner in music production, you need to accept that finding your sound is a learning process. Get creative with presets and parameters and add automation. Constantly review your recordings to see what's working and what's falling flat. Sometimes, even the most lackluster of recordings will inspire you.
[Image - music equipment or live recording session - a man holding a mic, playing the drums, etc.]
Corrective EQ is a common mixing technique you'll want to get your head around. In short, corrective EQ gets rid of unwanted frequencies. However, be careful when reducing frequencies. If your track has a rich bass, you can be fairly liberal. That being said, you should avoid removing too much at this stage.
Additive EQ is sometimes used to add missing frequencies to a track. Use your best judgment here and consider the sound palette you're trying to build. Target the low midrange (250 to 500 Hz) if you want to add warmth to elements like vocals.
If your recording has a higher dynamic range, you'll probably need to implement compression during the mixdown. Compression basically smooths out a recording, making the shift between the loudest and quietest parts of your track less pronounced.
Working on an album or EP? Make sure you're reviewing all tracks. Although each song needs to have its own identity, there needs to be clear synergy between them. Listen to short snippets to identify which sounds are standing and which tracks have been mixed more expertly.
This way, you'll be able to prioritize those tracks which need more work to bring them in line with the rest of your release. A typical commercial track has a lot of individual elements. However, the vocal is often the most important. As such, you'll want to focus on this during the mastering stage.
Make sure you're asking the same core questions when reviewing each track. Are there any missing frequencies? Likewise, are any frequencies sticking out like a sore thumb? Is the track loud enough? Consider playing around with volume before you turn to equalizers during the mastering stage.
Finally, when mastering a collection of songs, ensure that levels are consistent across the entire tracklist. Making minor adjustments to levels takes time, but it's something you don't want to rush.
Music Production Techniques
MIDI sequencing is a staple of modern music production. Rather than recording actual musical sounds, MIDI recording allows artists to create tracks without physical instruments. It also reduces the amount of external audio that needs to be captured. Most electronic hardware and keyboards are compatible with MIDI recording.
Audio recording is the tried and tested way to produce music. To record sounds from electronic instruments like keyboards and synthesizers, you'll need an audio interface to connect them to your DAW. For recording vocals and acoustic instruments, you'll need to hook up microphones to your DAW.
Sampling is an increasingly popular music production technique. It involves taking snippets of pre-existing audio and repurposing them. You can use DAWs, sampler plugins, or hardware samplers to do this. Samples can include everything from an existing melody or vocals. These samples are generally heavily manipulated before being incorporated into a new track.
Tips and Tricks for Beginners
If you want to turn a hobby into a well-honed craft, you'll need to first get your house in order. Make sure you've got all the recording equipment you'll need ready to go. You'll also need to create a dedicated recording area. This can be as simple as building a recording studio in a spare room.
Next, you'll want to get to grips with basic music theory. At a minimum, you'll need to understand things like scales and chords. If you're an independent musician going it alone, you'll also need to educate yourself on the fundamentals of songwriting.
[Image illustrating someone learning on a computer, watching a YouTube video, etc.]
Where to Find Useful Resources
The online world has plenty of valuable resources for budding songwriters and music producers. Turn to YouTube for tutorials on how to get the most out of your DAW or in-depth guides on mixing and mastering.
Alternatively, you can turn to internet forums for advice from experts. Future Producers is home to a huge online community offering insights into everything from music theory to sampling and digging. Struggling with software? Turn to KVR Audio for answers about audio plugin hosts and software applications.
How to Improve Your Skills
One of the best ways to improve your skills is to listen to more music. Avoid firing up the same playlist every day and embrace new artists and unfamiliar genres. You might be encouraged to bring new flavors to your existing compositions.
Constructive criticism is also incredibly valuable. Never be afraid of listening to feedback. After all, you need a realistic idea of how audiences are going to respond to your music.
Feeling uninspired? Maybe you're struggling to nail down a melody. Perhaps you're having trouble with chord progression. Now's the time to think about collaborating with other artists.
Master Music Production and Start Distributing Your Tracks Today
The music production process can often seem inaccessible to the beginner, but it's easier than you think. Once you've wrapped your head around composition, recording, mixing, and mastering, it's relatively simple to turn a grain of an idea into a finished track.
However, you need to spend some time educating yourself. Being able to comprehend basic music theory will go a long way in shaping your songwriting and composition. Furthermore, a deep understanding of sound design will allow you to deploy advanced mixing and mastering techniques.
Of course, you'll also need quality equipment and software. A full-featured DAW, microphones, and headphones are the bare minimum. However, it's also worth investing in studio speakers for the best results.
Producing music independently is a learning curve. However, patience pays off. Once your tracks are polished and ready to go, you can start distributing them with an all-in-one music management platform like IndieFlow.
Digital music distribution has revolutionized the world of music promotion. Although vinyl has made a comeback in recent years, digital has been outpacing physical sales since 2014. However, the principles of music distribution remain the same. It's a vital process for musicians that gets their content in the ears of the consumer.
Today, this typically involves musicians partnering with music distribution companies. A music aggregator then submits content on behalf of an artist to streaming platforms or online stores. It's an affordable way for independent artists to extend their outreach, getting their music onto as many platforms as possible. What's more, it makes collecting royalties simple.
Ready to have your music heard across the globe? Read on for everything you need to know about music distribution.
Types of Music Distribution Channels
Emerging artists have a few major music distribution channels available to them. While streaming is the most obvious choice, both online stores and physical sales are worth considering.
Streaming has changed the music landscape. In 2022, streaming accounted for 84% of total revenues in the music industry. Although artists can't upload their content directly to music distribution channels like Amazon Music and Spotify, they can use distributors like IndieFlow to do this. As well as ensuring content is uploaded to these channels, a distributor is responsible for delivering all royalties to relevant rights-holders.
Streaming offers an inexpensive and flexible approach to distribution. It allows artists to decide when they want their content to drop, allowing them to fine-tune music marketing campaigns around this. Streaming can also generate useful data, letting artists know where their music is being played, making it easy to build a clear picture of the listening audience.
However, getting music promoted on editorial playlists can be difficult for less-established artists. While they're accessible, the average platform is incredibly competitive. It can be tricky to cut through the noise if you're putting out music in an oversaturated genre. Furthermore, it can take a long time to see any return on investment. While streaming payouts per platform vary, even the most generous returns aren't going to make you rich overnight. That being said, you do benefit from a continual source of income.
Streaming platforms aren't the only way to distribute your music digitally. Offering your tracks via online music stores is another way to broaden your reach and capitalize on new revenue streams. As with streaming platforms, you'll need to partner with music distribution companies to sell your tracks digitally.
Musicians tend to make more money from digital stores than they do with streaming. However, some are far more popular than others. You'll face stiff competition if you're selling your music via the iTunes Store or Amazon Music, but consumers do tend to purchase from platforms they trust.
Online stores have several major drawbacks. Many sell music in compressed file formats, while others use formats that don't allow for metadata to be embedded. If a listener stumbles upon one of your tracks by chance and pays to download it, there's less incentive for them to seek out more of your content if this extra data is missing.
It's never too early to start thinking about releasing your music physically. While you have to consider manufacturing costs, there remains a market for physical formats. CDs are still in circulation. In 2022, more than 33 million units were sold in the US alone. However, this is a marked drop in sales when compared to 2021.
However, other formats are thriving. Soaring vinyl sales show no sign of slowing down. Even the cassette is seeing something of a renaissance, with major acts like Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga releasing entire albums on tape.
Ultimately, you'll need to weigh up the cost and benefits of releasing your music physically. While it's a good idea to invest in hard copies of an EP to sell at live gigs, you don't want to sink your life savings into vinyl printing of an untested album.
Choosing the Best Distribution Channels for Your Music
Inexperienced artists often struggle to pick the right music distribution channels for their music. To increase the odds of your recordings getting heard, consider your audience. Are you catering to a niche market made up of older listeners? Such audiences are more likely to engage with your music if it's being offered as a download, rather than stream-only audio.
If you're planning on embracing a do-it-yourself approach to music marketing, a streaming channel is a better fit. You'll be able to use direct-to-fan marketing and social media channels to drum up interest before your tracks go live.
Step-by-Step Guide to Music Distribution on Popular Platforms
Ready to get your music heard? Distributing your music on streaming platforms is fairly straightforward. We've outlined the basic steps for some of the biggest platforms below:
Spotify is the go-to streaming service for more than 134 million subscribers worldwide. To use Spotify as an artist, you'll first need to find a distributor. Once you've selected one, you'll need to upload your music. High-resolution audio files are the standard here, so opt for something like lossless WAV.
You'll also need to provide metadata. This goes beyond the basics like the artist name and track title. Make sure you're including extra information relating to genre, additional writing credits, and track numbers. It's also worth adding copyright information.
Finally, make sure you provide artwork that can be uploaded along with your music. If you've yet to cut a complete album or EP, you might not have artwork at the ready. Instead, use a high-resolution promo image of you or your band.
Aiming to have your music live by a certain date? To ensure those release schedules aren't compromised, you'll want to deliver your content and all required metadata with plenty of time to spare.
Apple Music falls short of Spotify's subscriber count by 66 million, but still has a huge pool of potential listeners. The good news is that Apple makes quick work of music marketing. You'll want to claim your Apple Music for Artists so you can promote your latest single, engage with your audience, and customize your artist page. However, before you can do this, you'll need to select a distributor and have tracks live on Apple Music.
As with other channels, you'll need to be using an Apple-preferred distributor. Once you've chosen one, you'll be able to send singles or albums for upload. Along with tracks, make sure you include any associated covert art. You'll also need to include the names of any contributors who may have worked on your tracks to ensure they're credited and can receive royalty splits.
Amazon Music is often overlooked in favor of other streaming platforms. However, with more than 55 million subscribers and perks for Prime members, it's becoming increasingly popular with audiophiles.
As with other platforms, you'll need to settle on a distributor. Once that's done, you're ready to upload your single, EP, or album. Along with your tracks, ensure you have that artwork and metadata ready to go. Finally, be sure to include any contributors so they can receive their share of royalties.
Looking for a music distributor you can count on? IndieFlow can distribute your music to major streaming channels and stores including Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, and many more.
Music Distribution Strategies
Getting your music uploaded to digital service providers is only one piece of the puzzle. To get your music heard and enjoy significant exposure, you need to consider music distribution strategies.
Direct-to-fan marketing is an effective promotional strategy that every independent artist should be using. It's all about creating a high-value connection with followers that can help establish emerging artists as someone with real credibility and who cares deeply about their fans.
It's an expensive approach, requiring little more than the occasional live stream. If there's an established audience there already, subscription models and paywalled content can also be used.
For those in the early stage of their career, there's plenty of time to take advantage of the direct-to-fan marketing model. Artists can cultivate rich relationships with fans if their audience base is small. This not only informs the artist's brand but also takes care of a lot of the promotional work as the musician becomes more popular. English singer YUNGBLUD was an early adopter of direct-to-fan marketing and continues to engage with fans via social media and platforms like YouTube.
Many streaming platforms offer playlist promotion. For up-and-coming artists, this can significantly increase exposure. Spotify is one platform that offers playlist promotion, or playlisting. With more than 100 million songs, it can be almost impossible to make waves if you're starting with a limited tracklist. Thankfully, playlisting lets less established musicians get their time in the spotlight.
Playlist promotion connects your content with playlist curators. Artists can select moods, genres, and existing playlists that apply to their music before songs are sent out to playlist curators for consideration. A successful campaign can boost your monthly listeners and streams while increasing the odds of you landing a spot on one of Spotify's editorial playlists.
More than 50 million people now claim to be influencers, with the majority of them active on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. As of 2023, more than 37 million influencers are active on Instagram alone. Artists can capitalize on this growing sector to help market their music and expand their audience.
Influencer marketing is about collaborating with people who already have large online followings. Once you've struck a deal with an influencer, you can piggyback on their audience to introduce your music to legions of potential fans.
Big brands like Motorola and Adidas have been using influencers for years. However, it's not just electronics and sportswear that influencers enforce. Recently, musicians have been waking up to the potential of influencer marketing.
Before you buddy up with one, take a moment to consider if you're choosing the right person to attach to your brand. Firstly, follower numbers aren't everything. It's a useful metric to go by, but A-list influencers are going to be out of your price range. A lower-level influencer is not only going to be more affordable, but far more likely to put in the hours when it comes to promoting your music.
Next, make sure that there's synergy between you and the influencer. It's great that a vintage fashion influencer wants to engage with you, but you'd be better off chasing a partnership with someone with a passion for indie music. Whoever you settle on, be prepared to step back and let them do their thing. Influencers walk a fine line between credibility and inauthenticity, so don't attempt to micromanage one.
Need convincing that influencer music marketing can work? In 2019, TikTok star Brent Rivera used the track Dance Monkey by Australian artist Tones and I in one of his videos. This increased exposure for the song quickly, catapulting Tones and I to the top of the Australian Singles Chart. By the end of 2020, the song had become the third-most streamed track on Spotify.
Common Mistakes To Avoid When Distributing Music
Don't assume that physical distribution is dead. In 2022, physical revenues stood at $1.7 billion, which was 4% higher than in 2021. Booming vinyl sales are the main driving factor here. Pressing vinyl isn't cheap. You can pay upwards of $3,000 to have 100 copies produced. However, if you're gradually building an audience and there's a real appetite for hard copies of your work, you should be thinking about offering it.
Next, think about file formats. Back in the file-sharing era, MP3 was king. However, MP3s don't cut it when it comes to streaming. High-resolution WAV files are the preferred format for most streaming platforms.
Are you holding back because your content isn't quite there yet? Worried that your songwriting isn't as sharp as it could be? Rather than sit around and wait for your creative muse to awaken, turn to your existing demos and half-developed material. Think about uploading those rough cuts to YouTube to get a feel of what the average listener has to say.
Another misconception people have about distribution is that the revenues will start rolling in as soon as your music is uploaded. While uploading your music to digital distribution services is a crucial step toward success, it's not going to make you a fortune. In fact, most artists will barely be able to cover the incidentals with streaming revenues.
Finally, avoid the pitfall of not making your music discoverable. Just because your tracks have been uploaded, doesn't mean they're going to be easy to find. Make sure all that metadata has been delivered to your distribution partner. Key tags include things like release year and date, album titles, collaborators, and genre.
Start Distributing Your Music Today
If you've spent time cultivating your sound and developing as an artist, there's no point waiting around. Now's the time to start thinking seriously about music distribution. First, you'll need to decide on what distribution channels you want to target. Just about every artist will want to distribute on streaming services, but digital online stores can also prove lucrative. Even physical sales are something to think about.
Do these channels fit with your music? Is your target audience likely to engage with stream-only services? Answering these questions will ensure you're not wasting time and energy. You're now ready to choose a preferred distribution partner that can upload your music to platforms of your choice. Along with high-resolution audio files, you'll need a full set of metadata and album art ready to go.
You can increase the odds of success by implementing effective music distribution strategies. Direct-to-fan marketing has worked for many major stars, while playlist promotion has the potential to get your music into the ears of millions of listeners. Influencer marketing can also be worthwhile if you can find someone who's a natural fit with your brand.
Ready to tap into worldwide audiences? Find your music distribution partner today and take your music career to the next level.
Royalty management used to be a fairly straightforward business. In the past, royalty management payments could be tracked manually, ensuring intellectual property rights were protected. The music industry of today is a fragmented one, with a shift to online making the business of royalties even more complicated.
However, it’s never been more important for independent musicians and artist managers to protect their creative assets and revenue streams. This is where royalty management contracts come into play. What is a royalty management contract? Essentially, it’s an agreement between the owner of intellectual property and a licensor.
But how does a company management royalty contract? Different companies approach royalty management with a variety of practices, although most have shifted away from manual methods. Nowadays, royalty management software is the way forward. It frees up artists and managers from tedious tasks, allowing them to refocus their efforts elsewhere.
In this article, we’ll explore the drawbacks of manual royalties collection and how embracing royalty management software can streamline the process.
Challenges of Manual Royalty Management
Even with the best practices, manual royalty management is fraught with issues. It's an incredibly time-consuming process. Keeping track of all those royalty statements and payment deadlines is resource-intensive. Even a minor delay can result in major backlogs, leading to missed payments and revenue bottlenecks.
As with any manual process, there's also scope for human error. If you're relying on multiple input sources and sprawling spreadsheets, the risk of error is even higher. Just a single wrong digit or misplaced decimal point can skew reporting.
Some people are resistant to automation. However, an optimized process is always a better one. Rather than putting a human who knows how to manage royalties out of a job, the best royalty management software can free up man-hours. This allows musicians to focus on creating new music and artist managers to nurture the talent they're looking after.
Benefits of Royalty Management Software
In the digital age, music royalty management software is the only way to go. It streamlines reporting, providing musicians with complete transparency about revenue streams and commercial performance.
The best royalties management software also simplifies payment processing. By supporting integrated payments, royalties are managed more quickly, eliminating the chance of outstanding revenues. What's more, management software supports payments in multiple currencies.
Standardized data processing is a staple of good royalty management software. This naturally results in improved levels of accuracy and error-free reporting.
Features of Royalty Management Software
Royalty management software makes it easy to track incoming royalties from multiple sources. What's more, with in-depth analytics and advanced reporting, you can access detailed royalty breakdowns and performance metrics.
You can also count on secure payment processing. This not only safeguards your revenues but eliminates the chance of fraud. This is vital for establishing trust with third parties.
Great software also needs to be user-friendly. An accessible interface isn't just simple to use, it makes the entire process of collecting royalties more transparent for all involved. Struggling with royalty splits? Royalties management software should be flexible, allowing you to assign royalty splits to individual assets.
If you're looking to monetize recording assets, IndieFlow is an ideal choice. IndieFlow’s Royalty Management feature makes it easy to register with royalty collection societies and start receiving payments. What’s more, this all-in-one music management platform lets you take control of creative projects and distribute content.
Manual Royalty Management vs Software Solutions
There's no place for manual royalty management in today's music industry. Having to contend with multiple licenses and royalty agreements with multiple platforms can prove confusing. Independent musicians and artist managers might not be caught up on the latest changes to royalty rates. This is even more of an issue if you're dealing with many different streaming platforms and licensing agreements.
When you use software, you can rest assured that the royalties you receive are reflective of the latest changes to payout models. Ultimately, software is the only reliable way of keeping track of all revenues you're owed.
Choosing the Right Royalty Management Software
Looking to simplify royalties management? When selecting your software, consider what's most important to you. Some of the key questions to ask when choosing royalty management software include:
- Does the software allow you to manage complex contracts and agreements?
- Does it simplify different revenue streams and royalty types?
- How much of the process does the software automate?
- Are they any useful analytics tools included that let you see where your income is coming from?
- Does the software include a royalty splits feature to ensure everyone’s getting their fair share?
Finally, take the time to experiment with software. Some solutions might be too basic for your needs, while others may be charging you a premium for advanced features you'll never need. However, it's always worth thinking about the future. A flexible and scalable solution is always worth considering.
Simplify Your Royalty Management Today
Many independent musicians rely on royalties to stay afloat. However, keeping track of what's owed and by who can be a tall order. In the past, manual royalty management might have worked for independent artists. However, in an age of downloads, streaming, and synchronization rights, this is no longer the case.
Any artist serious about monetizing their music needs to embrace many different licensing agreements and income streams. Royalty management software might lack the human touch, but it also removes the chance of human error. As well as ensuring everyone is receiving a fair cut, royalties management software brings added analytics that can be used to track commercial performance.
Unsure about how to manage royalties? Looking to simplify payment processing and access invaluable analytics? It's time to think seriously about royalty management software. Use IndieFlow to lighten your music management workload, whether you're tracking data and distributing to streaming platforms, or looking to collect payments and outstanding royalties.