The Independent Musician - The Three Best Ways to Release Your Music Without A Label
Part 1 of the Independent Musician series
The music industry is in a perpetual state of flux. Each decade of its history can be summarized by a major change it saw. From the 1920s and the advent of the record label and electrical recording, to the 1950s and the notion of the "album" as a concept, and the 1980s with the birth of the modern music video on MTV. Of our two decades in the 21st century, we have experienced (among other changes,) one key shift of the music business, but it has been massive, and we continue to ride the wave of this change: the Internet. From this was birthed a massive blow to physical music, the advent of piracy, and the birth of the streaming service.
This change marked a shift in the power dynamic of the music business.
No longer was the business on top, it was the music. Gone are the days of needing to appeal to a label's interest in order to garner success. One could produce their music exactly as they want it, and release it to the masses themselves, or with the help of their own team, and they stand to potentially make more money from it. These options are no longer hidden away behind contracts and external parties.
Below we've collected three of the key options for the musician of today to get their music out into the world. In the next part of this series, we'll cover the important ways to get that music into the ears of the listeners you're interested in.
1. Platform distribution sites
This is perhaps the most common option, and among the best. With websites such as Tunecore, CDBaby, and Distrokid, its easier than ever to get your music on the important platforms of today such as iTunes and Spotify.
Most work on a system of a flat fee, uploading your music to the platforms of your choice for a single cost. At the time of writing, these annual fees are sitting in the range of $20 to $50 CAD. Most will then forward your streaming royalties directly into your account, which you can then transfer via PayPal to your pocket.
2. Direct distribution
A preferred option primarily in the hip-hop community, direct distribution allows you to get your music online immediately and directly, for no cost. This includes uploading to sites such as Bandcamp and SoundCloud. The downside to this option is that in hand with paying no fees, you receive no royalties per play, although both of these sites offer premium options.
The benefit to these sites is that it is a direct communication from artist to audience. You can interface with your audience directly, uploading your music able to be accessed, played, and downloaded immediately. This can work to be the platform to get you the most plays, but like all other options, it requires deliberate and effective marketing.
3. Hiring a team
Another highly effective option is to find an industry member to collaborate with and find the best option, or a combination thereof. Working with a music / artist manager has many benefits for a musician, (such as those listed in our post https://www.populusmusic.ca/blog/why-do-i-need-an-artist-manager) and among those are having a business partner to manage and maintain your online distribution models.
No one option might be the perfect fit for how you want to get your music heard. Maybe paid distribution isn't quite your thing, but neither are the free options, so maybe the premium options on the free sites are for you. Maybe you want to go against the grain all together and copy your music on cassette and hand it out locally. The music business is massive, and there are countless options, but we hope you've found some insight from the three we highlighted from above.
An important reminder! Bloom's newest single Dead End drops Thursday of this week, on all major platforms as well as on Bandcamp. Be sure to stay tuned on Bloom's Instagram to catch the release!