The dictionary defines accessibility as ‘the quality of being able to be reached or entered’, ‘easy to obtain or use’, ‘being easily understood or appreciated’. Even though this is a generic definition, it screams Internet — that magic place at our fingertips that let’s us do so many ‘real-world’ things just by clicking or tapping. Where am I going with this?
Everything online is made to allow as many people as possible to access, almost obstacle free. You want to get your music to as many people as possible too. So, Internet + Music = Easy Access to Music+ Amplified Reach.
But seriously, how do you do that? How to publish music online?
Doing It Yourself
You’re an independent artist, just finished recording your album, and it’s now time to release your single and unroll the promotion script. You want your music to be on Spotify, iTunes, etc, but you don’t have a label, so you’re not exactly sure where to start. Relax, there’s a way.
Dealing with online distribution platforms — it’s important to note you cannot deal with each online distribution platform directly. To do that you would have to meet their tight requirements, like, for example, having 20 albums on your catalog and you would also need to have ISRC for all tracks and UCPs or EAN codes for any products (i.e. album) you intend to distribute.
Track and product codes — You won’t need these if you work with an aggregator or a label, but it is important to understand what they are.
ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) — it enables recording to be uniquely and permanently identified.
UPC (Universal Product Code) or EAN (European Article Number) — unique code used to identify a product, such as an album, single or ringtone.
3. Aggregators — The easiest way to get your music on all top stores and streaming services is by using an aggregator. These are services that distribute your music in a large number of digital platforms in exchange for a small fee. Some of the main benefits are
Choosing The Right Aggregator
There are several aspects to consider when choosing an aggregator:
Number of stores / platforms they work with
Fees — it can be a monthly or yearly fee, or it can be charged per song or album. Make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for. Aggregator fees usually vary between 15% and 20%.
Royalty payments — look at payment method (bank or PayPal) and payment frequency (weekly, monthly, etc). Some aggregators pay your royalties weekly, as long as your balance is at least $25, for example. Note that you are deducted the aggregator’s and the store’s commission from your total revenue. If your total revenue is $100 and your aggregator’s fee is 15% and the store gets 5%, you will only receive $80 in the end.
Retaining your songs rights — rule of thumb, the songwriter and composers retain the rights to their songs. However, make sure this is observed by the aggregator you choose.
Extra services (i.e. promotion) — some aggregators, like TuneCore offer additional services like publishing administration for songwriters, audience engagement, promotion and others. This can be something to weigh in your decision.
And there are many you can choose from. It all depends on where you want to go and what you want to do. With that said the most reputable ones are TuneCore and CD Baby.
They have considerable experience and a vast distribution network that can get your music in front of your audience.
This article from Mastrng.com gives you a detailed view into other options for aggregators and can be a great starting point. Just make sure to consider all alternatives and choose the best for you and your goals. It’s not that easy to change your music from a service to another, and some aggregators even charge a fee for it.
So, get as much information as possible before making a decision, and let your music be heard!