Before I get started, I will begin by saying I have absolutely nothing against SoundCloud or any artist that chooses to use it as their primary source for putting out music. However, this post is not directed to the artists who are aware of the paid platforms but opt to release their music for free. This post is for artists that want to get their music on paid platforms such as Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer but are unaware of how to do so.
A lot of musicians think you need management or a label to get your music on these platforms, but that is not true. As long as you own the rights to the song (in other words you bought the beat exclusive and have the rights to sell your track) you can use what's called a music aggregator. A music aggregator is a website or essentially the middle-man that distributes your music on your behalf to the digital stores and streaming platforms. They typically charge a small fee for uploading your music as well as collect a percentage of revenue earned from the digital downloads and streams. The one I use is Catapult and it's extremely easy to use and reasonable in pricing. You simply make an account, upload your song along with your cover art, select how you want to get paid, they collect 9% of total revenues (as opposed to others that collect a much higher %) and the remainder gets directly deposited to you every two months. Other aggregators include Ditto, Tunecore, CD Baby, ReverbNation, and AWAL to name a few. I personally have enjoyed Catapult's services and the amount of platforms it gets your music on as well as the advanced reporting tools they provide to better understand your top revenue channels and where your most engaged audiences are coming from. They also provide link tracking and embed codes so you can easily integrate onto your website and make it easier for audiences to download/stream your music.
To be completely upfront, do not expect to get rich off streams, at least not in the beginning. You only make .04 to .08 cents on average per stream and roughly 64 cents per digital download. It's going to take a while to build your numbers. But hey keep at it because 10,000 streams turns into $800, and 100,000 streams equates to $8,000/month. So eventually it will pay off, but until then, you're at least positioning yourself as a professional artist to A&Rs, music editors, the media, and your fans. So really it's a win-win at this point. And if you have a huge fan base on SoundCloud already then you may be at an advantage once you migrate to the paid channels because your loyal fans will more than likely migrate with you (if you stop releasing music for free and only make it available on the paid platforms).
Things to Consider Before Selecting an Aggregator
- what platforms are most important for you to be on?
- did you compare and contrast fees & percentage rates?
- make sure you get to keep the rights to the publishing
- look at advanced features they offer - Nielson SoundScan, data reports, easy-to-integrate web features
- how often do they pay out? and do they provide a breakdown?
So there you have it, take control of your music distribution and start stacking up those streams ASAP. And if you've already done so, what aggregator do you or have you used in the past? What platforms have been the most successful for you? Comment below and share your thoughts.
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