Getting your music on Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, and other digital music streaming services is a straightforward process. Put simply, you submit your music to a music distribution company. They deliver your music to streaming services. The streaming services pay the distribution company each time your music is streamed or downloaded. The distribution company pays you.
Choosing a music distribution company
The first thing to do is select a music distribution company. Deciding which one to use may seem daunting at first but you should be fine with whichever one you choose provided you pick the one that best suits your needs. For example, are you going to sell music only or do you also wish to sell t-shirts, stickers, and CDs? Do you mind sharing streaming and download proceeds or would you rather just pay a flat fee? Knowing answers to questions like these will help narrow down your selection.
Once you have chosen a distribution partner you will upload your music to their website and they will make your songs available for streaming. Most will distribute your music to streaming services like Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, and iTunes while others will make them available on their own proprietary streaming platforms. Some will also allow listeners to download music or buy CDs, t-shirts and other merchandise.
At the top of this page we mention getting paid for streams. There is actually a lot to learn about this so we recommend that you read this article to learn the differences between mechanical and performance royalties.
What happens now that your music is uploaded to a distribution company and available on a streaming service? In most cases, very little. You may get a stream or a download here and there but without proper promotion (or incredible luck) your music will likely get lost in a catalog of millions of songs. In other words, when it comes to getting heard, tried and true promotional techniques still hold true even in the digital age.
Promoting your music
Live shows: Play live as often as you can. Hand out cards and other promotional items at every show that encourage people to find your music on the web. Some distribution services provide coupon codes for discounted downloads of your music. Give those out like crazy! Build a fanbase. Don’t waste a show. Always be promoting. And although some say CDs are going the way of the Dodo bird they can still be a great way to make money from your craft. Plus, some radio stations still prefer CD submissions.
Social media: Get your social presence in order. Choose the platforms that are right for you and start cultivating your audience. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, this list goes on. You do not need to be on all of them but certainly be on some.
Newsletters: Do not underestimate the power of an email list. There are lots and lots of people who do not participate in social media but they still love music and are absolutely reachable via email. Services like MailChimp and Aweber can help you here.
Video: Put a video on YouTube. If you do not have a well produced video a lyric video may be the next best thing. Not a lot of production value is expected from a lyric video so it’s a great way to get your music out there.
Playlists: Playlists are super important and something you should definitely look into. Most of the streaming services offer them and these lists can quickly rack up lots of streams. For example, Spotify offers a playlist called New Music Mondays that airs every 1st and 3rd Monday of the month. They also have The Indie Hit List and Fresh Hip Hop and others that are designed to help new music get heard.
Press: Getting press is one of the best ways to get attention. Look for bloggers, webzines and publications who write about music and send them your electronic press kit (EPK). Our list of music blogs will point you in the right direction. Be sure to look for their submission guidelines first.
College Radio: College radio stations are constantly on the lookout for new music and most accept submissions directly from the artist. University of Southern California’s KXSC station has detailed music submission instructions right on their website as do most of the college radio stations around the world. The North American College & Community Chart (NACC) keeps track of what is currently playing on over 200 college campuses across North America.