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DistroKid - Make Sure Your Music Reaches Your Fans and You Get Paid for It

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I ran across an artist who uses this service to ensure that their music gets heard by as many people as possible by making sure it's available on all the streaming services, etc. It's affordable (20USD per year for unlimited albums) and also ensures you get paid for when your music is used/licensed: https://distrokid.com/

We'll get your music into Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon, Google Play, Tidal, iHeartRadio, YouTube, Deezer and 150+ other stores & streaming services.

  • Keep 100% of your royalties, get paid monthly.
  • In stores 10-20x faster than any other distributor, at a fraction of the price.
  • Pay only $19.99 to upload unlimited albums & songs for a year (our competitors charge at least 2x that just to upload one album).
  • Keep all your earnings—or set up "splits" to automatically route any percentage of earnings, from any track, to anyone.
  • Bonus features! Distribute cover songs legally · Get paid when other people use your music in YouTube · Unlimited backups · Instant Spotify verified checkmark · Manage your Apple Music page · Get your credits & lyrics into stores · Get a YouTube Official Artist Channel · Spotify pre-save · So much more...

Thought this might be of interest/useful for budding musicians here or established ones who don't want the headache of doing all this yourself.

 

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I ran across an artist who uses this service to ensure that their music gets heard by as many people as possible by making sure it's available on all the streaming services, etc. It's affordable (20USD per year for unlimited albums) and also ensures you get paid for when your music is used/licensed: https://distrokid.com/
Thought this might be of interest/useful for budding musicians here or established ones who don't want the headache of doing all this yourself.
 
It is a useful, affordable platform while youre living on planet earth, but once you depart this life, if no one covers the $20 a year, they pull your entire legacy of music creation offline from all platforms. That is unless you pay a legacy fee at $50 per song, which is outrageous.

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Just now, lucivalc said:

It is a useful, affordable platform while youre living on planet earth, but once you depart this life, if no one covers the $20 a year, they pull your entire legacy of music creation offline from all platforms. That is unless you pay a legacy fee at $50 per song, which is outrageous.

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Uh, okay - but if you're dead, does it really matter what happens to your music at that point (unless you want your family to continue to get royalties)?

Plus, couldn't you just set up a repeating payment to them, and then leave directions in your will and testament on how this should be maintained?

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Uh, okay - but if you're dead, does it really matter what happens to your music at that point (unless you want your family to continue to get royalties)?
Plus, couldn't you just set up a repeating payment to them, and then leave directions in your will and testament on how this should be maintained?
If you're an obscure artist, and your music is only on your harddrives at home and on the platforms via distrokid, if there happens to be an untimely death, then the music could ultimately end up on the harddrives at home. It's really not about royalties it's about the music having the grounds to be heard after it can't be monetarily maintained due to unforeseen circumstances.

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If you're an obscure artist, and your music is only on your harddrives at home and on the platforms via distrokid, if there happens to be an untimely death, then the music could ultimately end up on the harddrives at home. It's really not about royalties it's about the music having the grounds to be heard after it can't be monetarily maintained due to unforeseen circumstances.

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it's still a good service, Joyrex. Not trying to shit over it. It's just something I've had to think about personally, because I had a real scare a couple years ago and I'm not at the age where having a will is a thing. My life`s work is my music, and it is a scary thing to not have the music published for good somehwere, and I'm still looking.

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I'd had this service in the back of my mind as something to look in to now that I'm recording more again and working on a new album after a couple years of dealing with real life stuff and just doing random tracks, but that thing about then pulling your tracks for nonpayment (which I never heard about before) is a bit of an ethical dilemma for sure. I thought the service was basically a way to automate the submission process across a bunch of different services, not a something where they effectively control your presence on those services. Still has some potential but I don't like that business model at all, it feels kind of like a combination of the subscription model for software and the old "pay to play" grift.

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I'd had this service in the back of my mind as something to look in to now that I'm recording more again and working on a new album after a couple years of dealing with real life stuff and just doing random tracks, but that thing about then pulling your tracks for nonpayment (which I never heard about before) is a bit of an ethical dilemma for sure. I thought the service was basically a way to automate the submission process across a bunch of different services, not a something where they effectively control your presence on those services. Still has some potential but I don't like that business model at all, it feels kind of like a combination of the subscription model for software and the old "pay to play" grift.
Been looking into a platform called Orphic. It seems like a SoundCloud but without a good catalog yet, but they have HQ uploads and they put it on all the platforms. Their catch is that you get 80% and they get 20% of any royalties that might happen.

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@lucivalc I have thought about what would happen to my music if I get hit by a bus or something too.

The conclusion I reached is... it's quite literally out of my control.

I can put my stuff on youtube, soundcloud, bandcamp, bittorrents whatever, but none of these services really have an obligation to keep it forever. They pay for the servers and bandwidth so it has to be worthwhile for them, or really anyone who distributes my music.

I figured that the best I personally can do is make music that matters to people so that they keep a copy and listen and share. This is the most authentic thing too, because then it means your stuff was good enough to outlive you. Sure, I can buy some hosting and distribution and keep it going a couple of years after I throw in the towel, but after that it's like in nature - things rot, they disappear, new things are built out of pieces of the old.

If I am lucky, people like my stuff and they play it, labels re-release and promote it. If not, then I end up forgotten like all the other unknown musicians that got lost in history and some future digital archaeologist may find my name in a Discogs database list or something.

All this is just temporary anyway - ichigo ichie. ?

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[mention=22476]lucivalc[/mention] I have thought about what would happen to my music if I get hit by a bus or something too.
The conclusion I reached is... it's quite literally out of my control.
I can put my stuff on youtube, soundcloud, bandcamp, bittorrents whatever, but none of these services really have an obligation to keep it forever. They pay for the servers and bandwidth so it has to be worthwhile for them, or really anyone who distributes my music.
I figured that the best I personally can do is make music that matters to people so that they keep a copy and listen and share. This is the most authentic thing too, because then it means your stuff was good enough to outlive you. Sure, I can buy some hosting and distribution and keep it going a couple of years after I throw in the towel, but after that it's like in nature - things rot, they disappear, new things are built out of pieces of the old.
If I am lucky, people like my stuff and they play it, labels re-release and promote it. If not, then I end up forgotten like all the other unknown musicians that got lost in history and some future digital archaeologist may find my name in a Discogs database list or something.
All this is just temporary anyway - ichigo ichie.
I agree with what you're saying. it's all temporary and out of control to a degree. I just cant imagine rolling in the grave that if I relied on distrokid to keep my music afloat and they pull it all down within 365 days because I couldnt pay the bill. And yeah all the platforms they are paid to post to could all go down at some point, I wasnt even trying to be that dramatic. Just look at MySpace regarding that, they lost all the music from the last 16 years on their site. All gone. Vinyl, CDs, and tape.. also yeah if listeners keep the music alive by listening to it that would be amazing.

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i was partnered with The Orchard which used to be called IODA. I got it for free because i got in really early. I put all the buried in time releases up there. it was efficient and simple to do. they autofilled ISRC codes and would sell me a barcode for each release for $10 or something. releases went into all the streaming services and download shops. I did this for years w/all buried in time releases. 

average royalty for streaming services for all 29 (at the time) releases combines was around $10 a month. hardly worth it if i didn't have the sweet free deal from being an early adopter. 

last year i ended the agreement. had all the releases removed from all the services that The Orchard partnered with and i turned over control of the releases to the individual artists. I had artist pages for all of them in bandcamp set up under the label umbrella which i handed over to the artists as well. i did this for several reasons. 

so, streaming services really don't pay anything. it's basically a gift of convenience to listeners. some of who do buy the releases from bandcamp or wherever and do support the artists but then use spotify for listening.

i think the streaming services could be a great but they just don't pay anyone unless the artist has an exclusive deal w/the service.. like taylor swift or beyonce.  seriously it's a joke a scam. all the money pretty much goes to the top and people down stream from these mega artist don't get much.  

it really is just a gift to listeners.  it's a worse system than major label scenario of yesteryear.  spotify only cares about share holders. artists are a commodity. 

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Agreeing with @ignatius here. For me streaming stuff is just a way for getting my music to listeners in a way they are used to (instead of sending dropbox links). For any real financial return, I think either making it big (haha yeah right) or playing live and selling merch is the only way.

 

Still the distrokid thing is interesting and I will probably look into it soon. I am just wondering what happens to my existing youtube, soundcloud, mixcloud, bandcamp pages.. will they be taken over or can I still micro manage them? Should check the FAQ probably...

Edited by thawkins

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Here's an interesting article about Bandcamp that's, I think, relevant to this conversation (FYI @thawkins Distrokid does NOT interface w/ Bandcamp, so you wouldn't have to worry about that). Below quote kind of sums up how I feel about it in general (particularly division of potential audiences/reasons for each service):

Inherent in the levelling of the playing field for artists is challenging the status quo of the streaming giants. “As much as Spotify’s model is not what I would choose for personal and political reasons, I think of it more as radio. It plays the same role as radio always did, and I think Bandcamp and solutions like them as being more akin to indie record stores and merchandise tables. Hopefully, in a healthy economy, there will be lots of viable ways to do this,” Skolnik elaborates. “The worry is when it becomes one, a monopolising system.”

Hanratty agrees that you “might just end up with two audiences - the audience who want to own music and be involved, and your audience who are happy with the convenience of streaming platforms.”

 

Edited by T3551ER
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50 minutes ago, thawkins said:

Agreeing with @ignatius here. For me streaming stuff is just a way for getting my music to listeners in a way they are used to (instead of sending dropbox links). For any real financial return, I think either making it big (haha yeah right) or playing live and selling merch is the only way.

 

Still the distrokid thing is interesting and I will probably look into it soon. I am just wondering what happens to my existing youtube, soundcloud, mixcloud, bandcamp pages.. will they be taken over or can I still micro manage them? Should check the FAQ probably...

bandcamp isn't partners w/any of those services afaik. but i got copyright takedowns from youtube because the Orchard claimed copyright on my own releases that i uploaded. so i had to go through that process of disputing it and making sure none of the things i uploaded were not monetized. even though the Orchard was claiming copyright infringement on my stuff on my behalf. 

financial return wasn't my primary motivator for ending the relationship. it was part of it.. but mainly it felt exploitive and i just couldn't support it as I found the business model really one sided and didn't want to participate anymore.. not that i had any thoughts of making a bunch of money from streaming. it just seemed like bullshit. i'd rather have 50 people who are into the tunes buy my releases from bandcamp than have my stuff spewing out on spotify as part of some "music to shill out to and study" playlist or whatever. I can upload a few tracks to youtube for people to stream if they want.. and anyone who buys the release from bandcamp can stream via the bandcamp app. so, there are opportunities for people to access the music in different places. spotify can eat a dick. 

edit: i agree that spotify is like radio but w/playlists.. though it pays less than radio. if you got a million plays in a month on radio you actually got compensated. 

Edited by ignatius

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Thanks Joyrex this is cool.

I hate what spotify did

I hate what napster did

But

A good way to let people hear your craft in this dystopian age.

 

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This is a fascinating and great discussion, everyone - which is exactly why I posted it here. It's great to hear from people that make music and how streaming and services like this have changed the way they make music (for better or worse).

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The radio analogy is a good one, with the difference of course being that it's global and unregulated.  I'm not entirely clear on whether payola on streaming services is actually illegal or not, since AFAIK they don't fall under FCC jurisdiction (and I have even less idea how that's regulated internationally).

 

Services like DistroKid don't quite fit smoothly into that analogy though, they're more like a combination between a vanity press and one of those talent farms like Faces where people pay to have their head shot and contact info listed in a directory but aren't actually given any kind of individualized service or promotion.

 

Honestly, if I had the money to travel I'd just have like 100 cassettes made with no contact info on them at all, and then go around as many major cities as I could sneaking them onto the shelves at used record stores John Fahey style - it seems like there's a higher chance of the music getting heard and maybe even preserved doing something like that than there is just throwing it into the streaming void like a fart in a hurricane.

 

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18 hours ago, qualitycontrol said:

I hate what napster did

I was studying sound design and composition in college at the same time that Shawn Fanning was developing Napster in the CS department half a block away.  By the time I graduated the independent side of the music business was already falling apart.

 

A couple years later I was working at one of the surviving old-school used record shops in the area and got asked to contract with a successful (at the time industry-leading, although you wouldn't know the name because their engine was licensed to other companies like Sony and Ericsson that they developed custom implementations for) startup that was developing music recommendation engines.  The team was about 20 record collectors working under contract using their accumulated knowledge to manually build the back-end databases that the software used, because the actual machine learning approach didn't work at all (the reason we were industry leaders is that we used real people behind the scenes and the engine only used automatically collected data to tweak the manually weighted stuff a bit so that everyone's recommendations were slightly different depending on a few simple metrics - our competitors at the time relied entirely on machine learning so their recommendations were garbage and most of them folded after a couple years).  Then the founder sold the company, got rich and the rest of us were dropped a few months later with nothing but 5 or 6 years of experience that was too specific to that company to be transferable).  In retrospect it was like being an auto worker in the 1970s and being required to assemble and install the robots that ended up replacing you.

 

The up side was that it gave me the flexibility to spend a lot of time playing music with other people and really being involved in the vibrant music scene that mostly disappeared after all of the underground musicians and venues that supported them were priced out of the cities after the 2008 crash, and everyone just started streaming stuff instead of going to shows so instead of any small show with unknown bands being guaranteed at least 100-200 people for any local show on a weeknight without promotion, within a couple years you were lucky to get 30 people in a room. EDIT: this wasn't only shows I played or anythin, so it wasn't just my music getting worse.

 

So yeah, I'm maybe a little cynical about music streaming.

Edited by TubularCorporation
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Streaming services exploit musicians and do nothing to help them. If they were to help the artist's success like Bandcamp does, then that would be another story.

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^ Exactly.

But I'd say that is because they have no need whatsoever to *not* exploit musicians. There are hundreds of thousands of people who make music and who want people to listen to them. The fact that Distrokid has a business is proof of that.

Of course there are some (maybe a thousand or so? dunno) artists whose music absolutely needs to be on a streaming platform for it to be viable. Those are the major artists that do in fact make a little money on Spotify, Apple Music and the other platforms.

For every other artist the platform is providing them with a service. And since there are only a few streaming platforms providing this service versus hundreds of thousands of musicians requiring it, it is very much a sellers' market.

Don't like it? Tough luck. The - very, very brief - time period where musicians could make money by selling recorded music is over. We're now back to how it's always been: you need to perform.

Edited by rhmilo
typo

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Agreeing with all the above posts with regard to streaming being exploitative for most musicians. This is probably deliberate on the part of the big companies profiting from this - let's have the musicians drive down their own prices and if something is really good, they can always sign them and boost. Not sure if there is anything to do because the technology for setting up a pro studio is literally a pair of $200 headphones and a $500 laptop.

However coming from a listener perspective, here's some things I have thought about:

  • I like discovering new music on Soundcloud, occasionally Bandcamp. Soundcloud is nice because it allows a sort of "shuffle all my favorites" mode where I just hit play and I hear new music that I maybe like. Something like this also exists on Youtube, Spotify, Apple music etc. by virtue of playlists and stations. The key part for me here is that there is a common platform where all this music is stored and accessible in a fun/entertaining way.
    Why streaming fills this niche for me is that it allows me to go through hours of new music every day. I do not have money to buy all of it, I do not have hard drive space to store all of it, so without streaming I would lose this "personalised radio station".
  • Having your stuff on a platform that regular people use helps to share it. For all their problems, Spotify/Apple do have a lot of users. If your stuff is on there, and you can share direct links to it, this means that the blackout drunk fan who really seemed to like your set and who added you on their Spotify app, now will get to listen to your stuff. Maybe they will even buy an album thanks to that.
    Soundcloud, Bandcamp links are also good because then I can plug that artist into my personal library.
  • Having music I really like in a long-term format (vinyl, cd, tape, hard drive) is important to me. Software and computers and all that crap is temporary as services go down, companies go bankrupt. I don't really trust any of the big companies to stick around or keep their service without major changes more than 5 years. So I am consciously trying to buy or "acquire" the music I really do care a lot about so that I have a personal copy. Streaming sucks for this - the quality is 128kbps and the rights holders might pull the music at any moment. Also sometimes I want to listen to stuff without being on the internet.

Now I am wondering if it would be possible to set up a streaming platform for just one label or a group of labels, manage subscriptions by Patreon or something and keep all the money... 

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I agree with everything THawkins said except for point 1 because I actually don't like streaming services as a listener, either, but I recognize that I'm probably in the minority here.

It's really only been 5 or 6 years since just about every little coffee shop in town was playing music that was chosen by whoever was working that day and actually reflected the tastes and personality of the people working that day.

Now they all play Spotify playlists, even some of the record stores do it.  Before streaming took over, even the places that didn't care would probably throw on a college radio station or something . It's a small thing but for people like us who might actually notice it's like the Disneyfication of one more little part of day to day life.  A bit melodramatic maybe, but am I wrong?

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It is a kind of commodification of music, that's true.

For instance a couple of years ago I could not imagine that I could wake up in the morning and put on smooth jazz or chillhop or whatever, and youtube would just cycle me through different really good and relaxing tunes for hours. This feeling used to be a surprise treasure trove, but now some recommendations algorithms can pull it off sometimes (OK, the youtube ones do get kind of repetitive after a while and things start to repeat, but still).

It's like you think of a general style you want and then find the playlist, station, from the service you are familiar with. I even used to listen to SomaFM drone zone and their other stations - they were around way before Spotify.

In the end if the music is good, it's good no matter if it comes from a curated Spotify list or the barista put it on themselves. It's more likely that if they really wanted to play their own playlists then this makes it even more special to be a listener.. but the economic truth seems to be that everyone's working harder than ever for their meager paycheck and you just do not get that sort of attention to background music. ?

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To me it's less about commodification (because let's face it, music has been commodified at least since the sheet music industry boom of the late 1800s), it's more about people offloading their decisionmaking to algorithms that essentially form a big feedback loop that keeps people from actually discovering anything. The more you listen the more the algorithm optimizes what it feeds you to be things that are familiar and unchallenging (so that you just leave them going in the background, because it doesn't matter to the business model if you're actually listening as long as you keep streaming) and then just continues optimizing what it recommends based on what it already recommended.

 

Anyway I'm at work so I have to stop complaining but I could go on about this for a lot longer.

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On 12/12/2019 at 3:18 PM, TubularCorporation said:

To me it's less about commodification (because let's face it, music has been commodified at least since the sheet music industry boom of the late 1800s), it's more about people offloading their decisionmaking to algorithms that essentially form a big feedback loop that keeps people from actually discovering anything. The more you listen the more the algorithm optimizes what it feeds you to be things that are familiar and unchallenging (so that you just leave them going in the background, because it doesn't matter to the business model if you're actually listening as long as you keep streaming) and then just continues optimizing what it recommends based on what it already recommended.

Filter bubbles suck. People should filter most cookies and ignore general algorithm based streaming and never feedback and comercial product buys. It enriches their brains.

But what's to ask of people that are just occupied with work work work all day and have no other chance than just to shift these experiences to the background noise layer.

As a fellow friend of mine said. The first ones who notice society collapsing are always the artist.

Edited by Psychotronic

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