Distribution companies have made life for independent artists and musicians a little easier by taking care of the draining parts of music distribution for you. Thanks to these various services that have arisen over the past decade, the process for getting your music onto streaming platforms is very simple and accessible. I’ve researched and laid out brief steps to help you navigate these sites.
Step 1: Choose Your Distribution Company
In a previously published How To entitled “How To: Pick the Right Distribution Company,” I laid out some pros and cons of the most common distribution companies. Based on all the data, pick the company that caters best to you and your project.
Step 2: Create Your Free Account
To sign up you’ll need to put in basic info like your name, email and create a password.
Don’t take this step lightly — use an email that you actually check, and a password you actually remember because you’ll be using your distro site to check the stats from your project(s) even after you’ve completed the uploading and publishing steps.
Step 3: Verify Your Account
Check your email for a verification link and click the link to complete the signup process.
Step 4: Create a Single or Album
Different distro companies have different options but the most common options for what you can distribute are a single, an album or a cover of an already existing song. Click on the option that best suits the description of the project you’re dropping.
Once you’ve picked what type of content you are distributing, you then have to fill in basic info about the project. This info includes:
-Song title(s) (name of song)
-Main artist (main artist on the song)
-Featured artist (if any)
-What language the lyrics are in
-The primary genre of the music (hip-hop, r&b, etc.)
-The date you want your project to drop (I suggest you start the uploading process about two weeks before you want your project to drop because most sites take a few weeks to process)
-If the project’s been previously released or not (if it has, click yes, if not, click no)
-Label name (you can create your own as most people do, for ex: Real Boiis Ent.)
Once this information is complete, it will prompt you to upload the cover artwork for your project. Before submitting it, make sure you have researched what the company requirements are for uploading artwork so you create the art with these requirements in mind.
The final task of the creating a single or album step is to upload the actual music — upload the mp3. or wav. file of your song to the site.
Step 5: Choose Your Outlets
You get to pick the outlets and streaming platforms you want your project to show up on.
Major outlets like Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Tidal, etc. are popular amongst the public and would be great platforms to gain an audience. Other outlets like Pandora, iHeartRadio, Amazon, etc. are great too, but they’re less popular these days. With that being said — it never hurts to put your music EVERYWHERE. You never know who’s listening!
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Step 6: Pay Dem Fee’s 💰
Of course, everything comes with a price. Certain companies will make you pay upfront for whatever type of project you’re dropping, but some will allow you to pay after you’ve finished uploading your project.
You’ll need to enter your payment information. Most distro companies take all payment methods (PayPal, Visa, AMEX, etc.).
Depending on the distro company, you may have to make multiple payments — for example on top of DistroKid’s $20 annual fee, they charge a a one-dollar fee in order for Shazam to recognize your record(s).
ALSO, make sure you understand that if you stop making payments to your distro company your music WILL be taken down from digital media outlets like Spotify, Apple Music, etc.
Step 7: Sit & Wait
Once you’ve finished all the previously listed steps to upload your project(s), some distro services will give an estimated time frame of how long it will take for your project to go live on all platforms. In most cases, you can pick your release date far in advance, but if you decided to drop it last minute you will want to pay attention to how long they say it will take to go live. It’s likely that your distro company will keep in touch through emails or texts sending you notifications of how the process is going. For example, DistroKid sends you notifications every step of the way from when they first start the upload process to when your music has been fully uploaded. Once your music is fully uploaded, you’re ready to spread your wings n’ fly.