As we know, music streaming is now a massive industry with more than 1 billion daily active users in 2020.
It’s no secret that most people and especially younger ones listen to music all the time, and with the rapid advancements in technology, streaming our music is now the norm.
There are now so many music streaming platforms available in the market today, and Apple Music is simply one of the market leaders.
As a musician and artist, you’d definitely want a platform where you can put your music to attract more people and let them listen to it. Obviously putting your music on a platform with a huge user base like Apple Music will provide us the advantage to reach out to more people.
In this guide, we will discuss all the ins and outs of how to get your music on Apple Music, and by the end, you’d have a clearer picture of the required steps in making your songs available on the platform.
Without further ado, let us begin.
Why Is It Important To Get Your Music on Apple Music?
It’s no secret that Spotify is still the biggest music streaming platform in 2020, with more than 113 million subscribers as per October 2019 all around the world.
Apple Music, being a relatively new platform (only been launched in 2015), is actually not that far behind with over 60 million premium subscribers and it has more subscribers in the U.S. than Spotify.
Considering there is no free option with Apple Music, this growth is actually an impressive feat. There are, however, bundles tied to wireless providers (Verizon in the U.S.), which might explain this wide adoption in the U.S.
So, if you are a musician based in the U.S. or are willing to target the U.S. market—who doesn’t? —, getting your music on Apple Music is a must.
If you are just starting out, putting your tracks on free distribution platforms like Bandcamp and SoundCloud is a good start, but distributing your music on Apple Music along with other distribution platforms like Pandora and Spotify can bring your music’s reach to the next level.
Also, Apple Music will provide you with a way to monetize your music (we will discuss more of this further below).
To summarize, there are two main benefits of getting your tracks on Apple Music:
- Earn streaming revenue
- Put your tracks in front of Apple Music’s huge user base
Apple Music offers several different ways of how listeners can find new music:
- Searching for your song name, albums, lyrics, artist name, and so on, which is pretty obvious
- Curated playlist
- The browse section where tracks will be recommended based on the user’s previous activities
- Algorithm-based recommendations based on demographic data and user activities
- Social recommendations (songs listened by your friends)
It doesn’t mean, however, that by putting your tracks on Apple Music alone, you can automatically get a lot of listeners. You’d still need a working promotion plan to get your songs featured on a playlist or recommendation.
Why You Need a Music Distributor To Get Your Music on Apple Music?
Do you actually need a music distributor to get your tracks on Apple Music? The short answer is yes. Apple only features tracks and albums through music distributors, which are also called aggregators.
A music distribution service essentially acts as a middleman between you—the artist—and Apple Music. You upload your audio files and album/cover art and input your metadata and information.
Then you can set up when and on which platform (in this case, Apple Music) where your music will be released.
The music distributor will distribute all the behind-the-scenes work for you, and most major aggregators will provide UPC and ISRC codes for free and will also provide reports for the stats surrounding your music.
Your distributor will also handle the reporting for your revenue generated from streams and downloads of your tracks and will distribute this money for you (depending on the aggregator, they might take a certain percentage of it).
To summarize, here are the main advantages of distributing your music through music aggregators:
Distributing Your Tracks In Premium Platforms
Having a music distributor aggregates your tracks for you is the only way you can get your music on Apple Music (besides getting signed by a label). Typically you’d need to pay a small subscription fee or share your royalty profits with the aggregators.
The music distribution service will handle all the required paperwork (which can be a daunting process and a major time waster), and they will also handle all the reports.
So, it’s going to be much easier for you to monitor your track’s performance on Apple Music and get paid. You can save your precious time and focus on the creative process of making music instead.
The more streaming platforms your tracks are featured in, the more potential streaming revenues you can earn. A music distributor can not only distribute your tracks to Apple Music but also on other streaming platforms like Spotify and Pandora, among others.
By being featured on major platforms like Apple Music or Spotify through an aggregator, you can bypass the process of getting the legitimacy as a musician. This will allow you to grow your reach and get more people to listen to your tracks and albums.
Top 3 Recommended Distributors To Upload Your Music To Apple Music
Now that we’ve discussed why you’d need a music distributor to get your music on Apple Music, here are our top recommendations.
TuneCore is a very well-known music distributor that has been around for more than a decade. With TuneCore, we can distribute our tracks on more than 150 platforms including Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, Google Play, and Amazon Music, among others.
TuneCore is a subscription-based music aggregator, meaning, you’d need to pay a yearly fee to distribute your songs with the following pricing models:
- Album: $29.99 for the first year, $49.99/year for the following years
- Single: $9.99/year
- Ringtone: $19.99/year
These fees are flat, so you’d keep 100% of your royalties and streaming revenues, and this is the biggest advantage of using Tunecore. If your stream a single to a lot of listeners and generate $1,000 in revenue, then you’d keep 100% of it. So, the bigger you are, the better Tunecore is for you.
Another advantage you might want to consider is how they sync the licensing of your tracks, so your music is available in the databases content creators can use in their own media. For example, if someone decides to use your track on their YouTube video, they can put in the proper licensing details and you’d get paid via TuneCore.
DistroKid can also distribute your music to more than 150 streaming channels, including Apple Music, and is probably the simplest music distribution service to work with.
You can set everything up very easily with DistroKid, and you can send your song to Apple Music from scratch in just a matter of hours. Very simple signup process
One of the key highlights of using DistroKid as your music distributor is its affordable, flat-rate fee. You only need to pay an annual fee of $19.99/year and you can then upload an unlimited number of tracks and albums for a year. So, if you plan to release a lot of music in a year, DistroKid is most likely the best, cost-efficient option.
You keep 100% of your royalties, and there’s no additional fee. Even with its very affordable fee, DistroKid also offers some unique features for Apple Music like verification checkmark, cover photos, and lyrics. There are also other amazing features like Cover Song Licensing, Payment Splitting, and more.
Again, probably the most cost-efficient music distributor service that might appeal to small artists, and also those who plan to release a lot of songs of albums in one year.
iMusician is a Germany-based music distribution service that markets itself as the Europe’s leading music distribution service. iMusician can distribute your tracks to more than 250 streaming services including Apple Music.
The signup process with iMusician is fairly simple, and once registered, you can simply upload your music in WAV format and then iMusician will either distribute your track to one channel for your choosing (for its most affordable “Starter” plan) or all 250+ platforms at once (for Regular, Rockstart and Pro Unlimited plans.
The four available plans are actually quite interesting, since iMusician provides a rather flexible pricing scheme that might cater to different artists with different needs.
The Starter plan, for example, offers us to pay only $2 one-time (not monthly) fee to distribute a track to any 1 platform of our choosing, but we’ll share 30% of our royalty. There is also the Rockstar plan where you’d pay $20 one-time fee but you keep 100% of your royalty, and a $299/year Pro Unlimited plan where you can upload as many songs as you want in a year and keep your royalty.
So, it’s pretty versatile. With the Regular and above plans, you can also block some of the 250+ streaming platforms if you don’t want your track to be featured on a certain platform.
- Starter: $2 one-time fee for each track, 30% commission, 1 store of your choice
- Regular: $5 one-time fee for each track, 15% commission, 250+ stores
- Rockstar: $20 one-time fee for each track, 0% commission, 250+ stores
- Pro Unlimited: $299 annual fee, 0% commission, 250+ stores
Requirements: How To Prepare Your Music Before Sending It To Apple Music?
As we have established above, Apple Music requires us to work with an Apple-preferred music distributor or an encoding house to send your tracks to Apple Music. According to Apple’s own words:
Apple-preferred distributors and encoding houses help you reach a worldwide audience through Apple Music and the iTunes Store. These partners are referred to as content providers.
- Preferred Distributors must consistently meet strict delivery targets and are evaluated by Apple to ensure they have the necessary tools and expertise for music distribution.
- Preferred Encoding Houses assist distributors with the technical aspects of distribution for your music, music videos, and concert films.
We have recommended our top 3 music distributors you can work with, but you can check the full list here if you want to check for other music distributors that are preferred by Apple Music.
So, what would you need to prepare before you can send your music to Apple Music via these aggregators? The answer would vary depending on the music distributor/aggregator you work with, but typically you’d need to prepare the following:
- Sign up on the aggregator platform and provide your details (might need to include your U.S. Tax ID details that matched the ID on file with the IRS).
- You might need to pay for a subscription fee. Tune core, for example, will distribute a single for $9.99 per year or an album for $29.99/year.
- Your music, properly mixed and mastered with the right format. The aggregator might screen your track’s quality.
- Well-designed cover art
Keep in mind that some music spinning platforms including Apple Music might not accept all the music submitted (although it’s relatively easier to get your tracks on Apple Music compared to Pandora or Beatport).
So, even if your music distributor is an Apple-preferred distributor, it doesn’t necessarily mean your tracks are 100% guaranteed to be distributed on Apple Music.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Regarding Distributions on Apple Music
How Long Does It Take To Get My Music on Apple Music?
In most cases, it will take 24 to 72 hours after Apple receives your track from the content provider (in this case, a music distributor of your choosing).
However, you might want to check with your aggregators/distributors since they might have their own screening/review process before the music is delivered to Apple Music.
It is, however, quite possible that Apple will review your music internally for one reason or another (and it can be just a random review), and the process can take up to 16 business days. During holidays, Apple Music often has delivery delays, so you might want to submit your tracks to the aggregator as early as possible to avoid time-sensitive issues.
How Much Does Apple Music Pay?
Apple Music pays the music rights “holder” every time the user streams the content, and the rate is between $0.0064 and $0.00783 per stream.
To put it into some context, Spotify pays about the same at about $0.006–0.0084 per stream. The rate fluctuates each month depending on the amount of subscription revenue generated (the more subscribers, the more money per stream you’d get).
So, for every one million streams for your music, you will get between $6,400 and $7,830. The music rights holder can be split among the artist, songwriter(s), producers, aggregator, and record label. However, if you are distributing your music via a music distributor, then the right holder is usually you (and your songwriter and producer, if any).
It’s worth noting that Apple Music does sell your music via downloads.
When and How Do You Get Paid by Apple Music?
Apple Music pays your streaming royalties via your music distributors, so this answer would depend on which music distributor you actually use.
Typically, the music distributor will provide a monthly report detailing how many streams are generated for each of your track, and then will also distribute the money each month.
Apple Music also pays royalties to songwriters (for the composition) through publishing companies or Performance Rights Organizations (PROs).
How Much Does Apple Music Pay Per 1000 Streams?
Based on the rates we have discussed above ($0.0064 and $0.00783 per stream), then you’d get between $6.4 to $7.8 per 1,000 streams. As you can see, the music streaming business is a volume game.
Which Streaming Service Pays The Most?
Amazon Music Unlimted currently pays the most out of any other streaming services ($0.012 per stream) and Rhapsody is the close second at $0.011/stream. However, these two platforms aren’t anywhere as popular as Apple Music or Spotify, so the total stream count would be much smaller.
How Should I Choose a Music Distribution Service?
Since any music distributor or aggregator mainly offers similar services, your choice should be based on mainly two factors: pricing scheme and reliability.
Different distributors might offer significantly different pricing schemes, and some will also take a certain percentage of your royalty, so choose a distributor with a pricing scheme you are comfortable with.
Also, make sure they are trustworthy and reliable. The three music distributor services we’ve recommended are credible and trustworthy.
Apple Music is certainly one of the best streaming platforms to distribute your music at the moment, especially with its massive user base with over 60 million active users all over the world.
Also, Apple Music is the streaming platform with the most subscribers in the U.S.
To distribute your music to Apple Music, you can work with a music distributor or aggregator, and we’d recommend Tunecore, Distrokid, and iMusician as the best music distributors available to get your music on Apple Music.