If you are starting a new record label, the first thing that should be on your list is understanding music distribution.
In today’s day and age, record labels have to make sure their artists are being put onto every music platform to achieve the most success.
Independent labels work a lot differently than they used to. Instead of searching for physical sales, you have to make sure music is distributed online.
While both still focus on live concerts, shows, and merchandise, making sure each artist’s music is on every streaming and buying platform may be quite a detail-oriented task.
So, how do record labels distribute music? And how can you get music on every major platform?
How Do Record Labels Distribute Music?
There are a few steps a record label should follow to distribute its artist’s music. With distribution services, distributing music is not as difficult as it may seem.
Record labels no longer have to find radio stations to play their artist’s work, instead, they sign up for a distribution service and place their artist’s music on as many platforms as possible.
To distribute music as a record label, you should follow these steps:
Find a distribution service that works for you.
- Create an account and register your label.
- Receive an approval email or notification from the distribution service.
- Create artist contracts.
- Make sure each album or song has album artwork and metadata.
- Distribute music to all major platforms and stores.
- Create a large catalog to get as much music online as possible.
Distributing music may not seem too difficult. However, making sure all the nuances are in place, like metadata and making sure all platforms are posting your artist’s music, may take some time to understand and put in place.
It is important to be detail oriented so nothing is missing, so each artist can go viral at any moment.
Best Label Distribution Companies
There is an endless number of distribution companies. It is important to pick a company that works for you.
To make things less overwhelming in your search, we have created a list of the top five companies to choose from.
DistroKid is quite a popular distribution service that allows you to upload an unlimited number of songs and artists. To get started on the service, you need 5 artists on your label and can have up to 100.
DistroKid distributes music to every major platform as well as smaller ones, as well as Chinese music platforms.
The service has over 100 streaming and buying services to distribute music to allow for royalties and the ability to get distinguished in the music scene.
While DistroKid is an easy-to-use distribution service, the number of artists that you can use on the label plan may be limited for some record labels.
Every time you post a new artist, it will take away an “artist slot” on your account. This artist slot will also be used for collaborators who may not be on your label but collaborating with an artist on your label.
If you plan on having many artists on your label or find that this may not work for you, DistroKid may not be a great fit.
However, if you notice you won’t be filling up the artist slot quickly, DistroKid can be a simple platform to get your artist’s music out there.
2. CD Baby
CD Baby is an established music distribution company that anyone can use. There is simply a fee for each song you release.
CD Baby offers promotional techniques and music industry information in their instructional materials. So if you are a new music label, you can take advantage of these special tools to help you.
The distribution service can distribute music to all major platforms and even the nuanced ones. However, it may be more difficult to use than other distribution services.
Since it is not an official distribution service, and will not do the hard work for you, it can be time-consuming to upload music on CD Baby.
It also does not offer a professional plan like other distribution services. However, if you’re just getting started and are learning about the music industry, CD Baby is a great start.
3. Identity Music
Identity Music can distribute music to all major platforms for your artists. You can upload an unlimited number of songs and artists.
They also offer services like transferring your catalog and even accounting.
If you are running a small independent label, distribution is quite easy with Identity Music. You will need to complete an application, and upon approval, you can get started.
4. Label Engine
Label Engine is a free distribution service that is made just for record labels. While it is free, it may take a percentage from all royalties that come through the service.
To use Label Engine, you will need to complete an application and then wait to be accepted. You can release an unlimited amount of music.
You can also upgrade your account to use their promotional label services to take advantage of their marketing and accounting tools made just for musical artists.
Label Engine is designed to be simple and made for record labels. It can distribute music to all major platforms and streaming services.
If you are a new label, Label Engine is a great choice to get started in the distribution world.
Similar to CD Baby, labels can use Tunecore to distribute music.
The platform is traditionally made for independent artists to distribute their music on their own. However, any record label can make an account just like a single artist.
You can also filter your accounting reports based on each artist, just like any other record label distribution program.
However, each independent artist would not be able to access their single sales directly, making the accounting not as organized as an actual professional account.
Tunecore is a great simple platform to get your label off the ground and distribute music. If you are looking for a service that is more geared towards labels, it would be best to try a different service.
Why is Music Distribution Important?
When it comes to music distribution for a record label, it is vital to make sure your artist’s music is out and able to be listened to. At any moment, an artist’s song can go viral as long as it is on every service possible.
Relying on physical distribution through albums and vinyl records is no longer needed in the modern day. To find fans and listeners, the single place to find them is online on streaming services.
Are Label Contracts Needed For Independent Labels?
Label contracts are standard for all record labels, whether they are independent or not.
It is essential to make sure you have a contract so the artist knows where their music is going and what you will be doing to it.
If your artist gains a partnership through a brand, you will have the ability to help them along the way. However, if there was no contract or agreement there would be no boundaries or communication.
A contract will protect you as a label along with the artist. It allows for standard communication between the two.
As a record label, it is on you to make sure your artists are on every platform possible. It is important to find a distribution service that works for you and your artists alike.
By putting standard procedures in place, like writing a contract and signing up for distribution service, you will allow for success for your record label and your artists.