3 Things I Wish I Knew About Getting My Songs On Digital Platforms

It might seem easy for some artists to get their music uploaded to all digital platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, but it can be a very daunting process. Even with experience, artists can still find it difficult.

When I first started putting my music on digital platforms, I had my husband do it because I just really had no idea. It was all a bit overwhelming, and he had some experience with recording, so I thought it was best to leave it to him. That is until I decided I wanted to take over the process, so I knew how to do it myself. 

I felt a little insecure and dependent on people when I first got into my second marriage because my confidence had taken such a knock when I divorced. I was pretty scared I would do something wrong and create a crap life for my kids! 

As an independent artist, you want to take control of every aspect of your career. So it's important to know how to do these things; even if at a later stage you pass the task onto someone else, I think you should still know how to do something before you can effectively delegate it. 

In this episode, I will talk about three things I wish I knew when I was putting my music on digital platforms. 

1. What does a distribution house or an aggregator do for you?

An aggregator is a channel you can use to help you distribute your music globally through digital stores and streaming platforms. We mostly know the term "distribution house", but they are called an aggregator.

They generally make money by charging you an upfront fee for their service. A lot of them now have a yearly subscription to upload as many songs as you like for as little as $30 per year. 

An aggregator will take your music and artwork that you upload and will send it out to all digital stores and streaming platforms worldwide. This means your music will be on platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and any digital store you can buy or stream music. 

2. What do I need to upload my music to an aggregator?

To correctly upload your music to your chosen aggregator, you will need the following assets. 

But first, you will need to sign up for an account. This is a simple process. Overall, they have made the process of releasing your music incredibly simple. 

Here are the assets you will need. 

  1. Your artwork - 3000 x 3000 pixels is best, .jpeg and no larger than 10Mb.
  2. The mastered file - this can be AIFF, WAV, FLAC or MP3, but I would suggest never to use an MP3 file. It's the worst quality recording. I always use AIFF because it can house data on the file, which is very helpful in the world of sync-licensing. 

Then you will need to answer a bunch of questions on the platform regarding the song, who sings it, and who owns it. You will need to choose a portion of the song you want to be previewed on the digital platforms. So choose the catchy part to make people want to buy or stream it. You'll also get to decide how much you want to sell it for. They will generally give you three options. That's totally up to you.  

3. What package to choose:

You will have the option to choose what package you want. You can also choose to add a pre-order. A pre-order is when your fans can buy your music beforehand, which will be added to your library on the day of release. These sales also count towards charts.

You may also have the option for the aggregator to collect your publishing royalties. Before I dive into this, in next week's episode, I will be chatting with Australia's Performance Rights Organisation APRA/AMCOS, and we will cover a lot of this, so you don't want to miss next week's show. But, in short, publishing is kind of like a manager for your music, so they will pitch your songs for tv, film, video games, other singers etc. Now, while this sounds amazing… it's not as incredible as it sounds. I wouldn't suggest you choose it, or if you want to, then do your homework and ensure you understand what you're choosing. You are signing away your publishing rights, and if you're serious about making money from your music, you want to either keep your own publishing rights or find a publisher that offers a far better deal than these aggregators.

When I am uploading my music, I go with the most basic package, and I usually add a pre-order. 

So there you have it, the three things I wish I knew when I first started using a distribution house.

  1. What is a distribution house, because I didn't know they existed! They sure didn't when I first started recording at the age of 14! 
  2. What assets I would actually need and their specs. 
  3. What package I should choose so I can protect my music. 

What you must always consider is what you may want to do with your music down the track. Today's society doesn't really value music the way it used to and the way it deserves to be valued. But don't you make the same mistake. Songwriting and recording can be very lucrative when you own all of your own music. There are many different ways to generate an income from your music. 

So when you are ready to release your music, make sure you have everything ready to go. 

Don't stress too much about making mistakes because your aggregator will come back to you to tell you that they can't send it out to stores. They explain why and give you a chance to fix it. I have also been there and done that a few times!

Alright, let me know in the comments if you have had a good or bad experience with your distribution house and maybe even let us know which one it was so we can all read the feedback and help each other out!

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