Now you’ve written that smash hit and want the world to hear it. So how do you get it to Spotify? When you say you want to upload to Spotify you usually mean you want to upload to the increasing number of streaming sites that exist; Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Instagram/Facebook , TikTok/Resso, YouTube Music, Amazon, Soundtrack by Twitch, Pandora, Deezer, Tidal, iHeartRadio, ClaroMusica, Saavn, Boomplay, Anghami, KKBox, NetEase, Tencent, Triller, Yandex Music and MediaNet. (As of November 2021.) None of those streaming sites accept individual artists to upload their music. It has to be done via a distributor. Most record labels, large and indies, are distributors so if you have a record label deal you can stop reading now. But if you’re an independent artist you’ll have to use one of the public distributors that exists.
So what does a music distributor do?
In very simple terms, they help bridge the gap between you and the major streaming and download platforms out there.
There are plenty of companies out there that are willing and able to help you distribute your music. A lot of them even provide other features that can also help support other important areas of your career. Putting your song on playlists, creating videos and sharing on social media are things your distributor can help you with.
Typically how it works is, you sign up for one of these companies and input your basic information. They do this in exchange for either a fee, commission on your music or in some cases for completely free.
Thus allowing you to send them your music releases and then they go to work with all the behind the scenes and administrative work to get your music up and live on the likes of Spotify, Apple and the dozens of other stores.
1. Choose a distributor
They all basically do the same job but with different payment models. If you feel you made a bad choice it’s easy to switch to an other distributor without losing commission or streaming stats.
In my opinion, if we are looking at things from a business perspective we either want to make sure we are keeping costs very low or that we are maximizing profits. This is where being aware of your current situation is very important.
If you are sure you will be making a lot of money from your music then this will impact how you approach the question of which distributor to use.
I personally respect what these distributors do for artists, and do believe that they are providing a service that requires work on their end. For them as a business, the fact remains that they need to keep the lights on.
However I also think that you work very hard on your music and as you grow the more people will come looking for their piece of the pie.
Commissions are great if you are not making much money. At the end of the day 20% of $0 is nothing to write home about. However 20% can start to add up in no time when that $0 starts to climb in value.
In which case, going for a company that simply charges a fee would be my suggestion. However, with the fierce competition within the music distribution industry, you now have companies introducing models that charge no fees and take zero commissions.
2. Upload your song to your distributor
Your song should be “radio ready” or rather distributor ready. That means that it should be a high quality audio file (not an mp3) with enough sample rate (44,1 kHz) and bit rate (16 bit). It should also be loud enough (-14 lufs). Personally, I don’t fancy the loudness war that goes on out there but if your song has particularly less loudness than other songs on Spotify you will face problems when people can’t hear your song at normal volume level.
If you don’t know how to set all these levels you have to contact a master engineer or a mastering service that does this for you. However if you don’t follow these marks your song will be uploaded regardless.
3. Upload cover art
Regardless if you upload a single, EP or Album it needs cover art. The song or album cover is displayed on Spotify but most often as an icon. So consider that even if on old LP cover can be beautiful, all the details will not be visible on Spotify. My advice is to have a strong clear image with just a person or face or a clear and visible object or symbol that represents your song. The image should be of high resolution (2000×2000 ppi). Skip all texts like title or band name. The text will anyhow be visible in Spotify’s app under your song icon.
4. Enter meta data and credits
Mandatory credits are song title, artist or band name, composer and lyrics writer and record label. But you can also enter more credits like featured artist, musicians playing, producer and other contributors. On many distributors you can also add a split list for the revenue. Other meta data you add are genre, similar artist, recoding site etc.
5. Sign up to Spotify for artists
At Spotify for artists you will find your streaming statistics. You can also submit your music to Spotify playlists like release radar. To be able to do that you have to set a future release date at least two weeks in the future when you upload at your distributor. However, before you can sign up for Spotify for artists you have to have at least one release on Spotify.
There are similar services like Apple artists
|COMMISSION||DISTRIBUTION FEE||YEARLY FEE||SPEED TO APPLE MUSIC (weekdays)||SPEED TO SPOTIFY||CUSTOM LABEL NAME||ADDITIONAL ARTISTS COST?||COST of ISRC CODES?||COST of UPC CODES?||PAYMENT||WITHHOLD TAXES FROM ARTISTS FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES||RELEASE COVER SONGS?||CUSTOMER SUPPORT EMAIL TURN AROUND||CUSTOMER SUPPORT PHONE||CUSTOMER SUPPORT LIVE CHAT||REVENUE REPORTS (non existent, calculus degree required, poor, decent, clear and intelligible, best)||# OF ARTISTS / LABELS||# OF SONGS RELEASED||# OF LABELS|
|Amuse||0%||free / $60 year for “Pro”||$0||14 days with ‘pro’||14 days with ‘pro’||yes, with ‘pro’||free||free||free||2-3 month delay||no||yes||within a day with ‘pro’||no||no||poor||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|AWAL||15%||$0||$0||requests 4 weeks||requests 4 weeks||yes||free||free||free||within 45 days||yes||yes||2 working days||no||exisiting clients only||decent||20||280,000+||n/a|
|CD Baby||9%||single = $9.95 album = $29||$0||1-2 days||1-2 days||yes||free||free||$5 single, $20 album||weekly||yes||yes||same day (business days)||by request||9am-5pm PST||clear and intelligible||800||10 million||n/a|
|DistroKid||0%||unlimited releases for… 1 artist = $19.99/yr 2 artists = $35.99/yr 5 artists = $79.99/yr 10 artists = $139.99/yr||see distribution fees||1-7 days||2-7 days||with musician plus plan ($35.99/yr)||see distribution fees||free||free||by withdrawal||yes||yes||1 business day||no||no||poor||940||6.3 million||75|
|Ditto||0%||unlimited releases for… 1 artist = $19/yr 2 artists = $29/yr 5 artists = $69/yr 10 artists = $119/yr 15 artists = $159/yr 20 artists = $199/yr 30 artists = $249/yr 40 artists = $299/yr||see distribution fees||3-5 days||1-3 days||yes||see distribution fees||free||free||immediate||no||yes||within hours, 24/7||no||24-Jul||clear and intelligible||250||4,000/week on average||40|
|Fresh Tunes||0%||$0||$0||up to 1 day for trusted users; up to 15 days for all others||up to 1 day||yes||for value added services only (promotion personal assistant, detailed financial statistics)||free||free||60 days||no||no||1 working day||no||for users who paid for personal assistant and via official Facebook and VK groups||poor||450||1.5m||n/a|
|Horus Music||0% or 20% with label services||unlimited releases for… 1 artist = £20/yr 2 artists = £30/yr 5 artists = £70/yr 10 artists = £120/yr 15 artists = £160/yr 20 artists = £200/yr 30 artists = £250/yr 40 artists = £300/yr one-time payments: single = £25 EP = £35 album = £45||see distribution fees||24 hours||24 hours||yes||see distribution fees||free||free||monthly||no||yes||24 hours||yes||no||clear and intelligible||n/a||250||n/a|
|LANDR||0% – 15%||unlimited releases for $89/yr & 0% commission $20/yr plan: single = $5 EP/Album = $19 9% commission Free plan: single = $9 EP/Album = $29 15% commission||see distribution fees||1 day||1-2 days||yes||$10/yr||free||free||first week of month||no||yes||Same day (business days)||by request||yes||clear and intelligible||1.3 million||n/a||n/a|
|ONErpm||15%||$0||$0||under 24 hours||within 24 hours||yes||free||free||free||immediate||no||yes||within 24 hours||by request||no||clear and intelligible||430||5-6 million||1|
|RouteNote||Free = 15% Premium = 0%||For Premium: 1 song = $10 2-6 songs = $20 7-18 songs $30 18+ songs = $45||$9.99/yr or free with “Free”||1-5 days||1-5 days||yes||free||free||free||on the 15th of each month||no||yes||24 hours||weekdays 8-6 UK time||no||clear and intelligible||500||2 million||10s of thousands|
|Songtradr||0% with subscription, 10% without||unlimited releases for… 1 artist = $20/yr 2 artists = $63.70 5 artists = $93.10 10 artists = $137.20 15 artists = $181.30 20 artists = $225.40 30 artists = $303.80 40 artists = $382.20 100 artists = $803.60||see distribution fees||2-7 days||2-7 days||yes||see distribution fees||free||free||monthly||no||no||2 hours during business hours||yes||no||clear and intelligible||500||150||400|
|Soundrop||15%||$0||$0||3-5 days originals, 5-10 days for covers||3-5 days, 5-10 days covers||yes||free||free||free||monthly||no||yes||1-3 days||no||yes||decent||40||600||n/a|
|Spinnup||0%||single = £7.99 / $9.99 / €9.99 EP = £14.99 / $19.99 / €19.99 album = £29.99 / $39.99 / €39.99||see distribution fees||2-7 business days||2-4 business days||yes||n/a||free||free||monthly||no||yes||48 hours||no||no||clear and intelligible||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Stem||10%||$0||$0||5 days||5 days||yes||n/a||free||free||15th of the month||no||by request||1 day||yes||no||clear and intelligible||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Symphonic||15% (or flexible)||$0||$0||3+ Days||3+ Days||by request||free||free||free||monthly||yes||yes||1 business day||per request||no||decent||50,000+||2 million||10|
|TuneCore||0%||single = $9.99 album = $29.99||single: $9.99 album: $49.99||5 days||5 business days||yes||free||free||free||weekly||yes||yes||1 business day. Monday-Friday 10am-6pm (EST)||yes (email first)||no||clear and intelligible||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|UnitedMasters||0% (with subscription) or 10%||$0||$0 or $59.99 (keep 100% royalties)||1-7 days||1-7 days||yes||free||free||free||monthly||no||yes||within 2 days||no||no||clear and intelligible||500||n/a||n/a|