Posted: Aug 30, 2022
Category: The Musician Business
**Guest post by Digby Pearson, founder of Earache Records.
"The music industry continues to evolve at super speed and when internet use became widespread it changed the game forever. We’ve been running our record label for over 35 years and were selling vinyl records before they became a collector’s item. We’re certainly still selling LPs but we know that now, every new band or artist needs to get their music online if they want to be heard by as many people as possible, which is why Earache Records launched a digital distribution service this summer.
Playlists on platforms like Spotify have the potential to propel a song into the public sphere as much as the charts or radio play. And if your music gets used in a viral TikTok video, you could soon see your fanbase soar.
Music distributors help to make that happen. Just like physical distribution ensured that those records were in the right shops, a digital distributor will ‘push’ out your music to the digital outlets where people can stream your work - and you can get paid every time it gets played through royalties.
If you’re ready to take the next step in your music career and want your tunes to be heard by more people, here are five things you should know about how digital distribution - and the distributors that make it happen - work.
Digital distributors act as the missing link between you and the big platforms such as Amazon, Apple Music, Tidal and more. To be in with the best chance of seeing your music on their digital ‘shelves’, you’ll need to use a distributor. Submission practices will vary from outlet to outlet but most don’t have the option to upload music without using third-party distribution. If they do have the option, then your email or submission won’t be backed by the same influence as an approved distributor.
Fees will vary depending on which distributor you use. Most ask for an upfront cost per track or album. Some may charge extra to deliver your music to particular platforms, while others - like ours - include all platforms at no additional cost.
Working with a distributor is different to signing a record deal. In fact, there are no contracts to sign. You simply log in to your chosen platform and create an account.
However at Earache, we do know a lot about record deals. Earache Digital Distribution is an offshoot of our label that’s been running for over 35 years. Each distributor will have their point of difference - this is ours, and we’re happy to share access to our contact book of designers, video directors, PR teams and more to members of our distribution service.
This is the main difference between using digital distribution, and signing a record contact. You’ll always keep 100% of your rights at all times - the creative work is yours to do anything you want with.
Instead, distribution typically asks for a percentage of any royalties earned from the music, and the exact details will vary from distributor to distributor. Read our full terms of service to get an idea of what to expect here.
Even if you’re not massively established yet, you can still use a distributor. Of course, having a good social media presence, with a website or bio that introduces yourself and your values succinctly, can help to capture any new fans who discover you through each streaming platform.
There’s a streaming service to suit every genre. Whether you’re making ambient techno or indie rock, you can use a distributor to ensure you’re exactly where your fans are. And with the rise of niche playlisting, you’ll stand a better chance of being discovered by those who resonate with your sound the most.
Being at the forefront of the extreme metal genre in the late 80s and early 90s, coupled with multiple Top 20 and Top 10 charting rock acts in recent years, Earache Records traditionally specialises in rock and metal. However, Earache Digital Distribution is open to everyone and we welcome artists of all genres."
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