How to Sell Your Music Online – The Ultimate Guide

How to Sell Your Music Online – The Ultimate Guide

I ran a poll to see which music distribution platforms my followers were using to sell their music online. 

The majority said Distrokid with CD Baby in a close second.

Distrokid is by far the cheapest but does it offer the same benefits of the more expensive platforms and are you missing out on some features that could contribute to more sales?

Each platform has its pros and cons and each one has it's a unique way of doing things.

Just cos one platform works for one person, it might not mean it will work for you.

After all, we all make music in different ways.

So which one should you choose? Read on to find out which platform works best for you.

cd-baby-logo

Brief Introduction

CD Baby started in 1998 as an online CD store in Woodstock by founder Derek Sivers.

In time they've grown to be the largest global digital distributor of independent music and lay claim to the largest publishing rights administrator in the world.

Artists, Who Use(d) The Platform

Artists such as Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Twenty One Pilots, and Macklemore got their start selling their music online through CD Baby.

 

Fun Fact

CD Baby artist Brother Dege's song Too Old to Die, Young, was personally picked by Quentin Tarantino to feature in his then-upcoming movie Django Unchained.

What Do They Say?

CD Baby, Inc. is the largest online distributor of independent music in the world. The company has been described as an "anti-label" by Tracy Maddux Cd Babys CEO.

CD Baby is the only digital aggregator with top preferred partner status with both Spotify and Apple Music.

(A digital music aggregator collects music from a number of different sources, I.e. musicians and labels.

This means that Spotify and Apple Music, don't need to worry about dealing with the time-consuming job of getting content to populate their music store).

What Do They Offer?

CD Baby offers digital music distribution, (selling your music online) worldwide publishing rights administration, monetization of music use on social video platforms.

Likewise, sync licensing, music marketing and online advertising, cover song licensing, and physical distribution and order fulfilment for CDs and vinyl records.

By opting into their online distribution service, artists can authorize CD Baby to act on their behalf to submit music for sale to online retailers such as SpotifyApple MusicAmazon MusicPandora Radio, and 150+ other streaming services

Source Wikipedia

 

Stats

  • Cd baby is home to more than 650,000 artists and 9 million tracks that are made available to over 100 digital services and platforms around the globe.
  • The firm currently operates out of Portland, Oregon, with offices in New York City and London.
  • In 2018, CD Baby paid over $100 million (€90,122) to its artist community (a 25% increase from 2017), bringing its total artist payouts to over $700 million (€630, 857) 

Cost

CD-Baby-distribution-pricing

Single - €9 - Album - €26 - Single Pro - €27 - Album Pro €62

Standard v Pro

  • Worldwide digital distribution
  • Worldwide CD distribution
  • Sell music on store.cdbaby.com
  • Make money on YouTube
  • Sync licensing for TV, film, and games
  • Performing Rights Organization affiliation or admin
  • Song registration with global collection agencies
  • Worldwide publishing royalty collection

 

Pros:

  • Global Youtube publishing for any video on Youtube that contains your music.
  • They Collect all your performance royalties for you that you're owed worldwide.
  • They also collect sync licensing for games, if your music gets into a game.
  • 3-minute or fewer response times for expert help. 
  • UPC Barcode to keep track of physical and digital sales. 
  • Direct payment through PayPal. 

 

Cons:

  • To collect your publishing royalties, you will need to sign up for CD Baby pro. The basic plan only lets you collect mechanical royalties.
  • It costs nearly 3 times as much to upload an album as it does a single.  
  • They take 9% of your royalties. 

 

Authors View

I think the pro-version of CD Baby, is the perfect example of them saying, the more you spend the more you make.

Personally, I'd use free music rights organisations like IMRO for collecting performance rights and stick to the standard version of CD Baby to sell your music online.

Why pay for it when you can get it for free?!

tunecore-logo-selling-your-music-online

A Brief Introduction

Tunecore claim to have changed the game in 2006 by partnering with digital stores to allow musicians to sell their music worldwide and keep 100% of the royalties.

TuneCore is a Brooklyn, New York-based independent digital music distribution, publishing, and licensing service founded in 2005 by Jeff Price.

 

Artists Who Use(d) The Platform

Chance The Rapper, Sofi Tukker, JSWISS.

"The control and ease of TuneCore are invaluable to an independent artist. Some parts of navigating a career in music can be complicated; this isn't one of them."
 -JSWISS

Acts such as Chance The Rapper, an active user of TuneCore’s services, are pioneering the path for the new generation of record label-less musicians.

Chance The Rapper is an active Tunecore user and an avid advocate of musicians independent of any label.

With Tunecore earning over a 1 Billion US dollars in revenue for its artists, it's safe to say it's highly plausible a career can be forged without a record label.

 

Fun Fact:

Black Francis of the Pixies was Tunecores first customer

 

What Do They Say?

TuneCore is the world's leading digital music distribution service. Artist can sell their music online through iTunes, AmazonMP3, Rhapsody, Spotify and more. Artists keep 100% of royalties.

What Do They Offer?

Worldwide Music Distribution
Get your music playing in over 150 digital stores and streaming services across 100+ countries worldwide.

Keep 100% of Your Sales
TuneCore never takes a cut of your sales. Every penny you earn is put right into your TuneCore account.

Comprehensive Sales Data
Find out exactly where fans are downloading and streaming your music so you can increase marketing efforts and plan tours around those cities.

Stats

Tunecore represents about 10% of the 20,000,000 songs on Itunes and accounts for 4% of all digital sales. That is the scope of TuneCore.

Tunecore reported that their artists have earned a total of $83 million (€75 million) in Q1 of 2019, a 21 % increase from Q1 2018.

Last year, distribution income for artists reached $308 million (€278 million), a 28 % year-on-year increase.

Cost

Tunecore-distribution-pricing

Album  - €26 - Single - €9 - Ringtone - €18

Ringtone

Tunecore offers ringtone distribution for $19.99 (€18) Which I find a bit steep. Do people still pay for ringtones these days?

I'm not sure it's still a thing, but if you want to impress your friends, go for it. Personally, I just don't think it's worth the extra bucks.

 

Pros

  • Fast & Reliable Artist Support
  • 100% Royalties
  • Slick Design
  • Simple to use
  • Tunecore Presents
  • Analytics

Cons

  • There are so many add ons.
  • It seems like every time you click on something, they're trying to get you to depart with your hard-earned cash.
  • Yearly Fees.
  • Overall it can be quite expensive, especially if you're just starting out.
    Tunecore charge a hefty $79 (€71) one-time fee, to collect royalties on your behalf.

 

Authors View

Tunecore works best for artists who have let's say + 100,000 streams a year. Upload your music, complete the checkout and they'll do the rest of the work for you.

Tunecore does what they do extremely well, but I do find that they overcharge you for the privilege. The add-ons all add up (some of them are essential) and you will find your profit dwindling.

distrokid-logo-selling-your-music-online

A Brief Introduction

DistroKid is an independent digital music distribution service, founded in 2013[1] by entrepreneur Philip J. "Pud" Kaplan.

DistroKid principally offers musicians and other rights-holders the opportunity to distribute and sell or stream their music through online retailers such as iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, Google Play Music, Tidal, Deezer, iHeartRadio and others.

 

Artists who use(d) the platform

Jack & Jack (more about them later) and the incredible Ludacris’s.

Ludacris is quoted as saying,

“DistroKid is the future.

In 2017, Ludacris selected DistroKid to release his single, "Vitamin D (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)".

What Do They Say?

They say that Distrokid is even championed by the founders of Tunecore & CD Baby

Jeff Price, founder of Tunecore says “Distrokid is simply the best distributor in the market”.

Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby says “This is amazing, I'll be sending everyone I know to Distrokid now”. They both are now both working for the company. 

I think that says enough, but I'll keep going. 

 

What Do They Offer?

Unlimted songs - CD Baby only lets you upload 10 max. This is huge! Especially if you're constantly putting out records. 

You keep a 100% commission. Not too bad eh?! 

 

Cost

$19.99yr.

For that price, you get customer service, daily stats, loads of included features and an interface that's simple and easy to use.

distrokid-pricing

Musician - €17.95 - Musician Plus - €32.30 - Label - €72

 

Teams Feature

You can split up percentages of the music. So if you wrote the song for an example you get 40% and if there are 4 members they get 15%. You have to be on Distrokid to get your percentage.

You can also customise your record label on the premium package which is pretty cool.

 

Speedy Releases

Another benefit to using Distrokid is that your new releases will be in online stores in a fraction of the time it takes for other stores to get around to it.

In fact, they claim their service is 10-20 times faster. Just think about that for a second. 

 

Fun Fact

In July 2015, a DistroKid release by musical act Jack & Jack went to #1 worldwide in the iTunes charts.

 

As Distrokid does not take any commission. This is the first time a #1 charting artist was able to keep 100% of their earnings.

Pros

  • Upload unlimited Songs
  • Upload Unlimited Lyrics
  • Spotify Verified Checkmark
  • Keep 100% Commission
  • One minute Instagram help videos
  • Team Features
  • Speedy Releases

 

Cons

  • Distrokid does not collect composition royalties.
  • If you don't have the premium feature you will not be able to plan release or have your music on preorder.
  • Some essential features are only available in the premium version.

 

Authors View

With endorsements, from established artists like Ludacris, bedroom producers and professionals alike can benefit from this diversely effective service. 

As I said previously, I have used CD Baby for many years and find it great but Distrokid has just so much to offer.

It’s user-friendly and you can sell your music online for a fraction of the time for a fraction of the price as many times as you so, please.

Ditto-Music-Banner-Image-selling-your-music-online

A Brief Introduction

Ditto Music distributes music to 160 digital music stores, including Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, VEVO, Apple Music, Beatport, Deezer and Shazam.

It was founded in 2005 by Lee Parsons and Matt Parsons.

 

Artists who use(d) the platform

Ed Sheeran, Royal Blood, Rewired and Loom who were featured in Kerrang and NME respectively through Ditto's Music PR service.

 

Because of my great results after using Ditto's services, I'm not only increasing my sales and my fan base but I also managed to chart in the top 10 of iTunes on my first ever release.
- Louisa Wendorff

 

What do they offer?

  • The record label in a box
  • Music PR Service
  • Release strategy
  • Social media starter pack
  • Full press campaign
  • 360 press, publicity & marketing

What do they say?

Distrokid, are an online digital music distributor with a proven record of getting unsigned artists into the UK Top 40, and the world's biggest artists into the world's digital stores.

They're musicians themselves: They claim to give you everything a record label can offer and value no one can match. 

Cost

Ditto-pricing

Artist - $22 - Pro - $32 - Label - $77

Pros

  • Keep 100% of your royalties
  • Award-winning customer service
  • Get your music playlisted
  • No yearly fees

Cons

  • History of bad customer service
  • Hidden Fees
  • Payouts only made through Payoneer
  • Only select users get Youtube monetisation

Extras

Ditto work out a personal campaign for you based on your budget.

Campaigns include Social media campaigns, PR campaigns and Radio Campaigns.

 

Price Guidelines

  • Social Media From £299.00
  • PR Campaigns From £1,499.00 for a six-week campaign.
  • UK Radio From £1,749.00

They also offer the Record label in a box which is a box full of what they claim to be everything you need to set up a record label fro the price of €129.

Check out the video below to find out more.

Authors View

Ditto has helped major artists like Ed Sheeran and Royal Blood to break into the big time.

They offer a multitude of services but when it comes to selling your music online they offer unlimited distribution for €19/yr which is cheaper than Distrokid although there are numerous hidden fees.

Ditto gives you the chance to distribute your music and take advantage of their promotional and marketing services as you grow as and helps you get to the next level. 

Brief Introduction 

Symphonic Distribution is a digital music distribution company launched in late 2006 by Jorge Brea, a former music producer from Tampa, Florida.

Symphonic Distribution delivers music from independent record labels and musicians to online retailers such as Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Napster, Deezer, Pandora, Amazon, and Beatport

Artists Who Use(d) The Platform

Duki, Amon Tobin, Steel Pulse, Calma Carmona, Wildways.

We’re looking for high-quality music from emerging and established artists and labels that moves us.

Symphonic

What Do They offer

  • Digital distribution to hundreds of DSPs and nearly every territory in the world
  • Robust platform to access monthly payments, reporting, and streaming analytics
  • Consideration for playlist pitching and marketing by our expert, in-house team
  • Access to powerful marketing tools and platforms
  • Promo mailer and other powerful marketing platforms
  • Extensive databases of best practices, in-depth articles, and more

What Do They Say

Symphonic is a 100% independent company offering full-service distribution, marketing, royalty collection, and more for record labels, artists, managers, and distributors.

Cost

15% of your royalties. If you want to monetise your Soundcloud page or your Youtube channel that will cost you 30% of your royalties.

Pros

  • They distribute to Beatport
  • No yearly fees
  • Inhouse playlist pluggers
  • Collect SoundExchange revenue for you
  • Helpful blog
  • Playlists

Cons

  • 15% commission
  • No automatic payment splitting
  • No Spotify or Amazon trending reports
  • Invite only

Extras

Symphonic Distribution is the owner of the entertainment brand NoisePorn, an electronic music blog and magazine

As well as selling your music online, they also offer a marketing service where you can get access to high-quality branding, creative design, release design packages.

Likewise, video design, digital marketing, advertising, playlist pitching, video optimization and more services that will help you market across a constantly evolving market.

Additionally, you can earn revenue from YouTube Content ID, your YouTube Channel, and your Soundcloud profile while ensuring your copyrights are protected.

Authors View

You do not simply signup to Symphonic and start distributing. You have to fill in an application form and then if all goes well, you will be invited to use its services.

It's basically a job interview for music distribution. They do offer extra services like marketing but they do charge for the privilege. 

bandcamp-logo-selling-your-music-online

A Brief Introduction

Bandcamp is an American online music company founded in 2008 by former Oddpost co-founder Ethan Diamond and programmers Shawn Grunberger, Joe Holt and Neal Tucker, headquartered in Oakland, California.

 

Artists who use the platform

Amanda Palmer, Shakey Graves.

 

Shakey Graves said in an interview that he used to let fans pay what they want.

 

He said although some fans would py the bare minimum if anything at all, a lot of fans would pay $10, $20, $50, so it would balance itself out.

It's not only artists are utilising this platform to sell their music online but record companies such as SubPop and Relapse Records have set up Bandcamp pages.

To boot, several indie game developers have published their game soundtracks on Bandcamp including the creators of Plants Vs Zombies and Super Meat Boy

(Source Wikipedia)

 

What do they offer?

Artists and labels upload music to Bandcamp and control how they sell it, setting their own prices, offering fans the option to pay more (which they do 50% of the time).

Uploading music to Bandcamp is free, and the company takes a 15% cut of sales made from their website (in addition to payment processing fees), which drops to 10% after an artist's sales surpass $5000.

What do they say?

Fans have paid artists $427 million using Bandcamp, and $8.3 million in the last 30 days alone.

You have a lot more control over your music on Bandcamp.

Fans can download their purchases or stream their music on the Bandcamp app. They can also send purchased music as a gift,[9] view lyrics, and save individual songs or albums to a wish list.

Cost

Free to sign-Up

Bandcamp takes 15% of your commission.

Pro Version: A monthly fee

Extras

Bandcamp Daily is an online music production which offers articles about their artists.

This is a great way for fans to come across new music and a great way for bands to make new fans.

Bandcamp Pro

The Pro service offers several additional features, including batch upload for queueing up an entire album’s worth of material at a time, private streaming for giving the press exclusive access to unreleased tracks and albums.

As well as that, they offer ad-free video hosting for presenting your videos in brilliant quality side-by-side with your music.

Merchandise, custom domains for a touch of added professionalism, and deeper stats including Google Analytics integration and the location of paying fans down to the city.

Pros

  • It's free to sign up
  • You can sell CD's, Vinyl and Merch from your Bandcamp Store.
  • Fans can Pre-order or add to their Wishlist
  • Real-time statistics and chart positions
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Artist recommendation feature
  • Submits your sales to the charts around the world.

Cons

  • You can only sell your music online through their platform. (They don't distribute your music to 3rd party companies)
  • Limited to 200 free codes for downloading music. You can earn more fro 1c-3c or earn more by generating more sales (every $500 in sales).

Authors View

Bandcamp is more of an all in one platform for artists, where fans can not only purchase your music but access information on the artist such as biographies and upcoming tours.

Also, they can access social media and merchandising links.

You can customise your page and it's features to make your brand instantly recognisable.

Brief Introduction

Bandzoogle was founded in 2003 by musician Chris Vinson[7] who had built a website for his alt-rock band, Rubberman.

Grassroots promotion, plus the online community that the website created helped the band get a record deal. Vinson subsequently launched Bandzoogle and is now its CTO.

(Source, Wikipedia)

Artists who use the platform

Moonfruits, Fox & Bones, Lovers and poets and Attaboy.

“We've used Bandzoogle for years for a reason. Incredible musician-minded features and tools, complete control of our site, and excellent customer support top the very long list.”
Attaboy

 

What do they offer?

Bandzoogle is an all in one hub for musicians. You can build, manage, and promote your music and website straight from your Bandzoogle account.

Additionally, they create electronic press kits for you to share with media and the industry.

Furthermore, it includes a built-in store, mailing list tools, reporting and integration with social networks and services, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp and SoundCloud

What do they say?

Bandzoogle websites feature selling tools made to help you earn more revenue as an artist. Sell directly to fans on your own terms, with no commission on sales.

They claim to have collected $56, 777, 963 in commission-free sales and counting.

37,000 musicians and bands use Bandzoogle.

 

Cool Feature

In 2019, Bandzoogle created a crowdfunding preset that allows similar services to PledgeMusic with payments going directly from fans to the artist. 

Cost

bandzoogle-pricing

Extra 

Features such as selling tickets from your Bandzoogle site and Album pre-orders are only available in the pro-version.

If you want to personalise your site a bit more you will have to dig a little deeper into your pockets to access custom fonts and video headers.

In addition, inventory tracking and code downloads are only available in the pro-version, which are both essential features if your selling music or merch online.

Pros

  • Mailing lists
  • Press Kits
  • Easily Integrate Social Media sites with your website.
  • Easily set up payment methods through Stripe and PayPal.
  • Great customer support.

Cons

  • Doesn't distribute to major streaming sites.
  • If it went out of business in the morning you will lose everything.
  • Monthly fees
  • You have to go pro to unlock extra features.

Authors View

All in all, Bandzoogle is the full package. There are different options available to you, ranging from bands that are starting out to fully the established.

It is quite easy to set up and updates your site automatically for you which cuts out some of the headaches.

My only problem with is that you are using Bandzoogle for hosting your website, for your mailing list and selling your music online among other things.

If something does happen to Bandzoogle and it or one reason or another it stops existing, you will too. Well, online anyway.

Brief introduction

WordPress is an open-source Content Management System which was released in 2003. It has since grown to 60 million users in 2019.

That's 27.5% of all websites globally that use the platform. With an astonishing 50,000 new WordPress websites added daily it's popularity mirrors it's functionality.

 

Artists who use the platform

Jay Z, Beyonce and The Rolling Stones are just of the many Artists who use WordPress.

 

Fun Fact

All WordPress releases  are named after jazz musicians. WordPress 1.0 was named after Miles Davis and WordPress 4.6 was named after Pepper Adams.

 

What do they offer?

WordPress allows you to sell your music straight from your site. This allows you to keep 100% of the sales and have complete control over your music.

 

What do they say?

WordPress stats speak for themselves.

With over 50,000 free plugins on offer, there is quite literally a plugin for everything.

From plugins to help you with your transactions to plugin to showcase your music, you can turn your website into an online store in no time at all.

 

Cost

WordPress is free as our the majority of the plugins.

In saying that, you will have to pay for hosting your site which can cost as little as €3.95 a month.

Pros

  • Keep 100% of the sales
  • Have complete control over your music
  • It's open-source so it won't go out of business in the morning. 
  • Great community to assist you with any issues you may be experiencing on your site.

 

Cons

  • You will have to get people to your site to buy your music. With the likes of Spotify and Amazon, the listeners are already there.
  • It takes a bit of setting up.
  • A lot of maintenance involved.
  • You might have to do a crash course in SEO to get the most out of your site.

 

Authors View

Personally, I think you should be selling your music on your website as well as through a music distribution service. The more places you have it the more chances you have of making sales.

A website is a great way of building a community with your fans. Furthermore, you can sell packages that include Special editions and merch to boost sales.

Conclusion

The music distribution services I have covered today are all great in their own way of selling your music online.  

No one is right or wrong. Use this post as a guide to finding which one works best for you and the music you are producing.  

Additionally, selling your music on your website is a no-brainer really.

If you don't have a website already, check out my blog post 7 Reasons Every Musician Needs a Website to find out out how a website can benefit you. 

If you think this post would be of interest to someone you know, please go ahead and share.

Author: Baz McAuley

Badgrammrbaz.com - Independent marketing for independent musicians. 

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Baz McAuley

Baz McAuley, the founder of Badgrammrbaz.com, is an independent musician & digital marketer, specialising in music marketing and promotion.