How to publish music LEGALLY today
The world of music is a speeding bullet in regards to how music is ‘published’ today.
Streaming and downloads has completely changed the way ‘music’ is distributed to music listeners all over the world.
The main obstacle today is legally setting up distribution so the publisher and the artists are paid properly for not only ORIGINAL MUSIC but also ‘cover’ songs.
Bands and artists who have a ‘following’ can control what they make when the ‘playout’ that means publicly performing at shows or bars or whatever venue they ‘perform’ at.
Outside of a few huge companies that control major artists the 2nd and 3rd tier of ‘music publishing’ is mostly small or ‘indy’ labels that are all having major problems with LEGALLY distributing an artists work they ‘published’ and ensuring their artist are properly compensated when songs are streamed or downloaded from the new players in the world of music which are all major tech giants.
Apple controls not only iTunes but Apple Music and to get into iTunes LEGALLY an artist can do it themselves via an aggregator IF they still own rights to their work, or they have to rely on the ‘publisher’ of their rights if the song was covered under a recent contract that dealt with the modern ways music is distributed.
For over a century music has been sold as ‘records’ and today there is very little demand for a physical record. Decades ago music was marketed as CD’s and once again that physical format became obsolete for most new artists.
The game recently has been monetization from ‘Youtube’ channels and ads on ‘music videos’ and most major artists are now under the Vevo umbrella. Artists are all complaining about revenue from Youtube which is owned by tech giant GOOGLE the great evil empire IMO.
Most recently we have the new way music is being listened to and that is STREAMING. Google Music and Youtube Music are streams controlled by the evil empire GOOGLE. Another evil tech giant Microsoft has Groove and Apple still has iTunes and now their Streams are done via Apple Music.
The big music publishers all have their own distribution deals with the tech giants and a few smaller labels have their own direct deals with the big tech giants but now we have a whole new serpent prying on artists known as DIGITAL DISTRIBUTORS or AGGREGATORS.
I recently wasted a lot of VALUABLE TIME working with one of the supposedly larger digital aggregators that quite frankly advertised a deal that turned out to be too good to be true.
See my article about how DISTROKID SUCKS.
Until recently we never dabbled into the world of ‘cover songs’, the reason is ‘mechanical licensing’ of songs by original artists has always and will always be a HEADACHE.
Original music is clear cut, an artist creates ORIGINAL WORK and self publishes or has a publishing company (Label) publish it. The rights to it are clear. The main issues is tracking streams and downloads now and once again old world ‘publishers’ gave away the farm by giving tech giants their digital files. They all have lost control of the rights since none of the big tech companies have legitimate 3rd party verification of sales and streams just like print publishers lost control when they allowed Amazon to distribute their files. I have many articles about the fake numbers companies such as Amazon give to authors now.
The main problem with Music is unlike eBook publishing which any person can setup direct publishing accounts with both Amazon through Kindle and Apple through iTunes, the world of music is not as easy to ‘publish’ in.
Google Play store does allow artists to open a store or artist page and upload unlimited songs they created for a nominal fee. The problem is Amazon insists publishers use an ‘aggregator’ and that is where we ran into a problem with Distrokid, they stink see my article.
Amazon has a list of ‘recommended aggregators’ and of course Distrokid IS NOT ON THE LIST. Apple allows a larger publisher to have direct publishing accounts with them but then you need UPC and or other industry tracking numbers that cost money and the main hurdle is the demand that a ‘publisher’ have at least 20 albums in their ‘catalog’. We have quite a few albums but we don’t have 20 yet since we only deal with a couple of artists that have not produced that much music to date.
So that means we were forced to go the aggregator route.
Our first try was Distrokid and they SUCK.
As to who is a ‘good aggregator’? Well both Amazon and iTunes have lists of recommended companies that should do the job way better than Distrokid did. We went with Distrokid recently due to the fact one of our artists had created a LEGENDS Cover Album featuring them covering some of the greatest acts in Rock and Blues history. That was probably the main reason Distrokid failed as they did. They have a low ball cover song mechanics license fee for their users and obviously the covers we submitted with those fees prepaid gave issues to some of the stores that hate to let in covers due to the rigid mechanic licenses such music usually manifest needs for.
It appears that CD Baby and Tunecore may be the main aggregators at this point in time and then an artist would need to obtain a deal with a PRO organization, there are only a handful of major PRO’s the organizations that collect royalties from original music artists that actually write the scores of music. They track all public performances on radio and now streaming and get play fees for their artists. An artist selects what PRO they want to have chase down their radio royalties and both CD Baby and Tunecore offer those services for additional fees.
Bottom line is try to get a label to sign you so all this stuff is done by them so you can concentrate on making music and playing out and not dealing with companies over royalties yourself.
If you can’t get signed to a label then you need to go the route of an aggregator and do no use Distrokid since my experience with them was terrible.
Having your music live in a store means nothing really, since there is so much content now in stores, your work will be lost in the sea of songs that already exists.
The main hurdle for any artist is obtaining a following and that can now come without playing out due to sites such as Youtube and SoundCloud and other sites that cater to letting anyone create a ‘Free Account’ to show to the world what they can or cannot do in regards to making MUSIC.
Youtube is an abyss of covers and at least Youtube is now putting ads on covers from unknowns to try to collect some ad income to pay the original artists something.
Original artists can try to monetize a Youtube channel with original work but the ‘royalties’ are so small per 1,000 plays that unless you go viral you will not earn a living on Youtube.
Playing out, telling fans to go to your site so you can sell downloads direct or sell CD’s is probably the best route for unsigned artists and yet with so much music now being streamed and sold as downloads an artist should try to get into the big stores online and that means you need to invest $50 to $100 or so a year per CD you have rights to hoping to recoup the cost of using an aggregator back and make some money at least from your work.
Many artists do their craft not to make money and music is probably the worst paying gig around for an artist. So if you feel the need to sing to the world and have your work in big stores, expect to pay a minor sum each year to keep the music LIVE.