Category: Music Distribution

YouTube – How To Make It Work For You

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Three Steps To Improve Performance

This feels like old news, but it’s possible you haven’t heard. If you’re not leveraging YouTube to your advantage, you have a gap in your approach to music sales. Maybe you don’t want to make a living from your music or you love your day job. That’s fine. You can probably stop reading this now. Or maybe you already have hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Millions, even. You too may stop reading this. If neither of these exceptions apply to you, then settle in. Let’s talk The YouTube. *wink*

You live in a wondrous time! Just look at the Internet. It’s an amazing resource to the independent artist and band. The thing is you’re busy – out there pounding the pavement, rocking various houses night after night. But, ask any wildly successful artist. To make that dollar, you’re going to have to spend time, both on and off the stage to develop your fan base. (Unless you’re posting your performances. Then bully to you!) And in this day in which we live it’s now easier than ever to reach untapped fans via YouTube.

But first, the bad news: You won’t make any livable wage monetizing YouTube videos until you start raking in views in the hundreds of millions. Some sources report that YouTube pays $.0003 per play. This means that in order for you to pull in minimum wage you would have to have views in the tens of millions, depending on your state’s minimum wage. So that’s the bummer. But, the good news is that you don’t have to rely solely on monetization to make YouTube work for you. There are lots of examples of bands and artists (and puppeteers and style gurus and… you get the idea) who have used streaming video to get their names out there and launch their careers onto other more lucrative platforms. Remember, if you’re trying to make a living from you music, you’re not just a musician. You’re in music business. Time to get savvy. Here are a few ways to yield desirable results from YouTube.

Invite your viewers to take it to the next level and subscribe.

Make no mistake. Gathering subscribers is important. Create your channel, make delightful viewing material and call your viewers to action by encouraging them to subscribe. (Just don’t expect to make noticeable amounts of money directly from YouTube doing this.) You have to say the words too. Here’s why: In most cases, people hear about a great video. They go watch the video. They move on with their day. The end. Don’t let this be your viewers. At the end of your video, thank them for watching and then say, “subscribe!” It’s that simple. You could add a please for good measure. Or confetti. Do you, but say the words.

Invite them to your website so they can buy your stuff.

Every subscriber you procure is now your fan. They have taken time to subscribe and this means they like you. Congratulations! Now it’s time to tell them how they can listen to your awesome music wherever they go, by driving them to your website or digital storefront to buy tracks they can’t get on YouTube. You may want to incentify people to subscribe by giving them a coupon code to save a dollar off your album (which is sold only on your website or Amazon, right?). Or maybe YouTube subscribers get access to extra video content or mp3 tracks that your average schmo can’t get. Hock your interesting and hilarious t-shirts and bumper stickers by sending these captive fans to your shop. Your subscribers will not necessarily arrive at the brilliant decision to visit your website. You must invite them to do so.

Make lots of interesting content. Lots!

Here’s the deal. There are many reasons to have a prolific amount of content. One of the reasons is this: the more you’re out there, the more you increase your chances of getting subscribers. You’ll reach people you wouldn’t normally have access to through other outlets – especially younger music fans. YouTube is the most listened to music platform. The most! Gathering more fans from the juggernaut of all music conduits can help you completely bypass a music label – like so many other successful musicians have – and allow you to do music on your own terms. Or maybe you want a music contract. Perfect! Having a huge number of subscribers can only help your cause. Having a large subscriber following also means drawing the attention of potential sponsors. YouTubers who have been successful at accumulating lots of subscribers have definitely grabbed the attention of sponsors. These sponsors can pay thousands of dollars for one video that includes a mention or placement of their product. This is not a farfetched pipe-dream, either. Sponsors are well within reach. It’s hard work, of course. Nothing worth doing will ever come easy. (Sorry.) But, the rewards include garnering a larger fan base and getting to make a living from your music and videos.

So now that you know why tons of content is a must, let’s talk about what you should post. Your video subject matter should be as diverse as you and you’re music, but you don’t have to over think everything you post. Sometimes these videos are just something fun – a day-in-the-life bit or a tutorial of some kind. I can hear some of your eyes rolling right now as you read this. This may feel beneath you or pandering, even. But, try to keep an open mind about this. It’s not selling out. You’re not giving into the man. You’re dominating various digital avenues so that they work for you. Think groceries and rent – and beyond! You’re not giving in. You’re making the Internet your bitch. So get creative. By all means, post your music and your shows and your time in the studio. But, also keep in mind that people will be endeared to you by getting to see behind the proverbial curtain a bit. Talk to your fans and let them see your fun side. Cover your favorite popular songs. Reveal to them your stupid human trick. Do skits. Get viewers to vote on which guitar strap or pair of skinny jeans you’ll wear at your next performance. Video your band’s trust exercises or day of water skiing. Whatever. You’re imaginative. Just give the fans what they want and make lots and lots of content.

There’s another perk of posting tons of videos. If you haven’t created a YouTube channel or your haven’t been posting very much, creating a lot of content will also help fast track the process of gathering subscribers and getting noticed by sponsors. And bonus, the more momentum you pick up, the more monetizing your content will pay. Again, not lucrative amounts, but it’s better than nothing.

It’s time – your time. Start using YouTube like the music business tool it is.

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How to Add Your Music to Gracenote in 5 Easy Steps

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Here’s the scenario: Your fan just bought a CD at a show. They are so excited to listen to it that they immediately take it out of the package and put it into the CD player in their car. After having it in their car for a few weeks, they finally decide to take it inside and add your music to their iTunes library. They put the CD into their computer, and iTunes pops up to import it. But no track or artist information is listed.  Unfortunately, they left the CD packaging in the car and don’t remember all the titles to your songs. They still import it, but your music gets moved down to the bottom of the their music library, with no way to distinguish it from all the other annoying untitled tracks.

This is a problem that can be easily solved. Gracenote is a music recognition service that is employed by many major music retailers and other music services to provide metadata about music files.

Metadata is data about other data. It seems complicated, but actually it’s pretty simple. If you have an mp3 file (the original data), the metadata (data about the original data) might include the artist name, track name, album name, genre, or even the album artwork.

It’s important to have this metadata attached to your files so that you music can be recognized easily, and Gracenote is the most widely used way to make this data available.

Getting Your Music To Gracenote

The great thing about Gracenote is that it is really simple. There are two ways to add your music to their database.

Digital Distribution

If you are distributing your music digitally, Gracenote might be included in your distribution pack. This is the most convenient way to upload your metadata, because your distributor already has all the information.

Major online distributors like TuneCore, and CD Baby (Gracenote is included in their Mega Distribution bundle) will add your metadata information when you upload your files. As long as you entered all the information correctly when you submitted your music, all your metadata information will be correct.

Manually Entering Information

If you are not using an aggregator that automatically uploads metadata to Gracenote, don’t worry. Entering your metadata is an incredibly easy process.

Step One: Simply put your CD into your computer, or upload an mp3 into your iTunes library. However, if you just upload an mp3, make sure it is a finished—hopefully mastered—product, because Gracenote uses the duration of your songs to recognize them in iTunes.Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 11.33.47 AM

Step Two: Gracenote might show you a fuzzy matches dialog box of albums that could be matches. Close this box if it pops up.

Step Three: Right click on one of the track names and choose the option “Get Info.”Get Info

Step Four: Enter all the information for each song exactly as you want the metadata to appear. Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 10.59.02 AM

Step Five: If you are using the latest version of iTunes, there will be a button on the right that says “Options.” Click this button and choose  “Submit CD Track Names…”Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 10.56.24 AM

A dialog box to choose a genre will pop up if the genre you have currently selected is not supported by Gracenote.

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 11.00.10 AM

Click the submit button, wait 2-3 days and then insert your CD again. Your metadata will either be automatically entered, or you will choose from a list of albums that exactly match the duration of each of your songs. Mine only had one other exact match, so it was easy for me (and my fans!) to find the correct information.Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 11.00.34 AM

If you have any more questions, or your metadata hasn’t appeared after a few days, you can visit Gracenote’s official site to get some help.

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How Much Does Pandora Pay Artists?

How Much Does Pandora Pay Artists?

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

It’s probably much less than you think. And if Pandora has its way, that paycheck is about to get even smaller.

Last week, Pandora was given approval to purchase KXMZ-FM, a terrestrial radio station in Rapid City, South Dakota. They are now under a 90-day trial period before the purchase becomes final. Currently, Pandora has millions of online subscribers who create customized stations based on their own music preferences, so their purchase of a small station in a city of 60,000 people may seem like a move backwards, but it’s a strategic move by Pandora to make more money.

Unfortunately, Pandora’s move to line their pockets means a significant pay cut for the artists and songwriters who make Pandora’s business possible.

How Artists Are Paid

The ways that radio and streaming services pay artists are a complicated mess of numbers and percentages, but it all boils down to this: terrestrial radio stations pay a lower rate than internet stations to play the same songs over the internet.

With Pandora’s current rate system, if you are the writer and performer of the song, you will make about $1.30 if your song is played 1000 times. Unless you are Katy Perry or Drake, you probably won’t even make enough money to buy yourself lunch. It would take years for the average independent musician to simply break even on the costs of producing and distributing their music with the payments that are currently made for streaming music.

With their purchase of KXMZ, Pandora will be eligible for the lower rate currently available for terrestrial radio stations. This means they will be paying about a half-million dollars less in royalties to songwriters every year. Pandora’s purchase of KXMZ is great news for Pandora’s stockholders, but no matter which way you look at it, it’s bad news for the artists, performers, and musicians who make business possible for Pandora.

What This Means For Musicians and the Music Industry

In the larger view of Pandora’s profits, the reduced royalty rate is a drop in the bucket. But even a drop makes a ripple in the bigger scheme of what is currently going on in the music industry. Pandora claims that they value the artists who make their company function, but according to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Producers (ASCAP), their purchase of KXMZ is “a transparent ploy squarely aimed at paying songwriters even less for online music streams.”

It’s worth noting that Pandora is not the first company to take advantage of this lower rate. iHeartRadio works in the same way that Pandora does, but iHeartRadio is owned by Clear Channel, an industry giant in terrestrial radio. Because of this, iHeartRadio can take advantage of the lower streaming rates. Pandora’s purchase of an FM station levels the playing field between these two competitors, and it’s likely that other internet radio and streaming services will follow in Pandora’s footsteps.

Moreover, the government is looking at decisions like this as it revises copyright laws.

We are in a crossroads in the industry. The payment system for creators is broken, and no one is completely sure when it’s going to be fixed. Though you may think Pandora’s decisions won’t affect you, a company as large as Pandora actively working to compensate creators less is something that everyone in the music industry should be concerned about. And while this change may not have a huge effect on your individual paychecks, the implications of this decision are enormous.

What You Should—and Can—Do

So if you’ve realized that you’re not going to make a million dollars on Pandora, or even enough money to pay your rent, what do you do? Should you just take your music off all streaming platforms and cut your losses?

I think there is a better way. By simply changing your perspective on streaming services, there are ways that independent musicians can make platforms like Pandora work for them.

Instead of thinking about Pandora and Spotify as distribution services, think of them as marketing tools. Listeners use streaming services to discover new music, and you don’t want to cut yourself off from those potential fans. Put a couple of your best songs up—not your entire catalogue—and use it as a way for people to discover your music. Once your music has piqued their interest, they will likely search the internet to see what else you have available.

What Else You Can Do

You’re game for using streaming and online internet to market to new audiences… but how can you turn a casual streamer into a devoted fan? You have to engage them (on your turf) with good content.

Your website is the only place online where you have complete control over what a potential fan sees. Use that control!

Design a website that reflects your music and your brand and makes it easy for your fans to be connected with you. Keep it updated with relevant news and content. Offer a free single in exchange for their email address. Show them how they can become a patron of your music. (Haven’t heard of patronage? Sign up here for more info!) Above all, do not rely on social media and third-party retailers to keep in touch with your fans.

The music industry is changing. Pandora’s purchase of a terrestrial radio station is just a small battle in the grand scheme of an entire industry that is in the process of completely renewing itself. Independent musicians are the future of that industry. Now, more than ever, you have the opportunity to take control over your career. And that is good news.

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Spotify, Pandora and Streaming Music: Should You Post Your Music?

Spotify, Pandora and Streaming Music: Should You Post Your Music?

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

How charitable are you feeling?

You see, neither Spotify nor Pandora is making any money, and they could really use a little bit of yours. So, if you are feeling charitable and believe in their cause, sign right up, and let the giving begin!

If you heard the real numbers, though, you might change your mind about that donation. They’re quite staggering. Pandora’s stock price has tripled in the last 12 months, and they have a stock market valuation of over $7 billion dollars. At the same time, they have yet to create a profit. Spotify has not yet gone public, but it is anticipated to do so in the near future. Initial estimates put Spotify’s valuation at close to $10 billion dollars.

Don’t feel sorry for them, though. This is the new model for becoming a Wall Street darling. In effect, both of these companies have created a business model that offers a great product to music fans but fails to charge those fans a reasonable amount for the experience. Therefore, the companies lose money. Then, they use their losses as an excuse to pay musicians virtually nothing for their music. By the way, the best music streaming interface in the world is useless if it has no music to play.

These companies might feel that they cannot get fans to pay a fair amount for streaming music—probably a correct assumption, by the way—so instead they offer it for free and let the musician pay for it, not the listener. Sound crazy? Some people would argue that the listener pays by listening to commercials, or by paying a fee to hear commercial-free music. But, if you examine the pitiful payout that musicians receive, it will become clear who is footing the bill.

Somewhere along the way, the indie music community bought into the idea that streaming music is a good thing. After all, can’t a person listen to traditional (terrestrial) radio for free? How could streaming be any different? The answers are both subtle and significant.

Traditional Radio vs. Streaming

In the past, when we heard music on traditional radio and really liked it, off to the music store we would go. Why? We wanted control over our listening. A listener has no control whatsoever of what plays on traditional radio. The most they can do is change the station. Purchasing the music allowed us to control how often we were able to listen to it.

Streaming changed this. With streaming, there is no reason to purchase the music. On Pandora, users have substantial control because they can use the tools that Pandora provides to tailor the station to fit their taste. With Spotify, the listener has complete control. Play what you want, how you want it, when you want it, and as often or little as you like. This is nothing like traditional radio.

What’s worse is that traditional radio stations are jumping on the streaming bandwagon, just like everyone else. Platforms like iHeartRadio have the potential to be just as damaging to musicians as any other music streaming services. Don’t get us wrong; we are in favor of listening to traditional radio stations online; however, we are not in favor of traditional radio stations streaming music self-crafted to anyone’s personal listening preferences.

Worse still is this: Pandora is making the case with Congress to lower payments to musicians. Pandora says they cannot compete with terrestrial radio because radio pays a lower royalty. In fact, Pandora is asking for legislation that lowers their payments by 50% or more. This is ridiculous! Traditional radio and music streaming are two entirely different things.

Let’s call streaming music what it really is: a financial failure. Generally, when a business model fails because it is not financially viable, the business closes and declares bankruptcy. The only way that streaming music survives is if someone picks up the financial shortfall; right now, that someone is the musician.

What Does This Mean To You As A Musician?

A streaming music company’s success is realized at the expense of the musicians who unwittingly contribute to the corporate craziness with their music and receive very little in return. As a musician, the best move you can make is to put money in the stock market and invest in Pandora stock (Spotify, too, when it’s available). You should not contribute your unique sound to their portfolio of music.

Let us tell you why: if companies like Pandora and Spotify continue to make it big, you will not receive any of the benefits, and they will ruin the music business. Sure, they offer to expose you to large numbers of people who will listen to your music. But at what cost?

Some musicians believe using these companies results in additional sales of their music along with increased exposure, which is ultimately good for their careers. We believe this to be far from the truth. Our own experiences seem to demonstrate the complete opposite of these claims.

Confessions Of A Streaming Junkie

When we play music on Pandora, we enjoy the experience. Their technology does a nice job of playing music that we like, and it comes up with new artists that we have never heard of before. We have no control over who plays next, but we can select an artist or song that we want Pandora to consider when choosing what music to play. It also allows us to skip a song, hit thumbs up, hit thumbs down, etc. The software learns more about what we like and makes adjustments to better fit our listening style. All good, so far. (Good for users, that is).

This is what makes Pandora so compelling. Free music that is tailored to our listening tastes is much better than a traditional radio station! In fact, if we are willing to invest just $0.10 per day (that’s 10 cents), we can get the music without any commercials. Wow, what a deal!

Spotify is a little different. It offers more overall functionality through its apps, artist radio, library function, messaging, etc. The biggest difference for users is that they can create playlists and choose exactly what they want to listen to. Spotify will also make artist recommendations, but not in the same way as Pandora. Spotify offers a free service for a limited time but you can pay just $0.334 per day (that’s 33.4 cents) to get full access without commercials. Some people we know, in an effort to avoid paying anything, keep signing up for the 30-day free trial after the initial trial period expires by using a new email address. Spotify also lets paying users download playlists to listen to offline.

Truthfully, both services are great for the listener, and that is what makes them so popular. Several other streaming services are also available that offer similar features. Every one of them is focused on the listener experience, and most do an acceptable job. This is where the problems begin for musicians. Fans love these products for what they offer: your music the way they want it. Most importantly, it’s free (or almost free) and it enhances the listener experience.

Since we began using streaming services, our purchases of music have dropped considerably. In fact, we no longer open iTunes to listen to our library of music. There is no need. Why would we do that when we can access everything we want on a streaming player? Plus, the players offer features that iTunes does not. (While we might be unique, our conversations with others suggest that we aren’t the exception.)

The Tale Of The Tape

An artist friend of ours recently showed us her statement of income from digital streaming services. Over the past 12 months, she had a total of 14,932 streaming downloads and was paid $71.02. This is an average of $0.004756 per stream.

During the same period, she sold 2,200 CDs at her gigs. The income from the CD sales was $20,300.00. It is only fair to note that she had to pay something for the CDs to be manufactured, but that cost was only $2,046.00, making her net income from the CD sales $18,254.00.

In addition to the sales of physical CDs at gigs, our friend did have some sales from digital downloads of music on iTunes. iTunes is her only way to sell digital downloads; because she mentions it frequently at her shows, she believes that most of her sales on iTunes come from people who attend her shows. For the same period that we mentioned above, her album sales on iTunes were 113 albums for a total of $668.57.

Let’s run those numbers. She made 257 times more money selling CDs at her gigs than she did with streaming her music. That’s impressive… or, it might be more appropriate to say that the streaming income was dismal. Either way, she would not have survived without the physical CD sales at gigs. (She also made money on other merchandise sales and a fee from doing the gig, but we are not including that income in our example.) She could have gone to the gigs and not sold any product, but who would choose to do that?

You might make the argument that she had to gig to sell physical CDs, whereas with streaming services you don’t have to do anything other than sign up, and you would be mostly correct, but…

We want you to consider one thing: the expense to create quality music is significant. Even if you do not place a value on the time it takes to write music, write lyrics, practice, etc., the production costs are still high. (Just for the record: we think you should consider all time and effort necessary to produce your music. Even if you don’t write yourself a check for your time, it doesn’t mean it’s free.)

It would be fair to say that a solo indie artist could easily spend $3,000 to $5,000—excluding the cost of CDs or paying other artists—to produce one album, if they stayed on a tight, tight budget. How do the numbers work? Let’s suppose you spend $3,000 to produce your album and then posted it with several music streaming companies. If you used our artist friend as a test case, it would take 40+ years just to recoup your initial investment. Even if you are an incredible success and experience 10 times as much play as she did, it would still take more than 4 years to get your investment back. That’s 630,782 streaming plays just to break even. Of course, you haven’t made any money yet.

So, What Can Artists Do?

Clearly, streaming music complicates things, and it’s not the best business plan for an independent musician to adopt. If you feel that streaming is a necessary part of your music marketing plan, then try posting just a single song or a small sampling of your work. Hopefully, this will help you gain exposure with a larger audience, who will then purchase your music.

Is the future of the indie music business bleak? Absolutely not. There is a great deal more to it than streaming downloads. The future holds great promise, and as an artist you have to be prepared to grab it. For indie artists, the biggest challenge remains the same: how do you, as an independent artist, build a sustainable career?

 We’ll continue addressing that question in future articles.

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SongCast: Selling Your Music

Selling Your Music: SongCast

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

With digital music retailers often requiring the use of music distributors or music aggregators, these third party companies are becoming an almost-necessary element in an independent musician’s sales strategy. With many distributors to choose from, selecting the best option for you has never been easier (or harder, depending on how you look at it). In this article, we’ll cover SongCast, one of the digital music distribution options available.

What SongCast Offers

For starters, see if you recognize any of these music retailers: iTunes, Google Play, AmazonMP3, Rhapsody, Spotify, MediaNet, Emusic. SongCast partners with all of them. The service provides access to sales reports for each retail platform, including iTunes Daily Trending Data, to let you to see where your music is selling best.

With its Music Page feature, SongCast offers integration with social media. You can feature your music on your Facebook profile, add purchase buttons, build a mailing list, and post a calendar of upcoming shows.

SongCast’s Indie Artist Radio Network puts your music on multiple networks, including iTunes Radio. The Indie Radio App (for Facebook) allows subscribers to discover new artists, share their favorite tracks with friends, create playlists, and message the artist directly. Participating artists can see who is listening to them and where, which songs are being tagged on lists, and so much more. This service is in addition to the distribution service, and it costs $7.99 per track per month.

Making Money From SongCast

As a SongCast artist, you retain 100 percent of all royalties on digital music, as well as 35 percent on CDs sold through Amazon Disc-On-Demand.

SongCast’s Costs

SongCast charges monthly membership dues of $5.99. To add product for distribution, members pay a single up-front fee of either $9.99 per single or $19.99 per album.

Signing Up For SongCast

Signing up is easy, although a little preparation is required. SongCast will ask you for your album’s title and the titles of all the tracks on it. It will then prompt you to upload album cover art in the form of a 1400 x 1400 pixel JPG, PNG, or GIF file. Uploading the music is next. SongCast takes care of file conversion for you. With many retailers requiring different formats, this conversion service is a huge time-saver.

SongCast’s Customer Support

Customer/user support is solid. If you can’t find your answer in any one of the pages of tutorials, FAQ, or their knowledgebase, you can file a support ticket through the site. There’s even a separate address for inquiries you might have before creating an account.

So, the verdict? SongCast offers a hassle-free music distribution venue that won’t break the bank. Without worries, you can feel freer than ever to share with the world.

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Selling and Streaming Your Music with iTunes and iTunes Radio

iTunes and iTunes Radio: Selling and Streaming Your Music

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Making your band’s music available for purchase online—either in digital or physical form, through your website or on one of your various profiles—is an important step to take if you want to continue your music career.

If a fan really digs your sound, they will do whatever it takes to get your music—even if it means going to some odd site they’ve never heard of to access your music. However, casual listeners are another story; if they don’t find your music available on their preferred channels (like iTunes), they might not buy it at all. Being available on those preferred platforms can mean the difference between making a sale and losing a potential fan.

About iTunes

In case you haven’t heard of it (ha!), iTunes is the largest digital music store online. It set the standard for digital music distribution and is so far ahead of its competitors that “competitor” might be an overstatement. As iTunes is the most commonly looked-to place to purchase music, it should not be dismissed or regarded lightly.

In addition to music sales, iTunes also offers streaming music with iTunes Radio. We do not recommend listing all of your music on iTunes Radio, there are several issues with streaming music that make it difficult for indie musicians to succeed with these services. A sampling of your music might be a good idea. Check out our article on streaming music for more information. Users can create stations based on music they like or have downloaded, and iTunes fine tunes the stations based on future listening and download patterns. iTunes Radio also offers featured stations. Users can listen to iTunes Radio on their mobile device, computer, tablet, or Apple TV for free.

Putting Your Music on iTunes

There are two routes you can take to get your music listed on iTunes: you can work with an aggregator, or you can apply to list it yourself. A list of approved aggregators can be found here; there are pros about working with an aggregator, but there are also drawbacks (see below). If you want to avoid aggregators, you can apply to work directly with iTunes. The criteria, such as encoding houses and content requirements, are specific, so be sure you have everything lined up and ready to go before applying.


In terms of earning money from music sales, iTunes operates similar to other sites. For each song sold, you receive a percentage of the sale price. In theory, you should be making some profit from the streamed content; however, those details are not easily found on the iTunes website. You can make more money by selling your music on your own website, but iTunes offers a good place to go for fans who may not know where your site is, so do not ignore it. (For more information, see this article about iTunes on our site.)


There is no cost for listing your music on iTunes, although there may be fees assessed by the aggregator you choose. Instead, you pay iTunes by receiving a reduced portion of the sales price. When a song is sold, iTunes takes its percentage (usually around 25-30 percent). Then, the aggregator takes its percentage, and you get what’s left.

Ease of Use

While the math and forms and requirements for signing up yourself seem daunting, with a bit of research and reading they are very doable. Other than that, it takes patience; the process is not guaranteed to be quick.

Using an aggregator may or may not make the process easier.


You can email Apple for help, and they have an extensive FAQ section. However, their phone tree is very complicated, and connecting with a person is difficult. Aggregators may or may not be easier to work with.

A Final Word

Choosing to put your music on iTunes is a big decision; it should not be made lightly or without thorough consideration. For additional information, please read our related article, Rethinking iTunes.

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Selling Your Music: MondoTunes

Selling Your Music: MondoTunes

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

If you’re new to online music distribution, you’ll sooner or later face the daunting task of having to choose the right music distributor. Because you have enough on your plate, here’s a basic rundown of one your options: MondoTunes.

What MondoTunes Offers

With claims of distribution to over 750 online stores, it’s certainly an impressive option. Their global distribution service uses Universal Music Group, the same company used by Rihanna, Lady Gaga, U2, and others. Additionally, MondoTunes has associations with Interscope Records, which helps major labels scout new talent. MondoTunes is the only distributor that provides an exclusive online marketing campaign for its artists. Licensing is also available.

Making Money From MondoTunes

As for profits, artists can expect to retain somewhere around 63 percent of sales. MondoTunes doesn’t take a dime, but their partners do. Nevertheless, that royalty rate still beats the ones offered by major labels.

Payments are issued monthly as long as net royalties are $50 or more. If royalties do not hit the $50 threshold, the amount is carried over to the following month. If these profit and payment policies seem a bit strict, it’s important to realize that the site is highly competitive.

How Much Does MondoTunes Cost?

There are no monthly or annual fees and no “per-store” listing fees. At $7.99 per single, $24.99 per EP, and $37.99 per album, Mondo’s pricing is pretty competitive.

Signing Up for MondoTunes

The site is fairly easy to navigate. On the home page, click the red “Join Us” button. Fill in a basic registration form (name, number, email, password) and prove you’re not a robot. You’ve created your account! The next step is uploading your final audio and artwork files. Under the option Distribution, click “Get Started”; select the services you want and how you want to get paid, then upload your artwork, song information, and content.

Getting Help with MondoTunes

MondoTunes’ customer support is also impressive. The company offers same-day email support as well as phone support, which is something of a rarity these days.

Music distribution shouldn’t be about choosing the lesser of two (or more) evils. It should be about finding a company that understands and meets your band’s needs. The fact that MondoTunes was put together by musicians can only help its case.

Have you worked with MondoTunes? How was your experience?

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Protecting Your Music from Illegal Use or Distribution

Protecting Your Music from Illegal Use or Distribution

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Musicians need to worry about a lot of things: protecting their gear, booking more gigs, connecting with fans, writing music, recording music, whether or not to pursue deals with record labels, and so on. Sadly, one of the biggest issues that affects all musicians at some point is illegal music distribution.

When To Worry About Illegal Distribution

If you are an up-and-coming artist, you might not be worried about illegal music distribution. You might reason that people playing your songs, even if they’re doing it illegally, is a good thing. This attitude, while somewhat understandable, can hurt you in the long run. If you’re a more-established artist who has recorded music and is making money, you’re likely going to be worried about illegal distribution.

Regardless of the stage you’re at, if you find your music being misused or unlawfully distributed, you should be concerned and act on it. Acting swiftly is key to preventing further illegal distribution, so knowing your options ahead of time is a good idea.

How Do You Track Illegal Distribution?

Well, you could spend your free time scouring the internet for illegal uses. Or, you could use a service that alerts you when your band/songs/albums appear. Google Alerts will send you emails anytime your designated keywords appear online, but this still requires sifting through legitimate versus illegal activity.

Another method for tracking illegal use is Topple Track. This service offers perpetual protection for illegal use anywhere online. It provides musicians with detailed reports, and verified problems are handled in as little as 24 hours. Pricing for this service ranges based on how many songs you want covered. For only one or two songs, coverage is $7 per song. For more than ten songs, it costs as little as $3 per song. Either way, you have ongoing protection for a very reasonable fee.

Your Options

If you use ToppleTrack, the company will work to remove the offensive uses for you. If you’ve gone another route, you have a few options:

  • You can shut your eyes, put your fingers in your ears, sing at the top of your lungs, and ignore it. (We don’t recommend this option.)
  • You can contact the offenders directly and ask that they remove and cease the illegal usage. (It might work, it might not.)
  • If you’re a member of a PRO, they might be able to step in, either advising you with courses of action or acting on your behalf.
  • You could have a lawyer step in and contact the offenders.

When contacting offenders, you can simply ask that they remove the illegal content, or you could ask for reimbursement (following standard licensing fees for use or using retail prices if the music was shared or downloaded). Lawsuits might not win you popularity, but they could help you recover the money you lost and prevent future losses.

Keeping guard over illegal music distribution is something that all musicians in this day and age need to be aware of. A service like Topple Track helps keep an ever-vigilant eye open for you and your work.

Has your music been illegally distributed? How did you discover the illegal use, and how did you address the issue?

See also: Copyright Your Music: The Why and How, Music and Royalties: What You Should KnowThe Why and How of Music Licensing

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Selling Your Music with Bandcamp

Selling Your Music: Bandcamp

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Coming up next on “Painfully Obvious Observations”: the digital age has transformed the music industry… It’s true, though. And, as the industry continues to transform, more and more artists are turning toward selling music online. One major destination for those artists is Bandcamp.

What Bandcamp Offers

Bandcamp makes it possible for artists to sell their music and other merchandise online. You’re able to control the pricing, sell digital and physical music, report sales to SoundScan, offer discount codes, sell on Facebook, gather fan/customer data, and much more.

Making Money From Bandcamp

Bandcamp is based around the philosophy that money should flow toward the artist. You set the prices on all of your merchandise, and the money goes directly to you (not third parties).

“Great,” we hear you say, “but how on earth do they stay in business?” The answer to that question is that Bandcamp takes a small share of your sales: 15% on music, 10% on merchandise. It’s a pretty good deal, compared to the 75 percent (or more, if you’re not Usher) that you’d have to hand over to a major label. To sweeten the deal, Bandcamp will drop their revenue share to 10 percent once you reach $5,000 in sales.

What Does Bandcamp Cost?

If it’s sounding pretty good so far, it stays that way. Basic artist accounts are free. If you want to upgrade to the pro account (which lets you use a custom domain name, upload in batches, and so on), that’s only $10 a month. Not a bad deal.

As far as paying royalties, the Bandcamp method is a little different than other sites. Instead of subtracting their percentage from each sale, Bandcamp sends the profits directly to your PayPal account and keeps a running balance of what you owe them. When the amount owed is equal to or greater than a sale, they will absorb the sale and deduct that amount from your balance. For example, say you’re selling CDs at $10 each and Bandcamp is taking a 10% cut. The first sale goes all to you, and your balance is $1. The second sale goes all to you, and your balance is $2. The cycle continues. With the tenth sale, your balance is $10, which is the same amount as the sale. Instead of this sale going to your account, Bandcamp collects the money and reduces your balance.

Create a Bandcamp Account

Opening an account as easy as it gets. On the homepage, select “Artist Signup” at the top; on the next page, click the big green button that says “Sign Up Now.” Enter your email address and a password, choose your genre from a dropdown box, and create a few genre tags help people discover you. You’ll be assigned your very own URL and you’re off and running, with complete freedom to sell your music and whatever merchandise you can slap your logo on.

Getting Help With Bandcamp

The help section on the site is chock-full of in-depth tutorials that should keep you informed and answer your questions. On the off chance that it doesn’t, there is an email form on the site for contacting support. Customer support is not reachable by phone.

Bottom line is, if you’re looking for a good place to call your home for online music sales, Bandcamp pretty much does everything but write the songs. Hey, we never said it was perfect.

Have you tried Bandcamp? What did you like about the site? If you used another site, what made you choose that over Bandcamp?

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Streaming Your Music With Spotify

Streaming Your Music with Spotify

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Spotify is arguably the most popular streaming service. What does this mean for you as an artist? Well, it means that if your fans are streaming music, odds are good that they’re using Spotify, which means you’ve probably considered offering your music there.

For fans, Spotify offers two different plans. Both allow users to create playlists and run Spotify on their computer and mobile devices. The free version only allows shuffle mode of playlists and requires internet access. However, with the paid service, users can download playlists and play the music offline.

What Spotify Offers Artists

Spotify provides a platform for your existing fans to find and listen to your music. It also allows others to discover your music by clicking “related artists” when listening to someone on their playlists, by listening to other users’ playlists, or by another user sending them a message with your music. In that sense, Spotify has incorporated elements of social networking sites.

Signing Up For Spotify

You cannot submit your music directly to Spotify, since all their music is submitted by labels or distributors. If you don’t have a label or distributor, Spotify has a list of recommended aggregators that can help get your music on the site. These filters help ensure that the music is properly licensed before appearing on Spotify, and the filters administer your royalty payments, taking their cut along the way.


The cost for listing your music on Spotify will vary depending on the route you take. If ReverbNation is your filter, the distribution services is either included in your ReverbNation plan or available for $34.95 a year. If you use CD Baby (one of the recommended aggregators), the cost to distribute your music digitally is $49 per album or $12.95 per single, plus 9% of the streaming royalties.

Making Money with Spotify

For streamed music, Spotify claims that it sends nearly 70% of the revenue back to the rights holders (the label, publisher, distributor, or you, the artist). However, the payment actually received by artists is often negligible. For a detailed description of how Spotify calculates an artist’s pay, visit their artist page and scroll down to the Royalties sections.

Spotify also allows you to post and sell some of your merchandise without commission, letting your fans have easy access to your products and letting you keep more of your profits.

Getting Assistance

There are three main ways to get help with Spotify: a frequently asked questions section, a community forum, and a contact form.

Now that you have the basics of how Spotify works, check out our article on whether or not you should use it.

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