The Digital Streaming Platform (“DSP”) has become a staple of the music industry over the last decade. Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music have managed to stay relevant (Who, Tidal? I haven’t heard of her...) amidst the ever-growing and changing music landscape mainly because the music industry is responsive to consumers and negligent to artists. Before you put your music on a DSP, consider these questions:
Let’s get one thing straight: prioritizing money as an artist is not only fine, it’s also healthy for the industry. If more artists were willing to make their revenue a larger incentive, it would send a message to the music business as a whole that artists need to be compensated. However, sacrificing money for exposure is a valid long-term strategy for many artists.
If your goal is to reach as many consumers with your music as possible, you should diversify your DSP presence and give the users of Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music (and maybe some others that we haven’t heard of) a chance to discover you. Only uploading to Spotify might gain you popularity in your hometown or even around the United States, but Spotify isn’t available in every country and isn’t popular with every demographic.
Now let’s talk money. Spotify pays somewhere between $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream to the holder of “music rights.” As you may know, these “music rights” don’t just belong to the artist, the songwriter, the publisher, the record label, the featured artists, the studio musicians, or the producers, but rather some combination of all of the above. Let’s say you earn one million streams on your latest single. That’s at most $8,400 if you own 100% of your composition and recording rights -- a feat almost impossible for any artist that is popular enough to constitute a million streams.
Honestly, what are the alternatives? You can sell your music on iTunes and in physical form, but the costs associated with physical music sales nearly outweigh the monetary benefits. And who goes to physical music stores anymore? Putting your music in a record store doesn’t help you gain exposure; rather, it ineffectually feeds a dying sales format. Likewise, anyone who has access to iTunes can easily subscribe to Apple Music and have a much wider range of music selection. Plus, on Apple Music, you get paid every time someone streams your song. iTunes is a one-time transaction and doesn’t generate continuous royalties.
DSPs are the future of the music industry, and unless they stop paying artists all together, things can only get better. In fact, the Music Modernization Act (“MMA”), signed into law last October, creates new infrastructure for DSPs to more accurately and completely license their entire catalogue. The MMA ensures that every artist whose music is on a DSP is fairly compensated for the streaming of their composition and recording.
Hopefully artists will be able to upload their music to DSPs directly in the near future, but that day has not yet come. Artists need to partner with a distributor in order to place their music on a DSP. The most popular distributors are LANDR, CD Baby, Tunecore, and Record Union, but all of them come with different fee structures and timelines, so do your research before committing.
After you decide on a distributor, the rest of the process is painless. Make sure that you can provide all of the metadata for your song(s) (songwriters, performers, producers, etc.), and the distributor will handle all communication with the DSP. Soon after, you’ll be able to share your music instantly, internationally, and infinitely.
It’s clear that modern musicians can share their music easily and earn passive income through the use of DSPs. Although the income from a singular stream is nowhere near as profitable as selling a physical CD, DSPs allow artists to generate constant and continuous income and exposure nearly everywhere in the world. And, the process to upload your music to a DSP is standard and simple, if you’ve done a little research.
If you want to learn more about DSPs and the role they can play in your life as an artist or band, contact us at email@example.com.