As an independent artist myself, i decided to compile a list of 10 steps (some mandatory, others optional) that new starting out artists should (or have to!) go through in order to increase their chances of success into day’s new buzzing independent music world.
Having released a full-fledged album on my own, I very much know first hand about the mistakes and struggles indies can sometimes go through, so this is my little effort to try to make other people’s experiences a little smoother.
Here is a number of steps new artists have to go through, and some links that have, at least in my case, proven useful at least to a certain extend, but with that being said, every case is completely different, so check them out, and take what could be good for you out of it, and ignore the rest.
1- REGISTER YOUR SONGS WITH A PRO
PRO stands for Performing Rights Organization, they collect money on behalf of rights owners, independent and with labels alike. Almost every country has its own PRO (or PROs). USA has BMI, ASCAP and SESAC, UK has PRS and PPL and so on. It is also important to register your songs with SOUND EXCHANGE, which monitors the usage of your songs should they get internet radio airplay.
2- CHOOSE A DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
Distribution companies are the ones that can get your music to digital (and sometimes physical) music stores, such as Spotify, iTunes, Tidal, Beatport, Shazam, Deezer, Google Play, Amazon Mp3 and Napster (aka Rhapsody) among others, collect the revenue on your behalf and pay the artist accordingly. Some of the most notable names are CDbaby, Tunecore, Symphonic Distribution, ONErpm, Ditto, ReverbNation, DistroKid and MondoTunes. Each one of them has its unique pros and cons, and set of skills, so research them well beforehand.
3- GET A WEBSITE
Having a website of your own is important, a place where your fans can go to check out about your new music, whereabouts, read your blog posts, buy your merchandise and so on. WordPress remains the best website builder on the market, and there are plenty of tutorials to help you build one, but if you don’t have the time nor the patience to sit and learn about webmaster related tools, you can opt for easier options, such as Wix, GoDaddy, Squarespace, Weebly, Bandzoogle or HostBaby (for CDbaby users), little to zero web design skills needed on these ones.
4- GET A PUBLISHING DEAL
Music publishing companies keep close track on the usage of the copyrighted music, they issue licenses for the use of a registered song and collect the royalties to be paid out to the owners. The main ones are the aforementioned TuneCore, SongTrust and CDbaby PRO (which is handled by SongTrust as well, but with a few differences in the model). Symphonic Distribution also lets you register your song to TuneCore publishing directly from their website.
5- CONTENT ID YOUR MUSIC
Youtube, though often seen as a video platform, still remains the biggest music streaming platform. Content ID is a digital fingerprint of your music, that can then be monetized with ads on Youtube should it be used in other people’s videos. Most distributors offer the service and collect the money on your behalf. As an extra, some distributors also deliver your music to Youtube Red as well, for some extra revenue. For people only interested in Youtube Content ID, or distributed by a company that lacks the service, they can submit their music to Audiam Label, which will handle their Youtube Content ID rights.
6- GET SOCIAL
Keep all of the social media accounts (mainly Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) updated, with all the information and useful links of where to find your music at, should it be your own website, or you Bandcamp or Soundcloud page.Try to post pretty regularly, but without overposting or spamming, doing too much could backfire.
7- LICENSE YOUR MUSIC
Submit your music yo the many licensing companies that are on the internet and can pitch your music to advertising, movies, gaming, TV and more. A few useful names might be YouLicense, Soundreef, Rumblefish, SentricMusic, SoundLounge, BeatPick, NaxosLicensing, Ricall, Jamendo and PumpAudio.
8- SUBMIT TO RADIO
Submit your music to internet and FM radio. It is not an easy thing to do, but it’s worth a try. Just google “radio submission” within your genre and you’ll find plenty of internet radios, follow the submission guidelines and hope for the best. You can also buy play credits at radioairplay.com and get played within your genre, or/and directly approach radio broadcasters at live365.com, avoiding sounding spammy.
9- A FEW EXTRAS
You can submit your music to blogs at submithub.com, submit you music to musicxrays.com, upload your songs to amazingtunesuk.com (which is also for airplay consideration), songdew.com (a very popular music blog in Asia) and fanburst.com (a quickly growing music sharing website), share your links on appropriate music related treads on Reddit and Quora (be careful to not overshare or you will be banned quickly) and add your music pages to Stumbledupon.
10- FINAL ADVICE
Make the best music you possibly can, all the tools to make it spread are out there. Don’t let the initial difficulties bring you down or discourage you, and if a door closes, just go knock at the next one.