Sharing music online: when do you need digital distribution?

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Artists must assess where their career is going before working out how to share their music online, a digital music panel at The Great Escape has said.

The Recordings – Getting Played, Getting Paid session today (Thursday) gathered experts to discuss how online distribution is evolving and how artists can make the most of new developments across the industry.

Sarah Johnston, from artist services company FUGA, which also works with SoundCloud to aggregate uploaders’ music to other streaming platforms, told delegates: ‘It’s important for artists and labels to realise where they are in the lifecycle of their career.

‘If you’re very small, I would say go to a DIY [distribution] platform. You’re going to be able to upload your own content and focus your time on building your own revenues.

‘If you’re slightly more established, go to a label services company. Then, once you get to a point where you can’t justify paying that 15 to 20 percent to the company [for their services], you need to think about whether you should hire a team to launch your own label instead.’

Alex Branson, from artist services and publishing company EMPIRE, highlighted how artists can easily work directly with uploader platforms to share their music, but he cautioned that they should consider the following: ‘If you’re an artist, putting your music on Spotify is one thing, but you want to build a career, and a livelihood, and I don’t think that’s going to come from just making your music available.’

He went on to explain that artists should expand beyond using just one or two music-sharing platforms, and think about exploring artist services such as marketing, to help grow their reach.

‘If you’re at a stage in your career where all you want to do is just get your music out there, then that’s fine – the SoundCloud solution is pretty good. You’re going to use SoundCloud to find your audience and engage fans,’ he continued.

But artists who want to build a career should look outside this simple model. He added: ‘If you align yourself with one DSP, do you honestly think it will help you be prominent on the other DSPs? Competition: simple.’