Understanding how to get your music on Spotify is essential knowledge in 2021, when streaming dominates music sales. As of 2020, streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and others accounted for over 80% of the total revenue generated by music sales. It’s safe to say streaming isn’t going anywhere any time soon; let’s figure out the best ways to get your music on Spotify in 2021.
Introduction: How to Get Your Song on Spotify
The short answer is that you’ll be using a distribution service. We’ll dig deeper into that later, but for now we’ll cover a bit of preliminary information.
Is It Free to Upload Music to Spotify?
It’s not free, but the cost varies depending on which service you go with. The money these companies make will always come from somewhere, whether that’s from an annual subscription fee, a one-time upfront payment to distribute a song, or on the backend by taking a commission from your sales. You’ll find that most services charge for a subscription or per release; any service offering free distribution upfront is going to take a huge cut of your sales later.
Understanding Music Distribution
Actually getting signed up with and using digital distribution services is really easy. Your primary responsibility is uploading the song in a hi-res format, uploading the artwork, and filling in other metadata like everyone who contributed to writing the song, and more. From there, the company does the rest of the work to make sure your song hits Spotify, Apple Music, and potentially 100+ additional, lesser known streaming platforms.
For the sheer speed and convenience, digital distribution services are a godsend. Turnaround time varies, but you can usually expect to see your music on major streaming platforms within a week or two. It’s always a good idea to plan ahead for a scheduled release.
Apart from just distribution, these companies offer admin services as well. For example, if you release a cover song, the distribution acquires the appropriate mechanical license for your cover to be released. Not all of them offer this service, but most do for a small extra fee. Other admin publishing duties include collecting songwriting royalties and partnering with SoundExchange to collect mechanical royalties.
Most importantly, distribution services collect your royalties from every single platform they’ve uploaded your music to. They’ll divide up splits amongst multiple songwriters, if applicable, and make sure you get paid for streams. Of course, how much the company takes for themselves depends on the company.
Best Services to Get Your Music on Spotify in 2021
There are lots of choices out there, and we’ll take a look at the top five. Each offers something slightly different, so it will ultimately hinge on what you’re looking for specifically.
Best Comprehensive Service: CD Baby
CD Baby can upload your music to every streaming platform and online digital download store. What really sets them apart is that they partner with other companies to print physical copies of your music: CDs, vinyl, and even merch can all be part of the package.
Plus, they offer excellent admin publishing services to collect all royalties possible—not just straight streaming revenue. CD Baby takes 9% of the cut but provides comprehensive release services for a one-time charge.
Best Publishing Services: TuneCore
TuneCore distributes your music to every possible streaming platform. From there, they offer some of the best publishing services on any platform to make sure you get paid quickly and wholly any time your music is played. TuneCore’s team also pitches music for placements in film, commercials, video games, and TV shows for the chance of sync licensing.
TuneCore lets you keep 100% of your revenue, but charges an annual fee instead of a one-time payment per release. A single runs $10/year, while an album goes for $30/year for the first one, and $50/year for every subsequent release. Each release counts as a credit, so if you plan to drop multiple singles in a year you may want to look into TuneCore’s bulk pricing.
Easiest to Use: DistroKid
DistroKid is super convenient and very user-friendly. They charge an annual subscription fee, but that gives you unlimited uploads compared to TuneCore which gives you release credits for one project at a time. The upload process is literally one page where you just fill in the information for the song.
DistroKid makes it simple to add in splits if you worked with other songwriters—they just need to have an account themselves to collect their money. This service also gives you 100% of any earned royalties.
Best for Cover Songs and Collaborators: Soundrop
Soundrop is ideal for artists covering songs. Licensing is included at no additional cost for every cover song, and you can distribute that song to every platform for just $0.99. They take a 15% cut, which isn’t too bad considering how affordable the service is and what they offer.
Soundrop makes it very easy to set up splits amongst multiple songwriters too, so it’s also great for frequent collaborators.
Best Free Distribution Service: Amuse
Distribution through Amuse is free, and they let you keep 100% of your royalties. How so? They’re essentially a record label seeking new talent. Up-and-coming artists can take advantage of Amuse’s free distribution services, and Amuse may reach out with a contract to anyone whose music generates a buzz. At that point, it’d most likely be something like a 50/50 split between the artist and Amuse—that’s how they make their money.
Amuse is still sort of a newcomer, so proceed accordingly. They’re distribution only, so they won’t go out of their way to collect all your different royalties. Still, for free distribution it may be worth exploring as a brand new artist.
Setting Up Spotify for Artists
Once you get your music on Spotify through a distribution service, you’ll want to set up your artist account. The Spotify for Artists page can be found here.
Click the “Get Access” button and go through the verification process. Once that’s complete, you’ll have access to a range of exclusive features for artists on Spotify. Firstly, you’ll be able to see detailed analytics of your listeners/streams, have the ability to submit songs to playlists, and generally customize the whole look and feel of your Spotify landing page when someone clicks on it through the app.
To summarize how to get your music on Spotify, you just have to settle on a distribution service to work with. They’ll do all of the dirty work and get your music on Spotify and other streaming platforms!