Driving Digital Distribution for Independant Musicians through Technology
Although distribution for indie artists was once focused on placing physical mediums in brick-and-mortar stores, digital platforms have become the key to success. And now that the distribution of music has completely transformed, independent artists are faced with the challenge of figuring out how to manage a myriad of platforms in the most effective ways to get their music out to the largest possible number of people.
From one perspective, the massive number of choices that are available today can be seen as hugely advantageous to indie artists, allowing them to pick the platforms that are best suited to their genre, current level of success, and long-term goals. However, from the other side, the number of options can quickly become overwhelming, and some artists suffer from spending too much time managing distribution chains that don’t yield sufficiently positive results to justify the investment.
So, how can an indie artist determine the most effective distribution strategy to match their goals, and how can technology help?
Successful digital distribution is about both gaining new fans and securing revenue from sales and royalties. There’s no question that multiple platforms should typically be used, such as selling through online retail systems like iTunes, to being available through streaming services like Spotify. However, considering the financial limitations of indie artists, it’s essential to strategize carefully in order to get the most bang for their buck.
Technology plays a massive role in the success of all independent musicians, and this reality is only going to expand in the coming years, making it essential for all artists to analyze what will work best for their particular music and fan demographics.
There’s no question that many music industry experts and artists believe that streaming will continue to expand in the coming years. Spotify has a massive 60 million users, of which 15 million are paid subscribers, while Soundcloud has paid over $1 million in revenue to labels, audio partners, and emerging artists through monetized streams. Conversely, Bandcamp has paid out over $100 million to artists since its launch in 2008, with an alternative to streaming that allows fans to support indie artists directly.
Of course, digital distribution providers don’t have to store physical inventory or ship products to brick-and-mortar stores, so the focus is on developing technological solutions that can maximize the reach of artists. While platforms like CD Baby are very well established with massive user bases, these facts don’t necessarily translate to being the most valuable solution for distributing everyone’s music. For newer or less established indie artists, using a smaller service can sometimes be more advantageous, as the provider may be more inclined to harness a personalized strategy using technological solutions that can get the artist’s music in the ears of a broader and more receptive audience, through playlists and other highly targeted means.
For some artists, it may be best to start with a few markets, such as iTunes and Spotify, whereas, for others, a much more extensive strategy may be the key to success, perhaps including some offerings of free music as a promotional tool.
There isn’t one strategy that works for everyone, so indie artists should consult with music technology experts to ensure that their plan is thoughtfully arranged and refined over time, allowing the best possibility for success in the complex world of digital distribution.