Music Distribution 101: Understanding the Basics and How It Impacts Your Career

Are you a musician trying to make it in the industry? Well, let us tell you – music distribution is key! Understanding how your music gets from your studio to your audience and everything in between can be overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to break it down for you. In this blog post, we’ll cover the basics of music distribution and explain how it impacts your career as an artist. We break down the ins and outs of music distribution, helping you get your music in front of the right listeners and how to get it ready to be streamed and playlisted worldwide. 

What is Music Distribution?

Music distribution is the process of making your music available for listening or purchase by fans and potential customers. In the past, music distribution was a complicated and expensive process that required working with a record label or distributor. However, with the advent of digital technology and the internet, music distribution has become much easier and more affordable. There are now many ways to distribute your music, including online stores, streaming services, and social media platforms.

The way you distribute your music can have a big impact on your career as an artist. It is important to choose a distribution method that will allow you to reach your target audience and sell your music. For example, if you are an independent artist with a small fan base, you may want to consider distributing your music through an online store or streaming service. However, if you are signed to a record label or have a large following on social media, you may want to consider distributing your music through these channels.

No matter what method you choose to distribute your music, it is important to make sure that your music is high quality and easy to find. With so much competition in the music industry, it is essential that fans can easily find and listen to your music. By taking the time to understand the basics of music distribution, you can ensure that your music reaches the right people and helps you achieve success in your career.

Learn How to Promote your Songs

How Does Music Distribution Work?

When it comes to music distribution, there are a few key things to understand. First and foremost, music distribution is the process of getting your music from point A (you) to point B (the listener). This can be done in a number of ways, but most commonly it is done through digital platforms like iTunes or streaming services like Spotify.

Another important thing to understand about music distribution is that it is not free. In order to get your music on these platforms, you will need to sign up for a music distributor. These companies will typically charge you a yearly fee, as well as a per-song or per-album fee. However, this is still usually cheaper than trying to do it yourself.

Finally, it is important to understand how royalties work when it comes to music distribution. When you sign up with a distributor, they will typically give you the option to keep all of the royalties from your sales, or share them with the platform that you are distributing through. For example, if you sell your song on iTunes, they may take a cut of the royalties. However, if you choose to keep all of the royalties yourself, then you will need to pay taxes on those earnings.

Different Types of Distributors

Different types of music distributors offer different services and have different business models. There are three main types of distributors: direct-to-fan (D2F), physical, and digital.

Direct-to-fan (D2F) distributors help artists sell their music and merchandise directly to fans. They typically handle all aspects of the sale, from processing payments to shipping orders. Artists who use D2F distributors keep a higher percentage of the sale price than they would if they sold through a traditional distributor.

Physical distributors specialize in distributing music on physical formats, such as CDs and vinyl records. They typically work with brick-and-mortar retailers, such as record stores, to get the music into the hands of consumers. Physical distributors typically take a smaller cut of the sale price than D2F or digital distributors.

Digital distributors specialize in distributing music in digital formats, such as MP3s and WAV files. They typically work with online retailers, such as iTunes and Amazon Music, to get the music into the hands of consumers. Digital distributors typically take a smaller cut of the sale price than D2F or physical distributors.

Benefits of Using a Music Distributor

There are many benefits of using a music distributor, including:

-Increased reach and exposure for your music. A distributor can help you get your music into more stores, both digital and physical, as well as on streaming services. This will help you reach more listeners and potential fans.

-Simplified release process. A distributor can take care of all the logistics involved in releasing your music, from encoding to manufacturing to promotion. This frees up your time so you can focus on creating new music.

-Access to additional resources and support. A good distributor will offer additional services like marketing and radio promotion, which can give your career a boost. They can also provide helpful advice and guidance as you navigate the music industry.

How to Choose the Right Distributor for You

Choosing the right distributor for your needs is a critical step in getting your music career off the ground. There are a few key factors to consider when selecting a distributor, including:

-The size of your catalog: If you have a large catalog of music, you’ll need to find a distributor that can handle all of your content. Otherwise, you’ll need to choose a smaller distributor that specializes in your genre or style of music.

-The distribution channels you want to use: Some distributors only work with digital retailers, while others also work with physical retailers and streaming services. Make sure you know where you want your music to be available before choosing a distributor.

-Your budget: Music distribution can be expensive, so it’s important to find a distributor that fits within your budget. Some distributors charge per album or song, while others charge a monthly or yearly fee.

Once you’ve considered all of these factors, you should be able to narrow down your options and choose the right distributor for your needs.

Digital Distributors Streaming Services Available

There are many different ways to distribute your music, and each has its own set of pros and cons. Self-distribution is one option that allows you to have more control over your music and how it’s distributed, but it also comes with some challenges. Most of all, it’s important to make sure that your music is available to be discovered where your potential fans are spending time. Considering that, here are the top digital stores and distributors avaiable to you:

  • Spotify is a digital music, podcast, and video streaming service that has millions of songs from artists all over the world. Spotify is currently the biggest streaming platform in the world.
  • Apple Music is Apple’s on-demand streaming service with access to over 50 million songs. Apple Music reigns in second place in popularity around the world.
  • Amazon Music is an online streaming service and music store with more than 2 million songs.
  • Tidal is a subscription-based music, podcast, and video streaming service that features high-fidelity sound, hi-def video, curated playlists, and original content.
  • YouTube is a video-sharing service where users can watch or upload their own videos. Artists can publish music videos to the platform or monetize their tracks via YouTube Content ID.
  • Deezer is a streaming platform with more than 56 million tracks, and available in over 180 countries.
  • TikTok is the world’s fastest-growing social media app and features popular content like dance routines, challenges, and duets. 

Learn how to go viral on TikTok


As an artist, understanding the basics of music distribution is essential for your career. Learning how to properly distribute and market your music will help you reach a larger audience, increase your potential income, and grow as an artist. With the right tools and knowledge, anyone can become successful in this industry. So take the time to learn more about distribution, marketing, and promotion so that you have everything you need to make it big in this ever-evolving industry!