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2017: Do i need a label / digital distribution?
Old 10th July 2017
  #1
2017: Do i need a label / digital distribution?

Hi,

we have 2017 now and i'm just think about if a label / distro is still needed for an (new) artist.

1) It's nearly impossible to get signed by a bigger label.

2) Small labels usually don't have enough money to make good promo.

3) I don't know anybody who buys on iTunes, Beatport, whatever.

4) DJs get most of their tracks for free by the artists/labels/promo agencies.

5) You don't make any money with Beatport & co. Just think about the time you invest to get your tune online there. Your hourly wage rate = $5?

6) What sense does it make to just get listed there? Any benefits?

I just would like to distribute my tracks (for free) via my own website / YouTube / Soundcloud and Facebook.

Your thoughts?
Old 10th July 2017
  #2
Gear Addict
 

What does any of the above matter if you want to '' distribute my tracks (for free) via my own website / YouTube / Soundcloud and Facebook.''?????????????????????????????????
Old 10th July 2017
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1993 View Post
I just would like to distribute my tracks (for free) via my own website / YouTube / Soundcloud and Facebook.

Your thoughts?
You mean you want people to be able to listen to your track for free or you want to distribute your tracks at no cost to you?

If you're not trying to make money with your music, I don't see any reason to pay for distribution services...
Old 11th July 2017
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by stopthesignal View Post
You mean you want people to be able to listen to your track for free or you want to distribute your tracks at no cost to you?

If you're not trying to make money with your music, I don't see any reason to pay for distribution services...
Maybe Beatport & co. just to reach more people?

And make the tracks more "official released"?
Old 11th July 2017
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Sebastian N's Avatar
 

tons of DJS buy tracks every week. Sure, the big names get lots of promo tracks. but most of the working DJs that i know buy tracks weekly because even if they are on promo lists, that doesn't mean you would play those tracks. to get on these major shops you need a distributor (lots out there, various deals to be had). after that, promoting the tracks and getting a bit lucky. but keep in mind that the percentage of unknown releases that get featured is very low. after years of cruising these shops on a weekly basis, i always see kinda the same names in their respective categories. personally i don't even look at the featured artists/releases. i'm not interested in whoever "curated" those lists' opinions. i have particular aesthetics that i'm after so i will dig for tracks myself. but lots of people just go for the popular releases out every week. again, it comes down to what you want to do with your music and what style you make. if it's club sounds, than these shops have their place. not to say there's not great techno or house to be bought/downloaded from bandcamp directly. getting people to your website will be painfully slow at the beginning. unless you have some massive following online.
Old 11th July 2017
  #6
Lives for gear
 
acealive's Avatar
you can set up a Google Play Account as an artist for a setup-fee :
https://play.google.com/artists/

Bandcamp as well, even without a setup-fee.
Old 11th July 2017
  #7
Gear Addict
 

The question I keep asking myself reading the OP - Why would you want to give away your music?

Is it pure promotional so you think that way you can grow a fan base which in return might bring you gigs or a big label to take interest?
Are you financially so comfortable that you can dedicate tons of your time and investment in equipment without needing anything in return?

IF your motive is to grow a fan base which in turn can be monetized and transformed into a lasting future career, then I would say you might be in with a chance. However, it's not always the best way as it can raise questions - such as 'Do you rate your music so low that you don't think people would pay for it?'. This in return would turn off most labels, management and publishers alike, if you don't believe in it - why would they or the public?

It's a jungle ha ha ha

My advice would be to either work your way up through smaller labels (you kinda give it away for free as you won't make a penny most likely) as their reach is most likely better than yours, or to start one yourself and throw a decent PR budget at it - you might make back what you invested that way so you won't lose money...
Old 11th July 2017
  #8
Lives for gear
 
evosilica's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Morley View Post
My advice would be to either work your way up through smaller labels (you kinda give it away for free as you won't make a penny most likely) as their reach is most likely better than yours.
There a millions of small labels trying to make it. Their reach is generally zero.
Old 11th July 2017
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1993 View Post
Maybe Beatport & co. just to reach more people?

And make the tracks more "official released"?
I'm perhaps the wrong person to be responding, but nothing about putting your tracks on Beatport makes them more "official released" in my opinion.

As others have noted, it's all a matter of what you're really after. If you just want your tracks to be accessible so that you can point folks to them when the opportunity arises, there are plenty of free options for that. I would recommend Bandcamp, as it is just as "official" as anything else and makes it very easy for people to stream or download your tracks at decent quality.

If you're trying to cast a wide net by having your tracks on as many services as possible in the small hopes that some people you've never interacted with might stumble upon them, then by all means you can pay for distribution services, but you're unlikely to get a financial return on your investment.
Old 11th July 2017
  #10
Deleted User
Guest
There's no good answer to this. If there was I'd be doing it.

One thing I can't get over; musicians allowed their livelihoods to be destroyed without any real protest. I don't accept that it was inevitable.
Old 11th July 2017
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Eric J's Avatar
One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that with nearly any legit label with distribution to these platforms, once you sign it over to them you don't own it anymore. You CAN"T legally put it up on your own space. Most will sign a licensing agreement for some time (5 years or so) that basically means they own the rights to that track, exclusively. It they're cool with you then might ask your opinion on licensing out to other labels or whatever, but they are under no obligation to do so. Essentially, you sign over the rights to that track in exchange for some portion of the revenue.

I would generally post "snippets" or "preview" versions of tracks on all my social media accounts and I've had my own music taken down from numerous platforms like YouTube or SoundCloud. The distributors have systems that search for unauthorized posting of music and submit take down claims.

So its really an either/or scenario. Either you go it alone and do all the marketing and promotion yourself OR you find a label that can reach the right audience and attempt to sign your work over to them. Once nice thing about being in a label family is that good work begets more work. If your music is successful, you'll often be asked to participate in remixes, collaborations or other opportunities that might not have come about if you're working solely by yourself. Plus its nice to work with like-minded individuals, and be a part of a team.

Personally, I have several aliases for different types of music. Most of it is signed by labels, but I have one that I do on my own, purely because I want to go that route for some stuff and just see how it goes. I'm not really concerned about making any money.
Old 11th July 2017
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Morley View Post
The question I keep asking myself reading the OP - Why would you want to give away your music?
Because anyone should get free access to my tracks without any strings.

iTunes/Beatport/Juno: You need to register and pay.
My site: A simple download-link.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Morley View Post
Are you financially so comfortable that you can dedicate tons of your time and investment in equipment without needing anything in return?
How many copies does the average track sell? 100? So maybe $100 "profit"?

$100 for uploading the track to the distributors, fill in a lot of meta data, descriptions, wait until the release to realize your track is also for free on several sites uploaded by pirates... sending dmca take downs...

I can earn those $100 with other projects in maybe 2-3 hours. But without any stress!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Morley View Post
'Do you rate your music so low that you don't think people would pay for it?'.
Even if my tracks were superior... that doesn't means much more profit.

I know many friends who download for free all the time and rate their downloaded tracks high (but would never pay for it).

I can't "force" people to buy my tracks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastian N View Post
tons of DJS buy tracks every week. ... but most of the working DJs that i know buy tracks weekly because even if they are on promo lists, that doesn't mean you would play those tracks.
I just know DJs buying tracks if they are not available for free after some days of the official release date
Old 11th July 2017
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Eric J's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1993 View Post

How many copies does the average track sell? 100? So maybe $100 "profit"?

More like:

100 tracks at $1.99 = $199. Beatport cut is 60%, which is $120, leaving $80.

Then you get a 50/50 split with the label, which leaves you $40.

And 100 sales is high. Unless you're on a well established label with a big brand name and a big marketing machine, 20-30 sales is more like it.

Oh and many distributors don't pay out until your royalties exceed $100, so there's that.

Don't be in it for the money.
Old 11th July 2017
  #14
Deleted 10089a2
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1993 View Post
Hi,

we have 2017 now and i'm just think about if a label / distro is still needed for an (new) artist.

1) It's nearly impossible to get signed by a bigger label.

2) Small labels usually don't have enough money to make good promo.

3) I don't know anybody who buys on iTunes, Beatport, whatever.

4) DJs get most of their tracks for free by the artists/labels/promo agencies.

5) You don't make any money with Beatport & co. Just think about the time you invest to get your tune online there. Your hourly wage rate = $5?

6) What sense does it make to just get listed there? Any benefits?

I just would like to distribute my tracks (for free) via my own website / YouTube / Soundcloud and Facebook.

Your thoughts?
If you want people to hear your music marketing and promotion is almost as important as the music itself . TO give you an example - I released my own track online - it got 12 downloads and about 20 listens. Then some big label picked it up and it now has over 100,000 listens on spotify alone. I didnt make much money - but then nobody does unless you play live or license to film/adverts but if you want to get heard.... of course some people make it themselves but its way harder.
Old 11th July 2017
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Sebastian N's Avatar
 

You're hanging out with the wrong DJs.

And from your previous reply, it seems you have a pretty solid idea of what to do with your music. So what's the point of the thread?

Oh, and you don't make 100 bucks for 100 sales. Not even close. But good luck getting everyone on your website to sell direct without a cut. And if you just wanna give it away for free, just use Bandcamp or SoundCloud and enable downloads.

But I gotta ask, how long have you been in the "game"? Is your stuff worth 1,49/track? Do you give your tracks to you pirate DJ friends and if yes, do they play them when they have gigs? Are you a DJ as well? Do you play your tracks and if yes, how do they do/compare to other tracks in your sets? Because it's a valid metric to see where your productions stand in this flood of tracks released daily.

If you wanna play the official release game, either find some great labels and release only a few bangers every year or hop on as many small labels as you can and put out tons of tracks (if the quality and volume of production is there). But that might not be that easy either unless you make your own label and start pumping money into promos and distribution fees.

You'd better off releasing vinyl a couple of times per year because it usually sells if you have the right distributor
Old 11th July 2017
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric J View Post
More like:

100 tracks at $1.99 = $199. Beatport cut is 60%, which is $120, leaving $80.

Then you get a 50/50 split with the label, which leaves you $40.

And 100 sales is high. Unless you're on a well established label with a big brand name and a big marketing machine, 20-30 sales is more like it.
Yeah and that's exactly why i don't wanna invest any time in that "distro game".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric J View Post
Don't be in it for the money.
Don't be afraid, i'm just in for the fame!
Old 11th July 2017
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted 10089a2 View Post
[...] Then some big label picked it up and it now has over 100,000 listens on spotify alone.
Which genre?
Old 12th July 2017
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastian N View Post
You're hanging out with the wrong DJs.
Nope, some of them only buy vinyl and don't care about the digital stuff

That leads to your "You'd better off releasing vinyl a couple of times per year because it usually sells if you have the right distributor"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastian N View Post
And from your previous reply, it seems you have a pretty solid idea of what to do with your music. So what's the point of the thread?
I'm just not sure if i need to put my stuff on all popular distro sites just to look "seriously".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastian N View Post
Oh, and you don't make 100 bucks for 100 sales. Not even close. But good luck getting everyone on your website to sell direct without a cut.
I don't want to "sell" it on my website For free there...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastian N View Post
And if you just wanna give it away for free, just use Bandcamp or SoundCloud and enable downloads.
SC ok but BC?!? Why should i send my "fans" to this site? Why not to MY site?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastian N View Post
But I gotta ask, how long have you been in the "game"? Is your stuff worth 1,49/track?
Dude i don't wanna sell anything! Because i don't expect big profits.

But maybe it's not the time to think about all this stuff. Perhaps it's better to send demos (a stunning EP!) to big labels and if failing then try the "mid labels".

But sure not the small labels... this is what i can do myself too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastian N View Post
Do you give your tracks to you pirate DJ friends and if yes, do they play them when they have gigs?
I will promo them all and i'm sure many of them will play the tracks. Not because it's "from me"... but because the tracks are "cool" and "out of [name of home city here]".

As i said before: I don't release it for the money... i just want to see the people dancing to my tunes undercover and think secretly "if only they knew..."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastian N View Post
Are you a DJ as well? Do you play your tracks and if yes, how do they do/compare to other tracks in your sets? Because it's a valid metric to see where your productions stand in this flood of tracks released daily.
No DJ, but maybe in the future. I did a few "digital studio mixes" including some snippets of my own tracks and nobody complained... more the contrary... they were curious of some tracks that were listed as "track id missing"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastian N View Post
If you wanna play the official release game, either find some great labels and release only a few bangers every year or hop on as many small labels as you can and put out tons of tracks (if the quality and volume of production is there). But that might not be that easy either unless you make your own label and start pumping money into promos and distribution fees.
Yep i try to make "bangers" only and release 3-4 of them yearly...
Old 12th July 2017
  #19
Lives for gear
 
grasspike's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1993 View Post
SC ok but BC?!? Why should i send my "fans" to this site? Why not to MY site?..
FWIW Bandcamp integrates very well with other websites, for a small fee you can even have Bandcamp host your domain to actually make it your site

But beyond that Bandcamp makes it very easy for other people to share your tracks on other Social Media Platforms
Old 12th July 2017
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1993 View Post
i just want to see the people dancing to my tunes undercover and think secretly "if only they knew..." ;
Organize your own parties.
Old 12th July 2017
  #21
Gear Addict
 

Gearslutz Pro-Tip: Don't take music industry advice from people who aren't actually visibly active in the music industry.

I'm no great shakes, but I've gotten on airplanes and sold a pretty decent amount of vinyl over the years, and have a pretty decent network of people who are actually paying rent with dance music full time. From where I stand 90% of the advice offered in threads like these is just plain wrong, 9% of it is half right, and 1% of it is actually useful and true from what I've seen over the last 23 years.

The best piece of advice in this thread so far is this:

If you want to make records, or play gigs, or have a successful label, or whatever your musical goal is, go talk directly and make friends with the people who are actually doing what it is that you want to do.

The actual rules to how to do this stuff are not written down in any book, magazine or website. The only way you can really learn any of this is through word of mouth.

So don't take advice from random dudes on the internet. Be an actual fan of music, and get in touch with 10 promoters, or 10 working DJ's, or 10 producers with active release schedules, or 10 label owners... Just make sure when you talk to those people you are a genuine fan of what they do. Don't talk to them because of who they are or what they can do for you, talk to them because you feel a sincere connection with their WORK.

Ask them about their experiences and about what did and didn't work for them.

Take those 10 different sets of answers, and pick and choose from the different pieces of advice you are given.

Then it's time to make a plan and go for it.

Talk to the new people you meet through actually making moves, take in new information, and make adjustments along the way.
Old 12th July 2017
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coleman Young View Post
Gearslutz Pro-Tip: Don't take music industry advice from people who aren't actually visibly active in the music industry.

I'm no great shakes, but I've gotten on airplanes and sold a pretty decent amount of vinyl over the years, and have a pretty decent network of people who are actually paying rent with dance music full time. From where I stand 90% of the advice offered in threads like these is just plain wrong, 9% of it is half right, and 1% of it is actually useful and true from what I've seen over the last 23 years.

The best piece of advice in this thread so far is this:

If you want to make records, or play gigs, or have a successful label, or whatever your musical goal is, go talk directly and make friends with the people who are actually doing what it is that you want to do.

The actual rules to how to do this stuff are not written down in any book, magazine or website. The only way you can really learn any of this is through word of mouth.

So don't take advice from random dudes on the internet. Be an actual fan of music, and get in touch with 10 promoters, or 10 working DJ's, or 10 producers with active release schedules, or 10 label owners... Just make sure when you talk to those people you are a genuine fan of what they do. Don't talk to them because of who they are or what they can do for you, talk to them because you feel a sincere connection with their WORK.

Ask them about their experiences and about what did and didn't work for them.

Take those 10 different sets of answers, and pick and choose from the different pieces of advice you are given.

Then it's time to make a plan and go for it.

Talk to the new people you meet through actually making moves, take in new information, and make adjustments along the way.
All this x1000. Authenticity > everything else. Meaning (echoing): find people whose work /output/etc you actually admire and respect and engage with them in person. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Old 12th July 2017
  #23
Go with a small label if you know them personnally. Else I'd avoid it. I think it's worth it to put your stuff on streaming services, even if the money you'll get may amount to nothing at all.

It always start at the local level, but be sure to have a good-looking bandcamp at least.
Old 12th July 2017
  #24
Deleted 10089a2
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1993 View Post
Which genre?
Dubby techno chillout - picked up by Armada
Old 12th July 2017
  #25
Deleted 10089a2
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emos Eno View Post
Organize your own parties.
This is nice advice. I think if you generate a local following then a lot of the web stuff comes afterwards. Just make sure people know where to find you online if they like your gigs.
Old 12th July 2017
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emos Eno View Post
Organize your own parties.
Yeah i just thought about this one... but more like an "artist 1993 release party" (or a label debut) hosted by an existing party series.

I'm producing two genres: Techno and D&B.

Techno (in my city):

- dozens of party series, most of them boring minimal / melodic techno
- every weekend at least 8 techno partys (oversaturated)
- big audience

D&B (in my city):

- 3 series, not really place for a 4th one
- party1 only plays oldskool from vinyl, party2 only jungle/ragga, only party3 fits my style (liquid/jumpup/neurofunk)
- small audience
Old 12th July 2017
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1993 View Post
Yeah i just thought about this one... but more like an "artist 1993 release party" (or a label debut) hosted by an existing party series.

I'm producing two genres: Techno and D&B.

Techno (in my city):

- dozens of party series, most of them boring minimal / melodic techno
- every weekend at least 8 techno partys (oversaturated)
- big audience

D&B (in my city):

- 3 series, not really place for a 4th one
- party1 only plays oldskool from vinyl, party2 only jungle/ragga, only party3 fits my style (liquid/jumpup/neurofunk)
- small audience
Whatever you're gonna do nowadays, there's gonna be competition. If you're in it for the money, competition is gonna be tougher.
Be sure to know what you want in the long run (strategy), so you can adjust your short term actions accordingly (tactics).
By setting realistic goals, you can avoid almost any disappointment.

I know that sounds like a Marketing 101 book... but really, it's based on experience.
Old 12th July 2017
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

Pick a label with a vinyl output as they generally have a bigger audience-they would need one with the costs involved.
Old 12th July 2017
  #29
Lives for gear
 
DiGi_TaL's Avatar
 

Wow , what a match ! A few days ago I wrote a blog post that answers this exact question... Just published it now...
It's deals with this exact question, why to release your stuff on a label..

https://medium.com/@vitalyfutoriansk...l-fbe3efde19cc
Will be happy to hear what you think ...
Old 13th July 2017
  #30
Lives for gear
 
atma's Avatar
The actual statistics are essentially this:

80% of all revenue from online music sales goes to 1% of artists. Times have definitely changed!
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