Spotify is the largest music streaming that an artist anywhere in the world can hope to be a part of. With about 31% of the market, which is more than double what Apple and Amazon each occupy, they are a force to be reckoned with.
So for many musicians who are trying to get their music heard by a wider audience, the pressing question on their minds is how to get their music onto Spotify.
How Do I Get My Music on Spotify?
There is really only one all-important key to getting your music onto Spotify’s platform. While there are a few steps involved once you have this key, you can’t complete any of them without it. You need a distributor.
Once you have a distributor for your music, you will submit your song or album to them and they will upload it to your artist profile on Spotify.
The downside is that Spotify does not have the kind of direct-upload platform that Soundcloud or Bandcamp has.
Spotify takes the middle man approach. More on why in a moment, but to clarify, a distributor is not the same thing as a label. A record label handles recording and promotion and things like that.
Like the category implies, a distributor simply takes music from the artist and puts it into the hands of the audience.
Back in the day, distributors were moving CDs or vinyl records. While they still do today, they also handle digital formats as well.
Why Do You Need a Distributor?
While a distributor may seem like an unnecessary middleman, especially when there are platforms around that allow you to upload your music for free, Spotify values the ability to distributors to handle certain aspects of the music business in addition to distribution:
- Paying Royalties
- Quality control
Each of these may need a bit of an explanation, in order to understand all that goes into streaming on Spotify and why the streaming giant doesn’t want you doing it on your own.
Artists receive royalties based on the licensing agreements that they have. According to Musicbed, the major licenses revolve around:
- Connecting your music and whoever owns to the master of your music with other media that want to use your music, like advertisers or movie producers
- Public performance of your music
- Reproduction of your music in physical media like a CD or if you are covering someone else’s song
Distributors keep track of these licenses and others as it relates to streaming so that you don’t have to.
They also know the business and can interact with Spotify in a way that keeps both them and you out of hot water.
The distributor also acts as a middle man for paying royalties to the artist.
Here is where it can get a little frustrating for the artist because the distributor takes money out of the artist’s already small payout from the streaming platform. Everyone who provides a service must get paid for their service.
The Music business can be confusing, so the idea is that the distributor handles that payout in relation to the various licensing agreements that the artist has.
As I’m sure you can imagine, Spotify has a variety of requirements for both the presentation of your music and the actual digital music file. This is basically quality control.
By going through a distributor, you have someone who comes alongside you and helps you navigate these requirements so that the product that your distributor uploads to Spotify meets their expectations and gives your listeners the highest quality stream available within Spotify’s platform.
Recording artist and Youtuber Charles Cleyn, says that:
- Album art for Spotify should be in about 1,500 pixels square
- Your music should be at least in a 16-bit file format.
What Distributors Should You Use?
Like it or not, distributors are necessary to get your music onto Spotify’s platform. So the next question is which ones are the best to use. There are actually a lot to choose from just in general.
Spotify gives you a list of nine distributors that they prefer to work with and four that they merely recommend.
It may be worth going with one of these nine choices if only to rest assured that you are working with a company that Spotify is comfortable with. No surprises that way.
At the top of that list are:
- CD Baby
These two names are repeated by multiple sources as good distributors to work with, so they are definitely worth checking out.
Another company that often gets recommended is TuneCore. They are not on Spotify’s list, but they certainly work with Spotify and can help you get your artist profile set up.
You can see more about distribution channels here and how to put music on Spotify without distributor.
Distributors and Your Artist Profile
Speaking of your artist profile, you need a distributor to help you set one up. When you go through a distributor, Spotify reviews the account.
Once the review is complete, you have the opportunity to claim your profile and also claim your verified artist status.
Verified artists get that stylish blue checkmark by their name and the amenities that come with it.
For example, when you release music as a verified artist, you will have a heads-up as to when Spotify will drop the music so you can promote it through Spotify’s music curators.
This is a valuable tool for generating a buzz for your song or album.
Is It Free to Put Music on Spotify?
Technically, no. As I mentioned earlier, the distributor that you work with is going to take a cut of your payout in some way, whether it is an actual percentage or a subscription.
For example, if you go through DistroKid, you can upload an unlimited amount of music for roughly twenty bucks a year.
If the subscription rate isn’t your thing, CD Baby collects the publisher’s share of the appropriate royalties. According to a review by Music Gateway, that’s about 9%.
Whatever deal different distributors may offer you, it is important to note that you will end up paying something for their services.
Can You Get Your Music on Spotify Free?
Technically, yes! While not ideal nor recommended methods, there are a few ways to get your music on Spotify for free.
- One way is to make your music available as a podcast.
- Another way is to share your music on SoundCloud and make it available for streaming.
- You can also upload your music directly to Spotify.
- Finally, you can learn how to get your music on spotify playlists and create a playlist of favorite songs and share it with others.
While these offer a way to make your song available on the platform, they will not be equal to songs put up via a distributor and you will not earn from them.
Music distribution is one beast, music promotion is another. Once you actually have your music on your favorite streaming platform, you really need to dig your heels in and get to work with marketing and promotion!
You should also try to get your music on other streaming services, like Pandora.
These tips should help you - actionable and platform-specific (no cookie-cutter one size fits all promoting):
- How To Promote Your Music On Twitter
- How To Promote Your Music On Facebook
- How To Promote Your Music On LinkedIn
- How To Promote Your Music On Instagram
- How To Promote Your Music On Youtube
- How To Promote Your Music On Soundcloud
- How to Promote Your Music on Reddit