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A man wearing headphones and looking at his phone in a recording studio. A man wearing headphones and looking at his phone in a recording studio.

DIY distribution

4 min read

DIY distribution & marketing

DIY, do-it-yourself music distribution and marketing means releasing sound recordings without being signed to a record label.

The rise of , , and the availability of new and effective tools and services for music and marketing has created new opportunities for to connect directly with their audience and build a loyal fan base.

What is DIY Music Distribution?

DIY distribution is when an independent uses a distribution service to release their sound recordings to physical music stores and . These distributors may also collect from the sound recordings being bought or streamed and pay those royalties back to the creators. Some distributors offer services in just one or both physical and .

Digital DIY Distribution

Many self-releasing artists will manage their distribution solely through a digital , sometimes known as an , to distribute sound recordings to be streamed or downloaded via DSPs.

Visit our topic, The Music Industry Ecosystem, to learn more about distributors.

How does DIY digital distribution work?

A self-releasing artist will select a digital distributor online and sign up for their services. Artists from anywhere in the world can use these services, although some platforms have an application process and only allow select artists onto their service. The digital distributor will charge a flat fee or take a percentage of the royalties earned from the sound recordings they distribute.

  • The artist submits their sound recording files, , and to the distributor via their platform. There are no sound quality requirements that distributors insist on. It is up to the creator to ensure the best quality sound recording is uploaded.

  • The distributor collects metadata and information from the artist, some of which may be required by particular DSPs. They will then assign an and or to all sound recordings that are distributed.

  • The sound recordings are then uploaded to DSPs on the artist’s behalf. Distributors can upload the sound recordings to a variety of DSPs.

  • Once available on the DSPs, distributors will supply statistical to artists so they can know how their sound recordings are performing and in which countries and cities their listeners are based.

  • The distributor will provide distribution and pay any royalties to the of the sound recordings. Most services do this on a monthly basis. Visit our topic, Getting Credited and Paid, to learn more about this.

  • In certain cases, distributors may offer additional marketing services, such as and .

There are many digital distributors for creators to choose from, and each will have different features, pricing, and terms. So, it’s best for self-releasing artists to research and find the best service for them. But as an example, some global DIY distributors include:

  • Distrokid

  • Tunecore

  • CD Baby

  • Amuse

  • Landr

  • Ditto

Click here to contact us and request to add your company to this list.

Physical DIY Distribution

When we talk about physical distribution, we’re referring to the distribution of physical like CDs, cassette tapes, and vinyl records.

How does DIY physical distribution work?

  • A self-releasing artist will find a physical distributor and either sign up for their service online or contact them to place an order.

  • Creating physical products may require some up-front planning and investment, anticipating how many physical copies might sell. In some cases, the distributor will need to be paid in advance for those copies.

  • The artist will upload all their release assets, such as sound recording files, cover art and metadata to the distributor to manufacture the physical products

  • Once manufactured, the physical products may be sent directly to the creator to sell online or at live shows. Alternatively, the distributor may offer a service to allow the artist’s fans to purchase the physical products directly, which means they will take care of sending out the products.

  • Media on demand – in some markets, your physical products can be produced and sent to the customer on demand without the need to produce advance stock.

Image credit: Nils Emil Nylander