While  scoring a deal with a record label, to take you under their wings and provide you with the mass distribution you need, to take your music career to the next level, would be a great move for you as an artist. Another essential part of your music career now as an up & coming artist is getting the money you deserve from all the hard work you put into your music. Too often artists produce music and give it away for free with the hopes of acquiring a record deal, this however does not have to remain so. By using the distribution outlets and techniques listed in this article, you as an artist can sought out that record label contract while making money through your music.

1). Traditional distribution

If you would like people to get their “hands” on your music through hard copy sales of your album in the form of CD’s, tapes etc. Then a more traditional form of music distribution may be for you. However the days of standing on the street corner selling your music out of your car are long gone! People are more willing to negotiate in this age and now in most cases making money doesn’t mean you have to have money from the start.

First, burn hard copies of your music onto writable CDs at home using reputable computer CD burning software such as NERO,Roxio etc. Next, after  properly packaging your CD, along with your printed album art, to the front, and full song list to the back.

Go to your local neighborhood record shops, and negotiate with the owner to sell your music out of their store for a percentage on sales with no upfront costs. Retail outlets negotiate with customers who ask for discounts everyday, this means they will listen to your offer, however, whether they take it or not will depend on you, in this case presentation AND confidence is key! Chances are if you believe in your product they will too!

Important Note: If you are planning on independently distributing hard copies of your music in the form of album CDs you should consider getting a UPC code for each different album you intend to sell. A UPC code stands for Universal Product Code, it is simply a 12- digit bar code placed on each item in a store for sale, for purposes of tracking the number of sales of each particular product. The benefit of obtaining a UPC code is, if you intend on selling your music through a middleman (such as your local record shop) you will be able to track the sales of your music by simply requesting for the code for your album to be typed into the company system/computer to see all sale info on your product(album). This not only helps keep record of your sales but also helps you as an artist protect yourself and your music from copyright fraud.

Also be very careful where you purchase your UPC codes as they must be a valid and registered code sold to you by an official reseller of UPC codes.

Listed below are a few companies we have found to be legitimate and legal resellers of UPC codes:

http://ezupc.com/ – EZ UPC

http://www.qualityupc.com/ – Quality UPC

http://www.legalbarcodes.com/ – Legal Barcodes

http://www.buyupcbarcodes.com/ – Buy UPC codes

2). Modern distribution

Digital music sales are increasing at a rapid rate, and soon, may very well make itself, the #1 way the majority of music artists choose to distribute their music for sale. There are now many options for an artist to choose from in terms of music distribution outlets apart from record labels that can help them make a profit off their production. Here are a couple of the top distribution sites, what they have to offer you as an artist and what they cost:-


If you would like to get your music distributed on some of  the top 10 digital music platforms such as:

  • eMusic
  • Lala
  • IMVU
  • Rhapsody
  • MySpace Music
  • Amie St
  • Shockhound
  • Nokia Music store
  • iTunes store (6 countries)
  • Amazon mp3

You may want to consider Tunecore. The company also offers other digital music distribution services such as reporting tools so you can view stats on the sale of your music as well provides you with widgets which you can place on your website or other social networking sites such as Facebook/Myspace to better help sell your music.

The cost of distribution are as follows:

ALBUM SALES:                                                                                                                        SINGLES SALES:

annual maintenance fee:- $19.98 per album                           annual maintenance fee:- $9.99 per song

.99c per song                                                                                         $0.00 (all tunecore stores included)

.99c per store per album

For an example of the first years cost for albums/singles at tunecore go to: – http://www.tunecore.com/example.html

For further information on the distribution  tunecore offers and their seperate fees go to: – http://www.tunecore.com/faq


The great benefit in using Reverbnation as your digital distribution sales outlet is the fact that most artists already have an account with this music social networking giant! The site offers digital distribution at a yearly subscription fee. The two basic subscriptions offered are:-

The Essentials Package, which offers digital distribution to 35 stores in total including Amazon mp3, Spotify, iTunes and Myspace Music at a yearly subscription fee of $34.95.

The Pro package offered at a yearly subscription fee of $55.95 gives your music access to stores such as Zune, iTunes, Amazon mp3, Spotify, Myspace Music- 43 stores in total.

Also all sales in both packages are reported to SoundScan. SoundScan is a sales tracking system used to collect weekly retail figures from music stores. These figures are then used for charts such as the Billboard top 100 etc.

*Both Tunecore and Reverbation allow you to retain  100% royalties and rights to your music, which means all profit from sales minus their fixed/up-front costs come back to you – the artist.

More info on the benefits and costs of digital music distribution at Reverbnation can be found at the link below:-


CD baby

Already have a CD but still want it distributed without all the hard work? CD baby offers distribution for hard copy and digital music. If you already have a CD they will process and send it to several online distributors for free. This will however have an upfront cost of $35, for which they, prepare the CD for sale, which includes-album cover resizing, changing the music format, creation of a web page for your album and an artist page for you as well etc. Cd baby takes a $4 cut for sales of hard copy CDs.

However, if you would like your music distributed solely digitally there would be a $9.95 fee for singles and a 9% cut in net earnings when your music is sold through digital distribution outlets such as iTunes and a 25% cut per mp3 download sold on their store. You can also purchase your UPC code for your album at a cost of $20 and for your single at a cost of $5.

Music Retailers who CD baby is associated with includes:-

  • Amazon MP3
  • eMusic
  • Rhapsody
  • Napster
  • Spotify
  • Liquid Digital
  • Verizon V-Cast
  • Shockhound
  • Nokia
  • Amie Street
  • last.fm
  • Zune
  • MediaNet (formerly MusicNet)
  • Didiom
  • Tradebit
  • inProdicon
  • GreatIndieMusic

For more info on the costs of CD baby’s digital music distribution go to the link below:-



Written by Tamika Simon