Layne is a millenial. She likes researching topics related to millennialism for entertainment and information purposes.
Best Music Streaming Platforms for Musicians
Getting your music out there and making money from it is a two-step process. It's not just about simply uploading it to a streaming platform, you also need to secure a distributor to use these platforms. In an ideal scenario, you would already be represented by your record label, but for many independent artists who wish to be in charge of their royalties and own promotional efforts and creative freedom, you likely will need a distribution network in order to use major platforms like Spotify.
Some popular, well-known streaming platforms include:
- Apple Music
- YouTube Music
- Amazon Music
- Google Play
How Can I Make Money Fast With Music?
While there really isn't a fast way to make money off your music, unless your content goes viral (or after putting a lot of effort into your craft you get noticed, e.g., Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, Soulja Boy), you can take the necessary steps to get your music some visibility across common platforms.
Per-Stream Figures (Royalties) and Pay for Musicians
These figures are from Dittomusic.com:
- Spotify $0.00437 per stream
- Apple Music $0.00783 per stream
- YouTube Music $0.00069 per view
- Tidal $0.01284 per stream
- Amazon Music $0.00403 per stream
- Napster $0.019 per stream
- Google Play Music $0.00676 per stream
Napster pays out the highest and YouTube the lowest. If you look at Spotify, for example, 10,000 plays equates to 43.70 dollars.
How to Sell Your Music Online
Spotify is a well-known platform with millions of users and paid subscribers. Spotify works with companies that license and distribute music for independent artists (who would otherwise be responsible for distributing music themselves). The benefit is that artists earn royalties when their music is streamed after securing a preferred distributor.
Spotify allows musicians to pitch unreleased playlists and songs. The account service runs off of a free rev-share model for music hosting and algorithms help to drive listeners to your music via free streaming. You can also sign up for a Premium account, but the free service is ad-suppoorted as well. One caveat is that Spotify does require you to have a distributor. Their list of preferred distributors include:
- CD Baby
- Record Union
- Horus Music
You will need an account with one of these (detailed below).
How much money can you earn on Spotify?
Spotify operates on a per-stream payout. The most recent projection is between $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream, so you can multiply that by an estimated 1,000 for an idea of how much you would earn with 1,000 listens.
How to Set Up an Artist Account on Spotify
- Secure your record label or distributor (Spotify provides a directory to choose from)
- Go to Spotify.com
- Find the section of the page at the bottom "For Artists"
- Click "Claim Your Profile"
- Here you can edit your profile, promote new releases, create your playlists, and set your tour schedule. Keep an active presence.
Approved Distributors on Spotify
Spotify lists preferred distributors on their site—this is necessary unless you have a record label. Here are a few of the highest recommended:
TuneCore costs $9.99/year per single but artists receive 100% of royalties and get to use great tools for promoting their music. Here's how to get started:
- Sign up for a TuneCore account
- Select your release type (single or album)
- Upload your music and artwork (cover art)
- Add any contributors on the project so that they also get credit
- Wait for your music to appear on Spotify once approved by TuneCore
- View sales and streaming performance.
CD Baby allows for CD/vinyl distribution, digital downloads, and marketing on their platform. Artists get 91% of royalties. It costs around $9.95 for a single.
DistroKid charges $20 a year and pays artists monthly 100% of their royalties.
SoundCloud is an open-audio platform and offers free service/hosting options for artists (independent, unsigned) to promote their music on social media. When visiting the site, simply click "For Creators" and get started uploading.
Is SoundCloud free?
SoundCloud offers different types of subscriptions. The platform is said to be larger than Spotify, however, the content might not be as high-quality. This platform allows you to distribute content across social networks. Simply share a signal track across Twitter, Tumblr, Wordpress, etc. All you have to do is create a profile with your display name, add a high-quality image, bio, and any social links you wish to include.
With the "Basic" unpaid service, you get up to three hours of uploads and stats based on how well your music is performing as well as embed controls. When uploading your content, keep the titles appropriate and make sure that you tag both genre and mood. SoundCloud lets you distribute your content and also offers legal protection of original works.
Is Audiomack Better Than SoundCloud?
On SoundCloud, your content is recommended algorithmically based on the genre tags you select, so choose appropriate. You can share your content with other creators and also promote your music on this platform. Audiomack, in comparison to SoundCloud, doesn't have a limitation on how much music you can share and has recently begun to monetize user uploads.
Should you use Bandcamp? Bandcamp is another great music distribution platform for independent artists. It does take a cut of artist earnings based on processing fees, but accounts are totally free for artists. Here's how to get starting:
- Sign up as an artist with your name and email
- Choose your music genre (maximum of 5 tags)
- Choose your location
- Choose a domain
- Upload your music as a .wav, .aif. or .flac file
- Add great visual media to support your content
Which is better SoundCloud or Bandcamp?
Bandcamp is better for independent artists and helps to build community whereas SoundCloud is consider more of a social network.
How much money do artists get from Bandcamp?
Accordingly, Bandcamp collects 15% of digital sale profits and 10% from merchandise sales. You also have to pay for services beyond "Basic."
Does Bandcamp copyright your music?
Yes, but all content online might be copied by a third party—this is true of anything publicly shared on the internet.
How to Promote Your Music
- have a strong social media presence with good visuals and media
- determine your genre
- start a website
- prepare a press kit
- have multiple social media profiles (Instagram, TikTok, YouTube)
- interact with other artists on social media
- share other artists' music on social media
Have an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) Ready
EPKs are essential and your EPK is your promo package to share with those you are pushing your music to. Here's what you'll want to include in your EPK:
- Links to your songs
- High-res images
- Music videos
- Social media profiles and links
- Direct contact
Stream Game Music on Spotify
Other Ways to Make Money as a Musician
Game audio and scoring (for short film, etc.) is an emerging avenue for making good money as a musician. While you may not necessarily be producing within the genre or in the way that you find most enriching and satisfying, you can make some extra income to fuel your craft and passion in the mean time. There are various programs online as well that specifically coach musicians into these fields and offer tips for how to break into the industry and promote your content for use.
You'll also want to check out:
- Napster: Simple streaming, highest payout
- YouTube: Start a channel and monetize it
- Apple Music: A larger platform that is good for video content (driven by Rotor Videos) and good for exposure of high-quality content
- TIDAL: Artist-owned and good for getting songs on the site and visuals; offers higher royalties and high-quality playback. Also offers options for pitching your work; best quality audio.
- Landr: $4/month, artists receive 100% of royalties
If you didn't find something on this list, consider looking into ReverbNation, Deezer, Google Play Music, Amazon (Amazon Prime Extension), and Amuse (no desktop availability, mobile only).
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2020 Layne Holmes
Layne Holmes (author) from Bend, Oregon on September 16, 2020:
Hi Liz, a good friend of mine is a serious musician and I was interested in researching it. Found out a little more than I knew! Interesting to learn that these major platforms require distributors. Take care!
Liz Westwood from UK on September 16, 2020:
I have sometimes wondered how musicians make miney from these streaming services. This is a very informative article.