"Releasing music is like the dirty dishes when you're living with roommates—if everyone just did their own, there would be no drama!"
Now I know it would never be like that, and that there's plenty of music being released drama-free to the benefit of all parties involved, but it's an interesting thought. The digital revolution has flipped everything, and there are opportunities for musicians that weren't available before. Nowadays, any schmoe can release a track. Some say this has led to a flood. But it was already flooded, and at least this is a step up from what it was before: any schmoe with money could release a track. So I decided to do an experiment in 'musiconomy' during this evolving time in the music business to see if the outlets are available and effective for me and my peers.
The DIY spirit of underground music uprisings is an inspiration to me, especially the house, DnB and punk scenes. I've heard over and over the tale of Jesse Saunders putting out the first house record on his label back in 1984. I love that story!
I've been observing the music business for a while now, so it's time for a report. Here's what I have found useful if you are looking to release your own music:
Sound Exchange is a non-profit P.R.O. that pays royalties to featured artists and copyright owners. Collects from satellite radio (such as SIRIUS XM), Internet radio (like Pandora), cable TV music channels and similar platforms for streaming sound recordings. This can be registered for even if you are with ASCAP/BMI/SESAC, it does not compete. They even have a separate fund set up that pays session musicans.
Tunecore is a digital distribution site, facilitates getting your music on iTunes, eMusic, Amazon, etc. There are others like it, but this one seems to be the most together. You can pay for a single or an album. There's a yearly fee to keep your music up on mp3 vendor sites, but its not hefty. What I like is that they get you an ISRC for free, which is valuable in tracking the sales of your music (like a barcode for digital tracks). Then, if you decide to distribute the song(s) yourself, you can encode the ISRC in the ID3 tag of your mp3. Then when you deal with Sound Exchange, you can provide the code and they can calculate your royalties from it, which brings me too:
E-Junkie is a service that provides you with a shopping cart and all the backend services you would need to put music out yourself. You simply upload your track(s) and they give you the code for the shopping cart, send customized emails to your customers with the link (which you can set to a certain amount of downloads) and all the tracking/reports. You can set up your tracks individually with a different price for a group of them (i.e. album). Price is extremely reasonable, a flat fee of $5/month. If you google "e-junkie trial coupon", you can find a coupon code. There's lots of them out there, and they do expire, but after 15 minutes of searching, I found one for a free 90 days.
If you are not using Tunecore for distribution (maybe strictly the beatport/traxsource/stompy route, which Tunecore does not deal with) or you would like the freedom to assign your own ISRC's for organizational purposes, you can register at this site. It's a one-time fee of $70, which might seem steep, but if you will be releasing a lot of tracks, it would be worth it compared to paying for each one on Tunecore.
Jaikoz Audio Tagger
Jaikoz is a software for Mac and PC that you can use to tag your mp3s. This is very useful to spice up your downloads with artwork, liner notes, credits, etc. to automatically show up on people's players. But more importantly, you can embed the ISRC. The software costs $15, but not without a FREE trial first! Once you buy the software, Jthink provides you with updates at no charge.
Well known blog site, I know this is not some big discovery! But it's great. Free to start and maintain. Tons of tip sites out there for Wordpress, pretty easy to learn. Many websites you probably don't know are done through Wordpress because they offer a great backend interface.
Plug time! You can check out my site to see how the experiment is going. A little bit about myself: Once I discovered DJing and partying, the one thing I wanted to do most was...well, DJ for parties. Like many others in my raver generation, I got my start in the biz promoting shows...cuz no one books a DJ who doesn't contribute anything else to the scene! I started working for labels and venues, promoting more and more of other people's music and shows. On the side, I keep my dream alive, working on the many Frankenstein projects I now have in my Logic folder. I sit in on as many sessions as I can and I've worked with numerous heads that are on the same search for knowledge.
From my time spent working in the music business, it has become apparent to me that if you make good music, work hard and believe in what you're doing, you will succeed. Good luck!