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Best Places to Upload Music for Indie Musicians

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Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Here’s a shocking statistic: Music streaming makes up 84 percent of music industry revenue in the US. In other words: the vast majority of people listen to music via streaming services like SoundCloud, Spotify, and Apple Music. This also means if you’re not streaming your music you’re missing out. Thankfully, it’s never been easier to upload your music to the world’s biggest streaming platforms. What’s more, many of these streaming services make it easier than ever for indie artists to get discovered and further their music career.

So where is the best place for you to upload your music to build a buzz and boost your sales? As an independent artist, knowing where to post your songs to reach music discovery worldwide is paramount in today’s world.

Top music streaming platforms

Knowing where to upload your music can be a bit overwhelming. After all, there are so many digital platforms vying for your business, and they all have their pros and cons. (Not to mention the fact that the rules of the game are constantly changing, and sometimes changing dramatically.)

Below are the best places to upload your music. I’m going to split them into two groups: sites where you can sign up directly, and sites where you need to go through a digital music distributor.

Direct uploads

These are the sites where you don’t need a distribution deal — you can directly upload your music.

Your music artist website

OK, yes, your personal music artist website is unlikely to be one of the world’s biggest streaming platforms, but before you go posting your songs on Soundcloud or YouTube, you need to make sure you have your website set up and looking professional. Think of your websites your base of operations. Someone may have heard one of your songs somewhere and want to know more information. This is where you will provide that. It’s also on place the best places to upload music. So, check out a platform like Bandzoogle and do this first.

Bandcamp

Bandcamp is a great place to upload and sell your music, and for good reasons. First of all, it’s free. Second: You don’t have to sign a deal with a distributor, you can simply go direct to Bandcamp for Artists and sign up. And third: You can earn roughly 82 percent of revenue from each sale. (I say “roughly” because it’s a little complicated, thanks to their revenue sharing program.)

So there’s really no reason not to upload your music on Bandcamp. Well, hopefully. Bandcamp was recently acquired by Songtradr and had half of its staff let go. It’s too early to see if this will significantly affect things at Bandcamp, but for now, at least, it’s still business as usual as far as artists go.

Maximize your audience and earnings with our distribution services

YouTube

Once your website is up and running, consider uploading your music to the world’s largest streaming platform: YouTube. Plenty of artists have been discovered here, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be next.

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a video creator, YouTube is going to be your friend. Your goal on the platform is for it to be a place for fans to get to know your personality — so think of visual ways in which to show off your strengths. Maybe it’s clips from your live shows, maybe it’s music videos or covers of popular songs. Offer music lessons, music business tips, live-streaming events for your fans, etc.

TikTok

TikTok is one of the biggest social media platforms in the world, so if you can get traction on this site, you can reach millions of people. It happens all the time and is another development transforming the music industry and the traditional notion of signing with a record label.

TikTok’s audience tends to skew younger than on other sites, so if your music appeals to younger folks, you should strongly consider being on this platform.

There are two ways to get your music on TikTok. One is to simply upload your music as a video in much the same way that you upload to YouTube. And just like on YouTube, this can be a great way to show off not just your music but also your personality. But if you want to monetize your music on TikTok, you’ll need to go through a music distributor, which is covered in the next section.

Two other things to consider before uploading your music to TikTok:

  • Security concerns. Some folks are a bit nervous about going onto a site that has such strong connections with the Chinese government. You need to decide for yourself how much of a concern this is for you.
  • A possible banning. Owing to the above-mentioned security concerns, US politicians have recently been threatening to outlaw the site. One musician I spoke with worried that if the ban goes into effect, they will lose all the content they created for the site. Possibly, though you can easily post the same video content on YouTube as well, so your content would still be online.

SoundCloud

SoundCloud is one of the largest music platforms in the world, offering over 200 million songs and featuring 175 million active monthly users, and it’s an especially popular platform for hip hop and electronic music. SoundCloud is a great website for collaborating with others because you can post up to three hours of audio for free. If you want to monetize your music through SoundCloud, you’ll have to sign up for their Next Pro service, which costs $99/year.

Digital music distribution

Now we’re going to explore the sites where you can only upload your music if you go through a digital music distributor. The good news is, getting a distribution deal is easy. You simply choose a distributor, pay a fee, fill out some information, and start uploading your music. You will get to choose where your music will be made available. When you have sales, your distributor will collect the money, take a small percentage of your sales, and pay you the rest.

Which distributor is best for you?

There are a number of great vendors out there, and deciding which music distributor is best for you can be a bit overwhelming, though at the end of the day, you will be fine choosing any one of the big three: CD Baby, Distrokid, or Tunecore.

OK, so now you know how to get on to all the platforms — which ones should you focus on?

Apple, Amazon, Pandora

Once you have a distributor, you will be able to upload your music to each of these platforms (as well as TikTok). These are all great sites, and if you want to reach a wide audience and sell your music, you need to be on all of them.

Spotify

This one is a little tricky to fully recommend. On the plus side, after YouTube, Spotify is the second-largest global streaming platform, with 271 million active monthly users. Beyond its extensive user base, Spotify holds the top spot as the preferred streaming service for listeners across all music genres, except perhaps for hip-hop and electronic music.

Aside from a huge potential audience, Spotify also offers valuable tools for musicians, including Playlists, Canvas, Clips, Discovery Mode, Marquee, the ability to sell merch, and more. These tools are helpful when you’re promoting new music.

Now for the bad news: In November of 2023, Spotify announced some major—and highly problematic—changes to their royalty accounting. These changes, set to go live in 2024, will ultimately result in stealing royalties from indie artists like you and funneling that money to major-label artists. No, we’re not kidding.

So… as of December 2023, the jury is out on whether you want to upload your music to Spotify. Yes, it’s a great place for exposure, but unless this royalty-theft issue is taken care of, it’s hard to recommend it.

Beyond digital: Physical media

Given the supremacy of digital distribution these days, is there any role for physical media, like CDs and vinyl LPs? The answer is a resounding yes — especially if you perform live.

First of all, physical media isn’t going away anytime soon, and if Record Store Day is any predictor, music stores are gaining momentum every year. Both CDs and vinyl each brought in over half a billion dollars in sales in 2022, and both CDs and vinyl sales are growing. People are still buying physical media.

Second, there’s the profit factor. Depending on what CD package you buy (and the quantity you order), a CD might cost you between $1 and $2.50 each. You can easily sell your CDs for $10-$15 a pop at your gigs. Let’s say in the worst-case scenario you paid $2.50 for your CD and sold it for $10. That’s $7.50 in profit. To earn $7.50 from Spotify, you would have to get 2,358 streams (at their current rate of $0.00318 per stream).

Third, there’s the memento factor. As much as people love the convenience of being able to stream music, at the end of the day, people still love to own things. They like to organize their collections and display their favorite vinyl albums on their walls and/or look at the packaging while listening to the music. Plus, people like to have mementos from your live shows.

So, yes, find the best place to upload your music and distribute your music online, but you should also sell CDs and vinyl records at your shows.

How to Make More Money With Music, the Complete Guide

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About Scott McCormick

Scott McCormick is a musician and the author the Audible bestselling Rivals! series and the hit fantasy novel The Dragon Squisher. Scott can be reached at storybookediting@gmail.com.

One thought on “Best Places to Upload Music for Indie Musicians

  1. Sounds like the big labels have infiltrated Spotify to make them steal from the poor and give to the rich. As for bandcamp. I’ve been on bandcamp for the better part of two years, and have never had even one sale. Not sure why, but I’m considering quitting that place. Youtube on the other hand seems very useful, and I get quite a lot of streams from there. My biggest issue is creating videos. No problem creating music and vocals, but videos are a whole different level. Any suggestions?

    Thanks –

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