A lot of people, even music artists, confuse music distribution with music promotion. I see a lot of upcoming artists distribute their music and then they cross their feet (and relax), thinking they have promoted their music. So, I decided to write this article to explain the difference between music distribution and music promotion and what they entail. I will also offer advice for upcoming artists with low budget. So, let’s dive into it
So, what is music distribution?
Music distribution is simply getting your music releases (whether albums, Eps or singles) to places (or platforms) where your listeners can easily access them. Music distribution is a very important aspect of the career of any music artist. No matter how beautiful the melody of your songs are, or the depth of the messages they carry, if they don’t get to where your audience are, then your efforts in creating the music has been wasted. It’s a like a business person selling a particular goods (let’s say clothes). Imagine he has very beautiful clothes for sale, but he leaves them in his warehouse. As long as those clothes remain in his warehouse, people will never be able to buy them. But the moment he brings the clothes to his shop or boutique, people who need those clothes would see them and buy. That’s how important music distribution is for music artists.
Music distribution in Nigeria in the early 2000s
Before now, music distribution in Nigeria entailed getting your music album to one of the major CD distributors in Alaba (Lagos). Those guys had a wide connection with music stores all over Nigeria. So, if they were to distribute your music, your music CDs would be sold in music stores all over Nigeria. And when that is combined with very effective music promotion, you would become famous. However, music distribution in Nigeria has taken a complete U-turn in recent years. Nowadays, nobody buys music CDs any more (at least not like they used to). Music releases are now done on the internet. So, getting your music to those major music distributors is no longer necessary.
So, what does music distribution in Nigeria entail now?
Music distribution in recent times entails getting your music on platforms and stores where people can easily find them and stream or buy. Some of the major platforms where you can get your new music releases on includes Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Boomplay, YouTube Music, Soundcloud, etc. There are several other streaming platforms, but these are some of the major ones in the world. Audiomack is one of such and it’s gaining grounds in Nigeria. There are also stores where you can upload your music for people to buy and download, such as itunes and Amazon. In Nigeria, artists also use selar.co to sell their music albums.
However, to get your music on these streaming platforms and stores, you need to employ the services of a distribution company. Yes, as an independent artist, you cannot get your music on these platforms/ stores by yourself. Think of these distribution companies like those music distributors in Alaba back in the days. They help you get your music to major stores/platform that you cannot do yourself. But you’ll be required to pay a fee (usually yearly). There are many distribution companies available now. Some of them even offer some free services. Just google music distribution companies and you will find many of them.
What’s my advice?
After reading several reviews of the various music distribution companies, I would recommend either Distrokid or Tunecore to independent artists. It’s not free, but a yearly fee of less than $20 for unlimited uploads of all your music is not a bad deal. When you really break it down, it’s less than N1,300 per month. And I think it’s a worthy investment to get your music to major platforms/ stores. Let me say this here (even though I will still dedicate an article to write on this), getting your songs on major streaming platforms does not take the place of promoting your music. Music distribution is not the same as music promotion.
Another thing new artists do is upload their music for free download on several blogs. You may argue that it gets more people to know about your music. But in the long run, it’s better to have your music on recognized platforms. A better alternative would be for you to pay bloggers to direct all the traffic to those streaming platforms where your songs are. I will talk more on this when I write about Music promotion in Nigeria.
I believe you have learnt a lot about music distribution in Nigeria today. And I believe you will no longer confuse it with music promotion.
For further reading, you can check out this article by our friends at Cresthub on the benefits of music streaming for artists in Africa.