Publishing music online in 2018


The way to use Spotify for people at our level (for lack of better phrasing) is probably to direct people towards our music there, rather than expecting fans to find it on their own. That’s why one needs to be everywhere, so to speak. You need to be on iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify et al. so that no matter what platform a fan uses for music you can quickly say “you can find my stuff there!”

Its the same with Bandcamp and social media. Unfortunately I think it takes being presistant boardering on rude to get noticed. One has to continually put stuff directly in front of people’s ear holes or they aren’t going to hear it.


From experience… with thousands of dance releases every week, there is no easy way to get your head above the parapet. It’s like shouting your head off next to a Function One system on full blast - no one is going to hear you.

But if you’re prepared to slog at it, you can probably waste a lot of time, money, blood, sweat and tears doing these things:

  1. Start your own label and do it properly. Get a few artists together with some musical integrity and similar-ish output. Get the material mastered by someone who mastered a release you like. Approach a distributer like PDD and see if they’ll take you on. You need a good distributer who knows what they’re doing to get into the right shops. Even with a good distributer the best shops may not take you on. Hire a good music PR firm like Additive or Dispersion that specialise in electronic music to promote you. If they like your music they’ll ask their mates who write reviews for magazines to write about you. This is more important than sending promos and press releases out (which is what you’ll actually be paying them to do), so get to know them and network. This might just create some chat about the release which you can give to your distributer which will feedback and make it easier to get your stuff placed in the right shops and on the front pages. Oh, even before release day, cry as your new release is all over the internet on pirate sites and you realise no one’s going to buy it. Then, spend hours trawling through statements from your distributer totting up £0.000003 pences from all the different streamers and £0.03 from the few people who actually buy the music.

  2. Start your own label and get a few artists together with some musical integrity and similar-ish output. Get it mastered properly. Distribute it yourself on Bandcamp. Use every waking hour networking and researching who writes reviews for which magazine/online and start building a good database. Do the same for radio and DJs. This changes constantly and is an ongoing job and there are so many of them that you could do this for 3 hours a night, every night. Build your own website including your own promo and press release portal. Write press releases and put promo packs together. Remember to tailor them to the audience, so you’ll need to do different ones for press, radio and DJs. Put together a mailing campaign, press send and wait. Repeat this for the whole period running up to the release and keep people in the loop with any features, chartings, major feedback. That’s about 6 hours a night. Did I mention you’re doing on top of holding down a professional day job?

  3. If your product is unique and especially if it is physical (e.g. you’ve pressed some vinyl up, done some tapes etc.) - go direct to the shops, turn up and play them your music. You never know.

  4. Hit the labels hard. Make an appointment to go in and see them, or just turn up on the off chance. Talk to them. Network. Maybe they won’t like that set of tracks, but maybe they will like your next EP. Turn up to their label nights and hand them some music. Chat to them. Network. Don’t be overbearing. Don’t send them demos unless they’re expecting one, as they’re busy and chances are they won’t have time to listen to a random stream link.

  5. Keep it low-key, no PR, no distribution, just release it yourself on Bandcamp, do some gigs, throw some small parties and build up a fan base in more organic way.

Non of the above will get you noticed, options 1 and 2 are expensive and you’ll never make your money back. But if you see it as an expensive hobby and keep investing in it, you might get 5 minutes of coverage.

I’ve run a few labels over the years. It was easier when everything was physical. The last label I ran, Falk (, even with reviews in DJ Mag, Mixmag, DeBug etc. radio plays cost me way more than it ever made. It was basically my expensive hobby that, in the end, I couldn’t afford to sustain.

If it’s new and fresh and different and good, it will get noticed and people will share it without any PR. If it isn’t it will just become part of the noise like the other 10,000 releases this week, next week and every week. The only people making a living out of music that is being released are the music PR companies.

Not cynical… honest gov :wink:


It is tough out there. Really tough. There is just sooo much media competing for our eyes and ears these days. And much of it is created by extremely talented and dedicated people who are making peanuts from it while holding down other jobs. It is tough to even get our fellow music gear nerds to slow down enough to listen and comment on songs!

I would say start by setting very clear-eyed realistic goals for yourself. Once achieved, set new ones. Start small, start free. If you have trouble getting listens on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and YouTube, then why would you pay $ to have no one listen on Spotify, iTunes, etc.? Test everything and reevaluate your plans while still in the free tier. Then push ahead once you start getting more and more listens, maybe a review or two, some good shows, etc… My two cents.


The cool thing about distrokid is that it’s like a blanket service for a price that’s affordable for independent artist. Streaming services like Spotify and pandora are how a major amount of people listen to and discover music now. Really services like soundcloud and bandcamp are great but are just as saturated as other avenues.
If properly tagged, genre and such people will discover your music.

I used to be totally uninterested in streaming services as a place for distributing tunes but that’s really where people are finding music.


Also, FWIW I don’t believe in giving away your music totally free. If its good, an actual fan will pay something for it. Of course you can’t charge whatever big names are charging per dance track on Beatport or Juno, but you can charge something.

People naturally tend to hoard free stuff. Storage is cheap. A download doesn’t equal a fan. Don’t give it away. Ever. (Though once you’ve got a following giving away something now and again isn’t a terrible idea). Or alternatively take the time to make a radio edit that is free, full dance single cost $.

Most of what is in my wish list on bandcamp costs something. There is a lot in there. But I chip away at it every payday.

Listens and downloads are cheap thrills. Considering the effort we put into making a final product if I have a choice between 100 free downloads and a couple people paying for my music and me using the money to buy a sixer of my favorite micro brew and getting silly over my victory, I’ll take the latter every damn day of the week.

  • Music mixed and mastered: check
  • Downloadable and buyable via Bandcamp, check
  • Streamable on all the services via DistroKid, check
  • Band custom web site, check
  • Facebook page, check
  • Live videos on YouTub, check
  • Branding and stickers produced :smile: , check

Annnnnnd… ?
Like the O.P., our aim is getting the music out there, and getting live gigs, not $
Would a net-label help here, and if so, do we need to not do the above and let the net-label do it? And how to find one?
Would a PR firm help, probably I assume… if I only knew which?


100% agree with pretty much your entire post. Sounds like you have spent many an hour pushing that boulder up the hill!


True that.


@InTheAM Yes I agree, I am also sceptic about the reoccurring advice of giving your music (or any product) away for free in exchange for recognition. Bandcamp in comparison to Spotify (which I arguably have never used so far) does not give you a flatrate but it is well equipped for discovery too.

Man, the situation is depressing and I guess I’ll have to get back to my day-job.
I guess making music now is a pastime as much it is for listeners.


I listen to tons of incredible music every year. I am amazed by the creativity and sheer beauty tumbling out of the internet and into my headphones. If I stop for a minute and try and recall some of the artists that I have discovered just in 2017 whose work I listened to in amazement… and then ask myself, okay, when’s the last time I checked in with them or listened again… I can’t think of when exactly, because there is just an avalanche of new, equally amazing work coming out each week or even day. It’s mind-boggling. And these are people with machinery behind them - PR, labels, etc. and they only temporarily caught a fragment of my attention.

I mean, I like my music. I think it’s pretty good. But if I am honest with myself, the best-case scenario I can hope for is to be a tiny part of the blur that is someone else’s musical consumption. It’s downright intimidating, and humbling. I think one has to really dive within and ask if they are okay with only making music for themselves, and if so, continue, and take whatever else comes along with a smile and a shrug.


Does it actually make sense to setup your own label to self publish?

I live in Berlin (but I am not German) and I heard “somewhere” it’s a good idea to do it anyway and the costs are low. You only need to setup a 1euro business and pay 250eur for a lifetime publishing ID or something like that … (can’t remember where I read it, or was it on a podcast/radio … damn).

Would also only do it for fun and the experience of doing it, leaving something behind. A small trace of creativity. If it touches 1 person in a 100 years… it was worth to do it.


That is a very healthy attitude. I think it’s noble to attempt to put beauty back into the world, not just products or self-aggrandizement.

To add on to what henryo was saying, I think starting a label with some like-minded artists is the way to go. If you all are very talented, have an excellent graphic artist, and a head for business and networking, and good dose of luck, this is the way to do it. I think I would also work on adding a perception of scarcity, an air of just out of reach coolness, an undeniable sense of now, and perhaps partner with others beyond the music realm - fashion, visual art, film, and see where you can help them advance their goals in return for them helping you advance yours. This definitely conjures up images of cooler-than-thou hipsters, but damn it, it seems to be what works.


my two cents…

disclaimer: At this moment I`m not a professional musician but in the past I went through all kind of phases (metal band, moving to abroad (UK), organized gigs and I know most of the established party/festival organizers in my hometown . (Budapest ~2M city, slowly becoming a new party capital in Europe)), Lately I’m trying to get back againg with my live act.

this business changed a lot in the last 10 years but the basic rules are still applies I believe:

  • keep at it!!! its not gonna happen overnight. it will take years with no guarantees at all
  • records/releases are simple business cards these days, unless you hit big. no money
  • start local, organize parties/gigs with other people and grow from there
  • a simple bandcamp/sc release worth more or less nothing
  • couple your music with other stuff… art, video, whatever…
  • have control over everything you can grasp
  • soundcloud is more or less dead btw…
  • after a while you might be able to invite other artists or labels from other cities/countries (I scratch your back you scratch mine)
  • good press is still a powerful thing… (even bloggers)
  • you have to have all aspects tight (music isn’t enough… artwork, promo, location and sound)
  • if you aim for a level in production quality(stuff above) you can`t go below that again…like ever. so always add never subtract
  • and again… KEEP AT IT… in my experience the people who ‘made it’ are has a level of commitment to the cause, that the rest of the people just can’t spare… (that is part of being a PRO)
  • don’t worry about failing… you will anyway at some point and you can learn from that.

of course I’m talking about the 98% of musicians/labels and I`m totally excluding the 2% where you just got discovered and everything is dandy.


No, I mean music videos


I was waiting for you to repost. Thanks


yeah I did hit the button early… :smiley:


I agree. Can’t hold a drop of water in your hand and look closely at it when there’s a fire-hose spraying you down. But I guess my point is less about how to appreciate and listen to music and more that, like it or not, here we are.

We are competing to be a tiny slice of the audiences attention - amateurs lined up right next to pro artists. It’s an intimidating task, even for pros with all of the PR and label machinery behind them, to stand out and catch a listener’s ear even for a complete listen, much less repeats and deep connection. I don’t think your average listener out there has your ability to focus intensely.

But I’m going to bow out now before I discourage anyone. Don’t mean to be such a downer. I just think that along with this flood of music it’s a new era. Most musicians are able to record and release easier than ever, but it is becoming the modern equivalent of playing the piano in your living room. A few friends and family might hear it, no one pays you for it, and you continue to do it simply because you enjoy it.


I don’t intend to be famous or make a living out of it. I just want to share it with as many soulmates as possible, cause I enjoy it so much myself :wink:
But it’s more and more difficult to reach anyone at all


that is a very contradicting statement my friend! :smiley: being famous is the side-effect of ‘share it with as many soulmates as possible’


Love this