3 Big Things Happening In The Music Industry In 2018

As DIY musicians, it’s important you and I keep up with what’s going on in the industry. 

iTunes

So as we welcome the new year, here are three important things happening in the music industry in 2018.

iTunes Is Removing Digital Music Downloads

As of 2016, iTunes started phasing out digital music downloads. And the plan is to finalize the whole process by 2019.

According to Digital Music News, there will be a “complete termination by 2019, shortly after the 2018 Christmas season.” And this is happening “as music downloads continue to collapse.”

If you didn’t know by now, you should — streaming is the new way of doing things. So if you’ve released music, you should get it to places like Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, and Amazon.

You can use this guide to get you started: How To Sell Your Music Online (A Guide For Beginners).

Things Will Get Better For Songwriters

In a landmark deal, the songwriting industry and music streaming companies partnered to cut a deal with the federal government, reports The Tennessean.

Without getting too much into the legal jargon, here’s what the new deal means: streaming companies will now be able to easily license songs, while songwriters and publishers should see an increase in their own digital rates.

Here’s a little more detail on what the deal will lead to:

  • “Songwriters and publishers could be identified more accurately and paid more promptly,” thanks to a soon-to-be mechanical digital rights organization run by music publishers and funded by streaming companies
  • Boosted royalty rates for songwriters, thanks to rate courts being able to look at sound recording royalty rates as a factor when they set rates for songwriters and publishers
  • More boosted royalty rates for songwriters, thanks to us being able to present as evidence for more royalties the sync licensing deals (our music in TV/film) we get.
  • ASCAP and BMI can take their rate-setting disputes to any of the federal judges for the Southern District of New York, instead of being assigned to one federal judge

The DIY Music Train Will Keep Chugging — Hop On

Now is one of the best times to be a DIY musician.

Anyone can record music in their bedroom and make it sound professional (check out the Audio Recording category for more on that). It’s so easy and affordable to distribute your music worldwide.

There are plenty of ways to make money as a musician, sometimes without even leaving home. And tools for musicians abound, like CD Baby, Patreon, and LANDR.

If you’ve been on the fence about pursuing music as your passion, as your source of income, now is the best time to jump off that fence on the right side.

How To Sell Your Music Online: A Guide For Beginners

A young musician who started making electronic music emailed me with some questions about selling music online.

How to sell your music online

And after replying to him, I realized the info could help other DIY musicians new to the music sales game.

So below are the different ways you can sell and stream your music online.

What To Expect From This Guide

This guide is by no means an exhaustive list of every place you can sell music.

I’ll do a quick review with pros and cons of different websites I’ve used or have heard good things about.

This is a guide for beginners, after all.

Just so you’re aware, people nowadays are buying music less and streaming it more, and streaming revenues are pretty terrible (I received $0.80 for a few hundred streams of my music).

The idea here is to get exposure for your music on the biggest music streaming/selling platforms out there.

So let’s take a look at a few options for selling and streaming your music online.

Bandcamp

Sell music online
A screenshot of my Bandcamp page

Full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of Bandcamp, as a musician and a consumer.

It’s simple — create an account for free, upload your songs, start selling directly to your fans, and collect up to 85% of sales (BC takes 15% from all digital music sales, 10% from merch sales — see here).

Plus, they’ve designed simple and cool customizable artist pages, and the embeddable players look great.

Pros

  • Free to sign up and list your music
  • Fair revenue share pricing
  • Good looking design

Con

  • No compensation for song streams

CD Baby

CD Baby

I use CD Baby to get my music on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and a bunch of other digital music stores. The cost options are Free, Standard for $49, or Pro for $89 (see image above), then they take 9% commission from digital sales.

Plus, they have additional services, like song mastering, sync licensing, and they’ll even make physical CDs for you.

Pros

  • Distribution to nearly every digital store
  • One-time distribution fee
  • They’ll make physical CDs or vinyl for you
  • Mastering services

Con

  • To distribute your music, you need to buy a UPC (Universal Product Code) — an additional $5 for a single or $20 for an album

Tunecore

Tunecore

Tunecore and CD Baby essentially do the same thing — distribute your music to almost every digital music store. They also will press physical CDs for you, among other similar services. But there’s one big difference — the way Tunecore works is they charge an annual fee for each release.

So, for example, if I distribute three albums for $30 each, I’m paying $90 a year to keep them listed. If I don’t have $90 worth of digital sales per year, I’m losing money. However, to balance this, they don’t take any sales commission.

Years ago, I worked with Tunecore to distribute my music, but sadly I wasn’t selling enough music back then to break even. So I switched to CD Baby and have been with them ever since.

But it depends on your situation — Tunecore might be a great fit for you.

Pros

  • Distribution to nearly every digital store
  • You keep 100% of your sales commission
  • They’ll make physical CDs for you
  • Mastering services

Con

  • Annual fee per album and per single

Music Licensing

Audiosocket and Musicbed

Music licensing — allowing someone like a filmmaker to use your song in their video in exchange for a fee — can be a nice money-maker. You can earn anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars per song used, and you can often license the same song multiple times.

Musicbed and Audiosocket seem like great starting places for musicians who want to get into this industry, especially electronic musicians and composers.

Want More Info?

If you’d like a super in-depth review of some of these websites and many others, I’d recommend checking out Ari Herstand’s review over on aristake.com. He did so much work on it. It’s a lot of info, but worth the read.

Also, you should pick up Herstand’s super helpful book How To Make It in the New Music Business. It’s thick like the Bible — it’s the DIY musician’s bible.

Hope this post helps!


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Top 4 Places Where You Can Discover New Music (For Free!)

I’m a music hoarder, if that’s actually a thing. I love, love discovering new music.

Music and the brain
*not an accurate depiction of me

Finding and supporting independent artists gives me a rush. I dig through piles of mediocre music to get to the stuff I can’t stop playing.

And here are four of the websites (or apps) I use to discover new music.

Instagram

Instagram (image via Adweek)

In the world of music discovery, Instagram is the surprise player — the underdog.

But thanks to hashtags, we now have even more unknown but amazing artists to find. Like James Beau Barclay — I found him through the #originalmusic hashtag. Other good ones are #singersongwriter and #acousticpeople.

Bandcamp

Bandcamp

I know you’re supposed to save the best for last, but I’m too excited about this one.

Bandcamp is where you can discover music that the artists have uploaded themselves and sell on their own terms. The platform is simple, which makes it easy to find great music.

And there’s a lot of it on this website. Check out my Bandcamp Collection and Wishlist to see what music I’ve discovered.


RELATED: Bandcamp: social media for music


Spotify

You knew this one would be on the list. It’s an app that has changed the music industry, for better or for worse.

You can find pretty much any artist or song here, which is pretty amazing when you think about it. You can easily save artists you like and make your own playlists (perfect for curating party music).

Despite the controversy surrounding Spotify, it’s a great place to find new music.


RELATED: In the streaming age of music, songwriters need loyal fans

RELATED: Spotify: $0.80 Is Better Than $0.00


Pandora

Pandora (photo via TechCrunch)

Pandora isn’t as customizable as Bandcamp or Spotify — there’s no way to listen only to music you’ve liked/bookmarked. But it’s unique in that it delivers only music you love (as a part of the Music Genome Project).

Like, that time I kept hearing this one song on my Pandora stations. Eventually, I jotted down the artist’s name and the name of the song.

It turned out to be Gregory Alan Isakov’s “The Stable Song.” Because of Pandora, Isakov gained a new fan.