As more artists avoid traditional record labels to forge their own paths, the role of the independent distributor has become vital. Navigating the complexities of the music industry can be a daunting task for independent artists. And with its ever-changing landscape, finding the right path to success can be challenging.
Thankfully, independent music distributors have emerged as a powerful tool for indie musicians. Artists who partner with an independent distributor maintain creative control and ownership of their music. This way, indie artists receive a more significant percentage, if not all, of the royalties earned. And it affords them flexibility regarding marketing, distribution, and deadlines.
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This article will examine the core benefits to indie artists when they opt for independent distribution. But first, let's define what an independent distributor and an independent artist is.
What is an Independent Artist?
An indie (or independent) artist is a musician who creates, produces, distributes, and markets their own music. And they do so without the support or backing of a major record label or a large corporate entity.
As such, indie musicians are typically not bound by commercial pressures to create music that fits a particular genre or demographic. But because they do almost everything themselves, they often have less reach than mainstream artists. That said, the connection with their fans is usually stronger.
These musicians rely on alternative distribution channels to promote and sell their music. Online streaming services and social media platforms generally form part of their marketing strategy. And that’s where an independent music distributor comes in.
Overall, indie musicians are known for their determined spirit, creativity, and commitment to making music on their own terms.
What is an Independent Distributor?
Independent distributors are responsible for getting your music out to the world without the help of a major record label. Independent artists use independent distributors to distribute their music to various music download and streaming platforms. It’s through the distributor that your music is published to platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal.
But not all music distribution companies offer precisely the same services. The platforms available to you will depend on the distributor’s relationship with those platforms. Therefore, your music may reach more platforms with some independent distributors than with others.
And while certain independent distributors focus solely on distribution, others offer additional services. Therefore, finding an independent distributor that can help with more than one aspect of their career would be beneficial.
For instance, Sugo Music Group is an independent distributor with 38 years of experience in music distribution. But this distributor also provides music publishing services. Therefore, Sugo Music Group will distribute your music globally to over 200 download and streaming platforms. And it can ensure your music is registered correctly, so you receive the royalties you deserve.
Working with an independent music distributor can lighten an indie artist’s workload and boost their success. With an exceptional distributor like Sugo Music Group by your side, you can enjoy the wonderful benefits of being an independent artist.
The Benefits of Independent Music Distribution for Indie Artists
It’s time to explore the primary benefits you can expect as an artist when you opt for independent music distribution. Let’s dive in.
Greater Creative Control
Your music is a result of your unique vision and expression. Even if your perspective and influences change over time, you should be free to explore them. Sadly, labels often impose learned or industry-standard approaches to songwriting and recording that can compromise this.
One of the most significant benefits of independent distribution is the freedom to maintain complete creative control over your music. Indie artists have the final say in how their music is presented, packaged, and marketed. And this allows them to stay true to their vision and maintain their artistic integrity.
Another advantage of independent music distribution is that you’ll receive a higher revenue share. This can be a game-changer for independent artists who rely on their music for a living.
Record labels usually take a significant share of any revenue earned for sales, streams, or performances. Some bigger labels are believed to make up to five times more than the artists themselves.
However, independent distributors typically receive only a minimal percentage of the revenue from streaming and sales. Irrespective, you’ll keep all the revenue generated from merchandise, gigs, festivals, etc., which you'd typically share with a record label.
Opportunity for Direct Fan Engagement and Relationship Building
Distributing your music independently also allows for direct fan engagement. And with the help of social media, artists can easily connect directly with their fans. Musicians can respond to fan comments and feedback and even crowdsource ideas for new music.
This direct communication often leads to a loyal fan base passionate about your music. Indie music fans generally tend to be more dedicated to their favorite artists. As such, they’re more likely to support you through streams, purchases, merchandise, and live performances.
Access to Niche Markets
When an indie artist joins forces with an independent distributor, they can access niche markets that major labels may not be interested in. Independent artists can explore and reach out to their target audiences and build a loyal fan base within their niche market.
For instance, your music might target a young audience or children. Perhaps you write relaxation music for dogs. Or maybe you want to release a song or album in a different language. No matter the audience, you get to choose where your music is distributed to reach them.
Flexibility in Release Schedules
Creativity can’t and shouldn’t be forced. But record labels often expect you to meet specific deadlines, and the quality of your music can suffer as a result. And when your creative essence is lacking, your fans will notice, and they could lose interest.
Using an independent distributor gives you more flexibility in terms of release schedules. As an independent artist, you can release music according to your own schedule without the pressure of meeting label demands.
This leaves room for you to create music as inspiration strikes. And it aids in maintaining the integrity, substance, and artistry of your expression, which will resonate more with your fans.
Control Over Metadata and Rights Management
Independent artists have control over their music's metadata. This includes information provided with releases, such as song titles, album art, and release dates.
Controlling this allows you to ensure your music is presented the way you intend and that all rights are managed correctly. This way, you have complete ownership of your music. And you’ll be in a position to compensate all role players accordingly.
Metadata input and rights management also fall under music publishing. And some independent distributors, like Sugo Music Group, provide this service to musicians. Therefore, ensure you receive the proper performance rights, mechanical, and synchronization royalties, and have a professional take care of this.
Experiment with Different Distribution Models
Artists can experiment with different distribution services when they distribute their music independently. For example, you could try different approaches such as album motion art, pre-save links, limited releases, or exclusive freebies.
This allows you to test and determine what distribution strategies work best for your music and fan base. And it could be a great way to build trust and nurture loyalty in your brand as a musician.
It’s an opportunity to enhance accessibility for new listeners to your music. And it allows you to build a deeper connection with your die-hard fans.
Access to Detailed Data Analytics and Insights
When working with a record label, you may not see the data related to your downloads, streams, etc. As an indie artist working with an independent distributor, you'll have access to detailed data analytics and insights.
This data can be used to help you learn more about your fan base. You’ll be able to analyze the reach and impact of your music, which could influence your strategy going forward. For instance, you’ll be in a position to make more informed decisions about marketing, touring, and promoting your music.
Opportunity to Collaborate with Other Independent Artists
As an indie artist distributing your own music, you have the freedom to entertain collaborative opportunities with other artists. There would be no need to ask your record label for permission to work with another artist. You can work with whomever you choose as an independent artist.
When collaborating with another artist, their audience will get to know you and your music. This could lead to them following you on social media. And they may even add your music to their library or playlist on their favorite streaming platform. Given this, collaboration can lead to increased exposure, more significant fan bases, and new growth opportunities.
The Challenges of Distributing Your Music Independently
The benefits of being an independent artist far outweigh those of being a mainstream artist. But embracing the indie artist approach and distributing your music through an independent distributor does have its challenges.
Limited Resources for Marketing and Promotion
One of the principal challenges for an indie artist is having limited resources for marketing and promotion. When working with an independent music distributor, indie artists need to be creative and find ways to get their music heard through grassroots marketing and community building.
Difficulty Standing Out in a Crowded Market
Another challenge is gaining the level of publicity needed to be seen among the millions of other artists competing for attention. Major record labels have their own social media pages with legions of followers. And some have close ties with key role players on streaming platforms.
As an indie artist, getting your name out there with a simple post on the label’s Instagram page isn’t an option. And convincing a music curator at Spotify to add your release to a prominent Spotify playlist may not work. Therefore, you’ll need to build your own relationships and find other ways to distinguish yourself from the rest.
Lack of Established Industry Connections
Independent artists often lack established industry connections. And this can make it difficult to get their music into the hands of influential industry professionals. A lack of contacts can be a significant disadvantage when it comes to gaining exposure, booking shows, etc. Therefore, when working with an independent distributor, indie artists must learn to network and forge friendships within the industry to further their careers.
Strategies for Successful Independent Music Distribution
Building a Strong Online Presence Through Social Media and Streaming Platforms
Building a solid online presence is one of the most essential strategies for successful independent music distribution. This includes creating profiles on streaming platforms, such as Spotify and Apple Music, and social media platforms, like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
Independent artists can increase their reach and gain more exposure by consistently sharing new music, engaging with fans, and building a community.
Leveraging Grassroots Marketing and Community Building
Grassroots marketing and community building are also critical for independent music distribution. Indie artists can create a network of supporters by connecting with fans and building a loyal fan base. These fans will likely help to promote your music through word of mouth, social media, and other channels.
Collaborating with Other Artists and Industry Professionals
Collaboration is another vital strategy when distributing your music independently. These collaborations can take many forms, including guest features, remixes, and co-writing. By working with other artists and industry professionals, you can increase their exposure, gain new fans, and learn new skills.
Focusing on Quality and Authenticity over Quantity
Independent artists should focus on the quality of their music instead of the quantity produced. Rather than trying to release as much music as possible, focus on creating the best music you can. This will go a long way to making a genuine connection with your fans. And it may help you stand out in a crowded market and build a loyal fan base.
It’s clear that there are many benefits for artists who distribute their music independently. These benefits include greater creative control, higher revenue share, direct fan engagement, access to niche markets, and flexibility in release schedules.
However, it also comes with challenges, such as limited resources for marketing and promotion and difficulty standing out in a crowded market.
That said, with the right independent distributor, you won’t have to worry about getting your music out into the world. And with Sugo Music Group as your distribution partner, you’ll no longer need to concern yourself with distribution, publishing, and rights management.
Working with a seasoned music distributor like Sugo Music Group will free up more of your time. This is time you can spend focusing on your music, marketing efforts, and community-building.