Digital and Physical Distribution. Online and Offline. MP3s and Physical CDs.
Once you have finished music you’ll want to start selling it. You’ll want to make it available online at digital download stores like iTunes or Amazon, and made available to record stores around the world. There are several companies that offer online and physical distribution, each with slightly different pricing and services.
Online Digital Distribution
Online digital distribution is submitting your music to an online retailer store like iTunes or Amazon to be sold on their websites as mp3 downloads.
All 3 Digital Distribution services listed below include the following stores which are the most popular places where customers download music: iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, eMusic, Rhapsody and MySpace Music. Below this section is a complete list of the online distribution stores that each website offers.
Some online distributors will require you to submit your CD in mp3 format, but others require wav format, so it’s a good idea to have the songs on your album in both formats.
Keep in mind that just because your music is submitted to these online stores it doesn’t mean that they’ll be accepted. It’ll take about 6-8 weeks after submitting before your music is online. iTunes is usually faster, appearing online in sometimes as fast as 2 weeks.
Reverb Nation, CD Baby, and Tunecore will all charge you a fee to submit your music to online retailers. Then the online retailers will take a portion of your sales, which will range anywhere from 30-40%. Mp3s sell at $0.99 so you will receive roughly 60-70 cents per song sold, after paying the necessary fees to submit you music and keep it online.
Through Reverb Nation the cost of digital distribution is $35 per album or single per year. No extra fees for setup, the $35 will cover the setup and the first year of distribution. If you have money in your Reverb Nation Bank you can use all or part of it to pay for your album submission. They require that you upload your songs in wav format. They also require an image of your album artwork and a barcode number. If you don’t already have a barcode they will supply one for you without charging you an extra fee, but it can take up to 2 weeks before you receive your number. They will also assign all of your songs their own individual ISRC number. It’ll take about 6 weeks for your music to appear on all of the online music retailers websites. Some are faster than others, iTunes should only take about 2 weeks. I’ve also noticed that the first album you submit will take much longer than any other albums you submit later on. So, the same process for your second album submission will not take nearly as long as the first. Another option you have is the ability to give them your release date. If you do not want your album available until a certain date, you can enter a date and your music will not appear online until that date. Once your submission has been paid for they will submit your music to 34 online stores. Whether or not these stores choose to carry your music is up to them, but most of them will. For an extra $25 for a total of $60 a year per album you can upgrade to the Pro Package and get 40 stores total. You will not be able to pick and choose which retailers you want. Once you submit your album it will be submitted to all the online retailers on the list. Besides the Reverb Nation annual fee, the online retailers will take a portion of your sales. This ranges between 30%-40% depending on the retailer. Mp3s usually sell for $0.99, so you will receive about 60-70 cents per mp3 sold. So, to make your money back you would have to sell at least 50 mp3s per year.
Once your music is online and selling, it’ll take about 4 months before you can transfer money to your bank account. Your sales report will arrive about 3 months after the sale happens, then Reverb Nation holds your money for 30 days before it becomes available to transfer to your Pay pal account. You will only be able to transfer money to a Pay Pal account and not directly to your bank account.
Another option they offer you is your own personal Reverb Store. You can set this up once you have an account with them and you’ll be able to sell: Physical CDs, mp3 downloads, ringtones, and merchandise (T-Shirts, Hoodies, Tote Bags, Canvas Caps, Sports Bottles, Travel Mugs, etc.). You do not have to pay anything to maintain the store, and you will be paid immediately after a sale. You can set prices to whatever you want and they will take a predetermined amount for every item sold. So, there will be no need to pay them since they take their portion first and send you the rest.
CD Baby’s digital distribution service is $49 for a one-time setup fee per album or a $13 one-time setup fee per single. After your one-time fee CD Baby will then charge you 9% of your sales for the rest of the time that your album is online. They do not charge google play balance transfer an annual fee, so if you don’t sell anything you don’t pay anything, except for your initial fee. But if you sell a lot, you will be paying them a lot. One nice thing about CD Baby is you can pick and choose which digital distribution retailers you want to sell your music on, for a total of 25 different stores. You will also need to have an album image and a barcode to submit with your music. If you need a barcode they will supply you with one for an extra $20 for an album or $5 for a single. The $49 fee also includes physical CD distribution.
Both CD Baby & Reverb Nation offer mail in or upload options to submit your music to them. So, you can upload everything to them when you sign up for their distribution service, or you can mail them a CD and they will digitize it for you. They also both offer Digital Distribution through their own websites. CD Baby will only take 10% of your mp3 digital download sales if it’s sold on their website. Most companies will take at least 30%.
Tunecore charges $50 a year per album or $10 a year per single. They also charge a set-up fee of $1 per online retail store, plus a $1 song delivery charge per song. A barcode and ISRC numbers are included. So, for example, if your CD album had 12 songs on it, you would be charged a one-time song delivery fee of $12 for all your songs, a one-time distribution fee of $18 for a submission to 18 online retailers, and $50 per year. For a total of $80 for the first year and $50 for every year after that. A single would cost roughly $29 for the first year then $10 a year after that. Like CD Baby, you have the ability to choose which retailers you would like your music on as well. So, set-up fees will vary depending on how many songs you have and how many retailers you want. They do occasionally have specials. Their 6 Year Anniversary Special offered albums for only $20 and singles for only $5, but it didn’t state how much the yearly fee would be after that. They also offer Amazon on Demand as one of their online retailers which makes your music available on Amazon as a physical CD.