​7 main services for musicians

Photo by Salvatore Sena — 7 main services for musicians
Photo by Salvatore Sena

With the development of the Internet, nowadays each artist has the opportunity to earn from sales and streams of his music without managers or labels. In this article, we will give an overview of 7 major services for musicians, with which you can promote your work and receive income from it.

Bandcamp

This music resource is targeted at three categories of users: fans, artists and labels. For the first, the company provides a large selection of music in different genres, user-friendly interface and easy way to purchase favorite tracks and albums with their next download in any of several formats: MP3 V0, MP3 320, FLAC, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, ALAC, WAV or AIFF.

Artists can not only spread own music via Bandcamp but also do from their page an analog of a website. The service allows you to make a little page redesign, add music and merch for sale, upload videos, and add links to other official pages in the network.

The only drawback for performers from Ukraine is that you have to link your page to PayPal, on which Bandcamp will transfer funds from sales of music and merch. However, if you want to place your songs only for streaming, so there is no necessary to have an account on PayPal.

At the same time, it should be noted how convenient is to buy music and merchandise via Bandcamp. Thus, if some foreign websites allow doing payment only via PayPal, which is currently unavailable in Ukraine, so Bandcamp’s users can also pay for their favorite albums with a credit card. The payment amount is usually between $1 and up for a track (or even $0), so die-hard fans finally are able, by deed, not by word, prove the devotion to their favorite band, paying for a song or an album as much as they see fit. After purchase, listeners can leave their comments on tracks or album, which then will be displayed on the artist's page. This kind of feedback also works as additional advertising, showing the level of interest in an artist. In the settings, you can also specify a price for delivery in a particular region or country, which will be added to the amount of merch while buying.

Also the resource has a few additional, but very useful options: Following (a listener will receive notifications about artist’s new music and merch on his email), Send as Gift and Wishlist (this one works great together with Send as Gift).

For the label, the account on Bandcamp costs from $20 per month for up to 15 artists and $50 per month for unlimited artists. Regular users and bands can register for free. If you have a basic account, the service makes money through a revenue share on sales, which is 15% for digital, 10% for merch. After reaching $5,000 USD, the revenue share on digital drops from 15% to 10%. For $10 per month, an artist can use Bandcamp Pro, which gives deeper stats, private streaming, rename domain .bandcamp.com into .com, batch upload, video, etc.

The service also has apps for iOS and Android, which are essentially just mobile versions of the site, since they can not be used to purchase music or listen to it offline.

Advantages Disadvantages
Free registration and music uploads, user-friendly interface Linking to your PayPal account to receive funds from the sale of music and merch
You can upload music and video in various formats both for sale and for listening to (in the second case, there is no necessary to link your Bandcamp page to PayPal) While you’re using free account, Bandcamp will take money through revenue share on sales
Supported audio formats (MP3 V0, MP3 320, FLAC, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, ALAC, WAV, AIFF) and video formats (MP4, H.264, AAC, VP8, ProRes, WMV, WMA, Ogg, etc.)
You can sell music and merch (discs, vinyl, cassettes, clothes, etc.)
You can get extra money from your buyers while selling music (users can add bonus amount to your price)
The fast-growing and paying capacity audience (according to official statistics, fans have paid artists $195 million using Bandcamp)
Feedback (comments on the artist's page, left by buyers)
Apps for iOS and Android

YouTube

The main mastodon of video hosting on the Internet allows not only upload videos, music and images, but also to make money on their views. For this purpose, the user can monetize a content or cooperate directly with advertisers. But it's worth doing if you have a large number of subscribers and consequently views, as well as the regular release of videos. If we talk about the promotion of its own brand, so, according to official statistics, the service currently has over a billion users, which is almost one-third of all people on the Internet.

Remembering the hype about the billion views of PSY’s video "Gangnam Style" PSY, which in 2012 became a real cultural event of the year, or the success of the original video "Knock Knock" by the Ukrainian band Brunettes Shoot Blondes, which has appeared not only in the publications of the music sites, but also on big technology news and media networks such as The Verge, we can confidently say: conquer YouTube and you will conquer the whole world.

Advantages Disadvantages
Free registration and unlimited uploads, user-friendly interface You can’t upload file larger than 2GB
Huge audience (over 1 billion)

In some countries, the service is not officially available (China, North Korea, Pakistan, etc.) a certain content may not be viewed for some users (for example, video from the "blacklist" of GEMA were not available in Germany up to November 2016)

You can earn on your content Censorship of YouTube. You can’t monetize a content, which is, for whatever reasons, considered inappropriate for advertising. Also, YouTube does not count views from sites where it is possible to cheat (eg, VKontakte)
YouTube Help Center with step by step instructions on how to work with the service In YouTube’s Trending, you can usually find some viral videos with clickable headlines, which are not worth watching
You can upload videos of different qualities and formats (it support 4K and 8K, 3D, and 360-degree panoramic video) According to various reports, there are more than 140 million videos on YouTube and this number is constantly growing. That’s why to promote your video, especially for a channel with a small activity, you will need to raise additional resources


You can upload music and images, making a slide show
YouTube’s Creator Studio helps to manage your channel by creating and editing videos, using free sound effects and music
Apps for iOS and Android

Vimeo

This video hosting was founded a year earlier than YouTube, but its popularity considerably inferior to competitors. The main feature of Vimeo is the quality of its content. For example, YouTube has unlimited uploads, and free Vimeo Basic account offers only 500 MB per week and 25 GB per year. Such conditions are absolutely not suitable for such users, who want to upload their videos regularly and aren’t ready to spend extra money for paid accounts: Vimeo Plus for $5, Vimeo PRO for $17 or Vimeo Business for $50 per month, each of them has its tangible advantages, such as the ability to upload videos in 4K Ultra HD (which, however, is also available on YouTube), or get help with the video creation or doing business.

This advanced and paid functionality mainly attracts artists, musicians, and producers who wish to demonstrate their works (which will not be lost in a flow of useless "Trending" videos on YouTube) to colleagues and fans. However, the competition on this site is no lower, because here the number of quality videos is very high. Another important difference is the continuous selection of the content by Vimeo team — almost all the videos, shown on the main page, are marked with "Staff Pick" in their upper right corner. It should be also noted a loyal censorship and legal policy of the service, where you will see NSFW videos, as well as videos from GEMA’s "blacklist" more often than on YouTube.

Since Vimeo is a free ads space, you can earn money through pay-per-view of your content. To start to make a profit, you will need not only a sufficient number of subscribers but a paid account Vimeo PRO (the site offers a free trial month).

Advantages Disadvantages
Free basic account

Limited uploads for free account: 500MG per week and 25GB per year

High quality and speed of uploads, which are available with paid accounts and much more better than on YouTube You can upload only videos
You can earn on the views of your content You have to make a paid account to monetize your content. Much more smaller number of audience compared to YouTube
Different sub-categories as Staff Pick or Worth Seeing, etc.
Audience. Vimeo is aimed at a creative audience, so there is a much higher chance of getting a meaningful and constructive criticism
Apps for iOS and Android

ReverbNation

ReverbNation is an online platform to promote artists. However, in comparison with the aforementioned Bandcamp, it supports a very limited number of audio formats: WAV (44.1Khz, 16 bit), and MP3 (192 kbps — 320 kbps, 44.1 or 48 KHz).

The resource allows you not only to upload your songs and share them with a music player on the other social networks, but also to link your account to Spotify, iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Music for selling. In addition to free registration, ReverbNation also has paid accounts ($9.95 or $19.95 per month, with two free trial months), which help to promote music more effectively. For example, after downloading a song, you will have several options for its availability — streaming only, download only, download and streaming, exclusive download, private or RPK only (available with ReverbNation Press Kit). Also, you can promote your music with advertising.

If you have a basic free account, you can add videos, tour dates, photos, and links to other accounts in social networks, all news can be automatically posted from ReverbNation on Facebook.

Advantages Disadvantages
Free basic account;

Own music player which allows to share music in the network;

You can link your account to Spotify, iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Music for music sales;

You can add video, photos and tour dates.
Limited number of supported audio formats

You can share news from ReverbNation to other social networks with just one click;

Private streams;

Several options for sharing a content and its promotion;

You can promote music with advertising;

Apps for iOS and Android.

SoundCloud

This service allows sharing and listening to various audio files for free. With paid accounts for €5 or €9 per month (€45 and €99 per year, respectively), the user is also able to upload without limits and use deeper stats.

SoundCloud supports AIFF, WAVE (WAV), FLAC, ALAC, OGG, MP2, MP3, AAC, AMR and WMA files with maximum size of 5 GB. For a Free user, you can upload a total of 180 minutes (3 hours). Back in day, the service has supplanted MySpace due to its simplicity and convenience as well as possibility to share recordings in the network.

SoundCloud has social networking features, allowing its users to send messages or tracks to each other, and leaving comments to any part of the composition.

Music lovers have also appreciated SoundCloud applications for iOS and Android. Android app can record sound and immediately upload it to the site. Also, the service allows to listen to music in offline mode with SoundCloud Go, but unfortunately, this function is only available to US residents who own paid account.

Advantages Disadvantages
User with a free account can upload a total of 180 minutes (3 hours) Content monetization is only available to US residents, as well as listening to music in offline mode
Supported audio formats: AIFF, WAVE (WAV), FLAC, ALAC, OGG, MP2, MP3, AAC, AMR, and WMA files
Own music player which allows to share music in the network
Private streams
You can sell music through the site by adding links to the shops
You can promote music with advertising
You can send messages, adding tracks to them
Apps for iOS and Android

Google Play Music and iTunes

We have already written about iTunes and Google Play Music, so now we try to consider these services from the perspective of musicians.

In fact, they both work the same way: for uploading content to iTunes or Google Play Music, you should use one of the aggregators. Of course, you can work directly with Apple and Google, but you will have to fill in forms and submit tax information.

For a fee, Apple and Google-approved aggregators will deliver your songs in different online stores from iTunes and Google Play Music to Spotify and Amazon (most often, the sites work with more than 100 stores), and then will transfer payments from the sales to your PayPal account. Most of these sites (eg, DistroKid or TuneCore) have a zero commission for selling music, but some of them, like CDbaby, can take an extra %. The cost of the aggregators’ services is completely different, fees can be charged for one single or for a few albums. Some sites offer an annual or monthly subscription with unlimited download.

Based on personal experience, the disadvantage of aggregators can be the probability of music leaking on the Internet. But such problem is mainly related to small Russian stores, which services can be refused in advance.

An important reason to use Google Play Music and iTunes is a number of music fans using their services. In 2014, CEO Tim Cook said that Apple had nearly 800 million iTunes accounts. As for Google Play Music, there is no specific information about the number of its users, but, according to Business Insider last year's statistics, this is one of the most popular streaming services for today.

Unfortunately, it should be clarified that the number of users does not affect too much on profits of underground bands.

Google Play Music iTunes
Advantages

Huge audience;

Unlimited uploads;

User-friendly interface;

Supported formats: MP3 (.mp3), AAC (.m4a), WMA (.wma), FLAC (.flac), OGG (.ogg), DRM protected AAC (.m4p), ALAC (.m4a).

Huge audience;

Unlimited uploads;

User-friendly interface;

Supported and converted formats: MP3, AIFF, WAV, MPEG-4, AAC and Apple Lossless (.m4a).
Disadvantages

Underground bands don't make big money with the service;

Linking to PayPal (which isn’t available in some countries);

Probability of music leaking because of small stores which work with aggregators.

Underground bands don't make big money with the service;

Linking to PayPal (which isn’t available in some countries);

Probability of music leaking because of small stores which work with aggregators.

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed 7 main services that allow artists to earn on their music. With its own advantages and disadvantages, each of them aimed at a specific user. That’s why using a particular service should not only depend on budget and personal preferences, but also on the number of your target audience on these resources.

A newcomer, but an unlimited financial band, we would advise using all possible resources for the promotion, as the information about your work should be available in every major and popular service.

From personal favorites, we can highlight Bandcamp, where the number of metal audience is growing every day, YouTube, as the main leader of video and audio content with the possibility of earnings, Vimeo (more for its ideology and the audience, because it’s not an easy task for a band to make money with it) and SoundCloud (for the possibility to share private streams and add comments on tracks).

Of course, we advise not to neglect resources with free services. Much better to upload an album on YouTube with the further prospect of profit from the views than to enjoy its number of download on BitTorrent websites. In addition, in the description below the video, you can always add information on how to reward its creator, even if you do not have PayPal.

By Anastezia