Record Industry Need Not Apply: The World of Home Recording & DIY Publishing
Since the onset of music downloading, the indie music scene has exploded from self-promoting indie bands to self-published musicians in all genres. It’s little wonder, considering the falling standards of the music publishing industry. These days, music is no more than a few notes, repeating rhythm, and all about sexually-charged relationships or parties. Even the word counts are decreasing. Understandably, there is a huge resurgence in home recording and self-publishing, with the internet at the helm of this musician’s revolution.
If you are a devoted music artist, chances are the thought of being sandwiched on the radio somewhere between Justin Beiber and Miley Cyrus is not all that appealing. Especially if your music has substance and content that has nothing to do with sex or parties. So what is a musician with standards to do? For most artists, the best way to get noticed is to do it themselves.
There are several music publishing services available, all you have to do is provide a music demo and a little bit of cash. Sites like CDBaby, MondoTunes, ReverbNation, and TuneCore are respected sites where musicians can upload, sell, widely distribute, and publicize their music. Relax, you get to keep 100% of the rights and collect the profits they make on your behalf. Let’s take a close look at CDBaby to explore what these services can do.
With over $300 million paid to musicians over the past fifteen years, CDBaby is one of the most trusted places in music publishing, and they offer almost everything you need to get your music to the masses. CDBaby sells your demos and music for you all over the internet, and they have a range of services to help with publicity, marketing and self-distribution. They also offer affordable add-on services, like website hosting and professionally written music reviews. True to the DIY spirit, they have an extensive section dedicated to podcasts, blogs, and tips for musicians.
Their basic package includes sync licensing. This means that your music can be used in TV shows, movies, on YouTube, or any other outlets where your music is synchronized with video and images. CDBaby makes this possible by partnering with Rumblefish, which distributes and issues sync licenses. So, you don’t have to do anything – except get paid.
Beyond their marketing guides and basic distribution services, they offer a surprisingly affordable pro package, which includes royalty protection worldwide. Your music will be registered with American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) or Broadcast Music, Inc., who protect artists’ original works and ensures royalties are paid for every use. So, no matter where your music is used, even internationally, you won’t lose a dime. The Pro Plan pays for itself pretty easily by protecting your rights, but it also includes mechanical royalties, TV placements, radio time, plays on Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube, and live performances.
Cost wise it starts out as the most economical option. On CDBaby, you pay a fee based on the amount of music you want to distribute, but you pay for the music only once, whereas other sites like TuneCore and ReverbNation charge a similar rate – but they charge it every year.
However, CDBaby takes 9% of the profit from downloads. Sites like MondoTunes and TuneCore do not charge commission on their distribution. Who has more incentive to work hard to sell your music? Either way, the economics are determined by how much you are getting for your money, and how much money you are making. If you make $200, then CDBaby is going to be cheaper. If you make $5,000, then an annual fee site is much more cost effective.
All of the major music publishing sites charge per-store access fees. MondoTunes is an exception – they offer free access to their 750 stores, once your annual rate is paid. ReverbNation, TuneCore, and CDBaby charge per store. Of these three, CDBaby seems to have the largest reach, with 60 major stores and access to thousands of stores around the world through the Alliance Entertainment Distribution Network.
Regardless of which site you ultimately go with, The beauty of all of these sites is that they take the guesswork and legwork out of distribution without robbing you blind, they leave you free to create and record your music and do not demand the same kind of youth-pandering conformity that the music industry seems to prefer.