Artists can get quite a bit of mileage out of releasing their music on free digital listening platforms in today’s music industry. However, there’s no getting around the fact that some money has to be spent in order to give your work the best chance at being heard. Music has never been cheaper to create and share, but if you’re hoping to reach the largest audience possible, be prepared to spend a little money to make it happen. Here are three essentials you’ll most likely need to spend money on to share your music with wide audiences:
More and more musicians are taking the production elements of their music into their own hands these days, but mastering music is a completely separate skill. If you want your work to sound good enough to be licensed or resonate with audiences in an enduring way, it will need to be mastered. For the uninitiated, mastering is the last step in post-audio production. Its purpose is to optimize playback on all listening formats and systems. Skipping this step will leave your music sounding unfinished and uneven. You can pay for a seasoned pro to master your music, or you can turn to the increasing number of digital mastering platforms to do it for you.
In theory, you probably could spend loads of time trying to get your latest music featured on influential streaming platforms, but why would you? There are dozens of massive digital music platforms out there, and each has its own system for accepting and vetting new music submissions. Navigating each one would take a considerable amount of time and resources. There’s also no guarantee that the platforms in which listeners turn to would accept your music without going through a third party. Digital music distribution is an essential cost for sharing music today. Working with a reputable distributor ensures your music gets on the platforms where wide audiences listen to their favorite artists and seek out new music.
CDs are a thing of the past, right? Not if you’re trying to get your music featured on the radio or prominent blogs. Radio stations and music journalists still prefer CD submissions over digital ones by a wide margin. This is because CDs sound much better than streaming links do, and taking the time to offer music through CDs reflects a seriousness on behalf of an artist. CDs obviously aren’t essential for sharing music in 2020, but doing so will significantly increase your chances of being heard and taken seriously.
The fact is that it takes money to make music, even if your career goals are modest. By budgeting enough money for the essentials, you’ll have more freedom to invest in powerful non-essential things to benefit your music like promotion and touring. Money might be the furthest thing from your mind when you make music, but it’s something you’ll need to care and think about if you want to make music over the long-term.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.