Thursday, August 18th, 2022

How Long Does Music Distribution Take?

How to go from concept to collecting cash.

So. You’ve decided you want to get your music on Spotify, Apple, YouTube Music, TikTok, Tidal, etc. You’re ready to buckle in and get the process started. Excellent! But before you announce that you’re about to drop a sick new track, it’s important to know just how long digital music distribution takes and what steps your release will go through to get into your fans’ eager hands.

The Instant Route

Let’s say you’ve decided to go with a user-uploaded platform, like SoundCloud or Bandcamp. Sweet! As long as you have your album art, audio file(s), and metadata (you know–title, artist name, genre, etc.) ready to go, you can have your release up and ready to share within just a few minutes! Grab that link and start blasting.

The Distributor Route

But let’s say you want a little wider reach; while user-uploaded platforms are simple and quick on the artist end, the downside is that they can be a little trickier to find and navigate on the listener end, and a lot of your fans probably already have a Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube Music account they prefer to listen on. If you want to make your release as easily accessible to as many fans as you can, then you’ll want to go with a digital music distribution service (like Soundrop). These services will help you from start to finish in uploading your release and sending it out to all those good-good music platforms.

Digital Music Distributors are the only way to get your releases onto places like iTunes and Spotify unless you’ve got yourself a record deal (in which case, sweet and also can I have your autograph?). However, because they’re sending your music over to stores run by big companies, like Amazon Music or Deezer, they can take a little more time to get your music out there.

How long do distributors typically take?

While uploading your stuff to a distributor like Soundrop only takes a few minutes, from there you’ll need to have your release inspected (you can find Soundrop’s up-to-date timelines here) and delivered to the platforms (which can take 1-2 days from there). After your music is delivered to the stores, the stores themselves need to unbox it and get it ready in their systems to post, which can take another 3-4 days. Plus, if you’re releasing a cover song, you’ll need to make sure somewhere in there you procure a mechanical license! (Did you know Soundrop licenses cover songs for you as part of the process for literally no extra charge? It only adds a few extra days to the timeline… 👀) So make sure you’re prepared for those steps when you’re planning your release date.

Why all the extra steps?

Think of it like this: you’re setting up a booth at a fancy local market where both you and the owners get a cut of your sales. The market owners will want to make sure what you’re putting up in your booth aligns with what they want for their store–you can’t just load your booth up with junk from your backyard next to Marie’s Artisanal Vegan Cheeses! It’ll ruin the vibes and cost everybody some cash.

But what if you had a cool friend who had sold stuff at that market before who could help you know the ins and outs of what the owners want? By the time you set up your booth, the owners are so wow-ed they give you a gold star and leave your booth exactly as it is! That market is your music platform (like Spotify) and that cool friend is your digital music distribution service. Your distributor gets you an in with those big music stores, and teams like Soundrop Distribution will even quality-check your releases to make sure that they fit all the guidelines necessary to stay live and listenable as long as you want.

So yeah, that means there are a few extra steps to distribution, like that guideline check and delivering your music to the platforms. But while it may be a little frustrating that this kind of distribution takes a bit more time, it can actually provide you with some great opportunities to market your release and get the word out in advance so that your listeners are already hyped for it when it drops. Think Spotify pre-saves, posting a music video, and more. The nice thing about a distributor like Soundrop is we actually offer you the tools to do that marketing yourself, too! So from start to finish, you’re in control and your music gets out the way you want it to.

Sound good to you? Ready to get started?

Make your free Soundrop account and distribute your music today!