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6 Budget-Friendly (And Easy To Use) Marketing Resources Every Independent Musician Should Use

I write for, and about, the up and coming musician.

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

(Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Anheuser-Busch)

To cope with the financial distress plaguing the music industry, record executives began signing acts to 360 deals – an agreement in which companies receive portion of every revenue stream their latest signee produces – as a way to offset potential losses. However, as the internet replaced the suits as the gatekeeper to prosperity in the industry, a generation of musicians has been exposed to companies that allow them operate as record companies, executives and marketing departments without having to leave their bedroom.

The companies below are available to: help musicians distribute their albums on major online stores and streaming platforms; create seamless, professional websites; and construct quality flyers, posters and digital advertising banners with photo editors that make design as simple as a drag-and-drop.

Album distribution

The typical structure of a recording agreement calls for an act to relinquish the rights to their master recordings (i.e. songs and albums) as well as the process in which they are distributed. Though many musicians claim nowadays that they’re money is made in merchandise sales and touring rather than from album sales, these two companies re-open the possibility of the latter existing as a viable income stream, and allow musicians to retain 100% ownership of their creations.


Price: $29.99 setup fee for the first year, $49.99 each following year
Digital distribution partners: 150+ partners including iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal
Additional perks: Publishing administration (one-time $75 fee); song mastering; CD manufacturing; members keep 100% of sales revenue; partnership with YouTube Art Track
Notable users: Cody Johnson, Chance The Rapper, Major Lazer
Via their website, TuneCore claims to have collected $44 million in earnings for their members in Q2 of 2016, which is up 24% from their $33 million mark the same time last year. Taylor Bennett, Chance The Rapper’s younger brother, says in an interview with Hot 97, “I remember Chance told me…’You need to find out how to make a standard income off of yourself as a product.’ And now, thanks to TuneCore, we receive monthly checks.”

CD Baby

Price: $49 per album
Digital distribution partners: 95+ partners including iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal
Additional perks: Weekly payouts; CD manufacturing; publishing administration; physical distribution in over 15,000 brick-and-mortar stores; YouTube royalty collection; option to build website through sister company, Host Baby.
Although CD Baby keeps $4 per physical CD sold and 9% of digital sales, there are no annual fees associated with membership. Macklemore, who brought in $5.5 million in 2015 according to FORBES, has been a user of the site, and is quoted as saying, “CD Baby has always been a family to me…Their payouts and accounting are very artist friendly and that’s appreciated…Love those dudes.”