Music distributors for Indian musicians

- by Jim Ankan Deka

Many budding musicians and bands from India have been asking me a question for quite some time now - 'how to sell music on iTunes or Amazon or distribute music online?' Till two years ago I thought it was a time consuming process. I never even bothered to try that myself. I was happy sharing my music through Reverbnation, SoundCloud or MySpace for free. Now, sharing your music with people for free is not a very bad idea if you want to get noticed. Once you have enough fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter, you should think about selling your music.

If you are in the US or Europe, distributing or selling music online is not going to be a big deal. But if you are in India and not really sure about publishing your music on platforms like iTunes or OVI (Nokia Music), the number of times you bang your head on the wall will be more than the number of concerts you do.

After much research (with food, beverage and sitting in front of laptop for days), I came to an understanding that one can't sell music to any of the famous online music retailers directly until s/he becomes a partner. And becoming a partner is not so easy. Hence, I started looking for companies who can do so on my behalf. I came across few companies in India who can help you distribute and sell your music online for a nominal fee or even free sometimes. But they definitely don't give guarantee of how much money you are going to earn through online selling. They just distribute your album or single. Some of the companies do help you with little bit of promotion though. But most of the promotion (or begging friends and relatives to buy your album) have to be done by you. These days that's not so difficult when you have thousands of 'unknown' friends on Facebook. In-fact, you can open a page on Facebook and try to get famous, or act like one.

Coming to the point, if you feel you have completed five (5) terrific tracks (which are not cover, but your own), you can think of launching an EP. Extended play (EP) is a musical recording that contains more music than a single, but is too short to qualify as a full studio album. In fact even if you don't have 5 songs but just one track, you can still launch it as a single. But if you have one song, rather put it up on the net for free. You are neither Metallica nor Kurt Cobain nor Jimi Hendrix nor are you almost as famous as any of them. Why would people buy your music until they hear you first?

Anyway, if you still like to believe in your (Facebook) stardom and if you have a single, 5 songs or material for a full album (7 songs minimum), and you are almost sure to sell them, there are portals which will help you do the same. All you need is a credit card (yeah, your dad's will also do) or a bank account. Below are the details.

OK Listen (India) (free)

OK Listen is a digital platform which help musicians to sell their music online. This is done through their website www.oklisten.com. Started by Vijay Basrur and Bhavin Badheka, people can buy albums or singles at OK Listen and OKListen pay upto 70% of the total sell to the artists. In fact there's no fee to sell music at OK Listen, it's done for free. They are also now planning to distribute music worldwide other than their website. The plus point of this portal is that they create a nice looking page (profile) for you and share your albums so that people can read about you and buy your music at the same time.

IndiEarth (India) (paid)

IndiEarth is a Chennai based company, which can be your digital distribution partner for your album or EP. They take a tokenish fee and distribute music to more than 600 stores online including iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Zune, eMusic, CD Universe etc. To distribute your music through IndiEarth, you have to first create your profile and upload music on their website - www.indiearth.com. One song from your album is enough to upload initially. What's more, If they like your music, they will write about you or publish your interview on their blog.

Musicfellas (India) (free)

Almost similar to OK Listen, Musicfellas help musicians reach the music lovers. You can sign up as an artist at www.musicfellas.com and create your profile. Upload your songs, sign the contract with Musicfellas, and voila! your songs are now being heard and bought by fans. There is no fee to upload songs on Musicfellas and artists get 70% of the total earning. What I liked most about this company is, people are decent and friendly. And they are serious in supporting music and artists.

CreateSpace (USA) (free/paid)

CreateSpace is a US based company which helps musicians distribute their MP3 tracks or albums directly on Amazon free of cost. If you want to sell your CD on Amazon, you can do so too through www.createspace.com for free; but before the CD goes live on Amazon, you have to order a copy for yourself for which you have to pay the postal charges.

CD Baby (USA) (paid)

Based in the US and founded by Derek Sivers, CD Baby is one of the world's largest online distributor of independent music. They distribute music through their own webiste www.cdbaby.com as well as other online music retailers like iTunes, Amazon, Shazam, Rdio, Rhapsody, Simfy, Xbox Music, MOG etc. The best thing about CD Baby is musicians are paid every week and they are never removed from the system for not selling enough. They charge a one-time setup fee per album and per single song.

TuneCore (USA) (paid)

Similar to CD Baby, Tune Core is also an online music distribution service. You can sign up as an artist on www.tunecore.com and start distributing your music worldwide for a fee. What's more, you get to keep 100% of your sales revenue.

Revrbnation (USA) (free/paid)

Many musicians nowadays have profiles on Reverbnation along with their free tracks. What they don't know is that they can sell their music directly from Reverbnation store without any fee. This is a free service by Reverbnation. But if you want to distribute your music to the online music retailers like iTunes and Amazon through www.reverbnation.com, you have to make a payment beforehand. Like TuneCore, you definitely get to keep 100% of your sales revenue. Reverbnation also helps to promote your music or yourself through Facebook, MTV, YouTube or Rolling Stones. There is a fee for that.

The companies that I have mentioned here are just few among the lot. But these are definitely the trusted ones. I have tried them myself and many a times I gained. Indian companies are more personal. You can meet the people if they are around and you can have a face to face talk with them about your music or for any information about them. But most importantly, selling music online is not a comfy task. You have to respect your music, have to have your sound, have to follow people to follow you, get yourself highlighted and most importantly love what you do.

Next time I will tell you how to get your music on MTV. Good luck for now!
Eastern Fare
Eastern Fare

Eastern Fare is a music institute and a production house presently based in Guwahati with branches in Bangalore, Umiam, Umroi and other cities in India.

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