It seems to come up quite often on Twitter – which should you plump for Soundcloud or Spotify? Or maybe both? It’s all a bit of a conundrum isn’t it?
The trouble with Spotify one might argue is that sure, you get paid – but you aren’t going to take the wife out to lunch unless you are really turning over some serious business. I think of it this way: If I do one gig, how long (possibly in centuries) would it take to earn the same amount on the Spotster? I think we have to ask ourselves why we are in it – this whole music game – to make money, to get heard, to get discovered, or for the sheer joy of it – whatever the reason may be we definitely have to get some perspective.
In my case it’s a bit of all of the above – I have written some songs which I know in my heart and gut are great songs and there’s no reason why some big name band shouldn’t one day approach me and say ‘I can really see us playing that song ‘ and then beg in abject dust eating grovelling for me to allow them to do so. I simply love playing music (more than the business of music that’s for sure) and the gigging aspect is pretty important to me. Even house parties and unpaid events can bring great joy, especially if people are up for joining in – the thrill of such things can be unbounded. If you get paid for doing it then that’s the icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned, dosh being the sincerest form of flattery. Getting heard is part of that process – after all people follow noise not silence so if you don’t kick up a bit of a rumpus who’s going to know you even exist?
To get on to Spotify you have to be signed up with distributors whose job it is to deliver your tracks to them and many other platforms: iTunes, Deezer to name but two. I suppose the biggest players in the distribution market are CD Baby and Tunecore – but there are others. There in hangs another little snag – you have to buy the service – if you want to release and album say, you buy the rights to upload your tracks and then the nice people at your distributor will share the love and send the tracks around. And the distributors charge you in different ways – one of you charges you per track and then it’s there forever, another charges you per annum – so if you don’t want to pay next year that’s your hard luck. I might be oversimplifying the situation but it works something like that. I don’t mind being controversial so if you don’t agree send me a message and we can type in capital letters to each other for a while until one of us backs down (probably me…)
Soundcloud on the other hand at least for the basic level is free. We do like that word, us musicians. It’s not like musicians get paid particularly well for their decades of painful training and obsessive dedication, so when someone says ‘free’, boy, don’t we prick our ears up. For free you can upload something like maybe 50 tracks – there’s a limit and it depends on how large the file sizes are but it’ll be quite a few. Then – there you are in front of the public!
You’ll have instant success when people will like and sometimes repost your track – and you’ll say ‘Yay! here we go!’ till you realise they want you to buy their services to make your hard work go viral. Maybe it would work – I don’t know – never tried it – but I will leave it to you in all your sagacity to make the judgement there.
But at least you will get heard. Apparently you can monetise on Soundcloud but the rules are a bit stricter – and I believe that you can’t unless you’ve had at least 500 downloads and I suspect that you have to pay for the Pro service.
So my question is to you guys out there who know very much more about the business end of our delightful creative pursuit than I (and bearing in mind that our cat is more clued up than I am in that particular field) what would (or do) you go for? Soundcloud? Spotify? or one of the other hosting sites – Reverbnation and so on.
One final question: Do you release ‘Albums’ and if so what even is an album these days? If people download tracks willy nilly what does it matter if you have for some personal whim grouped them together in some way, for some reason only you in your gargantuan intellect will ever know. Not saying you shouldn’t – just struggling to get my head around the modern world.
Keep smiling, keep playing and keep hoping. I’m with you