Having just completed a few tracks I'm really pleased with, I'd like to take the plunge and start putting my music on the Internet. I've heard that there are services that can put you on download sites, such as Spotify, but I don't know where to start! What are my options?
Katy Bradley via email
SOS Video Media Editor Julian Harding replies: There are plenty of web sites out there for distributing your material digitally, but a couple of services stand out as particularly good value to me. The first is Bandcamp (www.bandcamp.com), which allows you to sell your music and merchandise via PayPal, without taking a cut of your profits. The layout is clean and clear, and the service is extremely simple to use, creating a whole variety of download formats from a single WAV or AIFF upload.
The fan can pick from MP3, Ogg Vorbis, Apple Lossless, FLAC and AAC download formats, which is quite enough choice for even the most obsessive audiophile and, by choosing to demand an email in return for downloads, you can easily gather a mailing list. You can also create albums and EPs on the site, give out download codes for promotional purposes and sell your t‑shirts and ironic mugs, or whatever merchandise you're currently peddling. One of my favourite features is the creation of MP3 tags from data you enter on the site. I've lost count of how many times I've sent someone a master, only to find that the title tag is 'Song 3 FINAL MIX mstrd (less limit)', or something equally non‑descriptive. This makes it a real plus to have conversion and tagging done at the Bandcamp end of things!
If you'd prefer to distribute your music through more traditional digital stores, such as iTunes, Amazon and Spotify, then AWAL (Artists Without A Label, found at www.awal.com) provide a relatively cheap service. They take a flat 15 percent cut from your sales and offer a non‑exclusive contract, which means that you can also sell the music elsewhere, for example on Bandcamp. The list of web sites on which your music can appear is very long, though some outlets cherry‑pick content for suitability, so your presence on all of them can't be guaranteed. Once sales start happening, you can receive your payment via cheque, bank transfer or PayPal; whichever is more convenient. Several well‑known artists use AWAL, including Moby and Thom Yorke, and many up-and-coming artists can be found in their catalogue as well.