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How To Guide on Streaming Platforms


Written by Hirimaia Eketone (they/them) | @hiri_music | Contributing Writer

Illustrations by Mannat (she/her) | @mannatdraws | Contributing Artist

Music streaming platforms began in the year 1999, when Napster became a popular mp3-sharing site used primarily by American college students. From there streaming services developed further, becoming places artists could upload their music and get listeners from all around the world. Nowadays the most notable streaming platforms are ones such as Spotify, Apple Music and Soundcloud.

Streaming from these services is one thing but what is it like on the artist’s end? Well, as an amateur artist myself, it’s tough. A lengthy process awaits for those who wish to release music. So what are the main steps? What makes this difficult?

  1. Recording Music

Recording the music is honestly my favourite part of the process. It can be pricey and you may not receive those funds back, but it is definitely the most fun part of releasing music on a platform. You’ve written a song, recorded it with a band or by yourself and boom! After some mixing and mastering your track is ready to upload.

  1. Uploading Music

Artists will need to choose a distribution company that deals with shipping your music off to various streaming platforms. Ever wondered where the music on Instagram or TikTok comes from? That music is uploaded by those sites after they receive it from distribution companies. There will usually be a small cost to use these services but nothing that breaks the bank. It’s best to go into uploading music with a lot of knowledge about your tracks on hand, otherwise, the process can become drawn out and tricky. You don’t want to end up postponing the release date because the uploading process took too long! 

  1. Promoting Music

Most artists and marketing managers will agree that unless you have amassed a following that eagerly anticipates your every move, heavy promotion of your song or album before the release is not necessary. Pre-saves can help guarantee listeners at the very beginning of release, however, if you are just starting out it is more important to keep up consistent promotion after release. Our attention span as a collective is very short. If there isn’t an easy-to-click link straight to the music, we’ll likely forget. There’s no point in hyping up a small snippet of a song when the listener then has to wait a month for it to be released. Promotion is by far the hardest part of being an artist - finding your own creative flair that keeps your content interesting, while also growing your audience. It is a hard line to skate across and takes a lot of trial and error.

Seems easy so far? Here’s the catch: Even if you do these steps perfectly, get a jump on promotion, gain an audience and write some very catchy music, your main source of income is rarely going to be from those streaming services. Spotify for example, only pays $0.003-0.005 per stream. For context, 30k streams would equal approximately $90, which would immediately be cut due to the fees your distribution company takes away from them. Not to mention, it would take billions of streams to make back half of what you probably spent making the music. The majority of artists will make most of their income from merch and live performances.

I know it sounds bleak and discouraging when put this way, however, I encourage artists to release music. Releasing music provides people with access to your unique sound, as well as helping grow your reach to other parts of the world. I only write this article to warn those who may have been disillusioned into thinking releasing music is a lucrative act- it is not as of yet. 

My own music is out on said platforms if you're curious and want to have a listen, under “HIRI” or @hiri_music on Instagram, I’d appreciate the support! 


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