What is the role of a distribution company?

My question is specifically, do they make sure you get radio-plays and that your song actually reaches the people... If not who's work is that?

Who makes sure that good music actually reaches the fans and becomes a hit?

2 Answers 2


Distribution companies can't get you on the radio. Traditionally, radio play is controlled by big labels with a lot of resources. Local, independent stations will often "break" new artists onto the airwaves, particularly local artists, but there are only a few of those left.

Music distribution is how music gets delivered to the listener. Traditionally, distributors enter agreements with record labels to sell to stores...

The goal of digital distribution is to get your music on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and other streaming platforms and digital music stores.

Source: https://blog.landr.com/everything-musicians-need-know-digital-music-distribution/

There are some newer, alternate ways of getting onto the radio now, even without a label backing you, but those basically rely on you finding a way to make your song a big hit BEFORE radio ever even notices you --such as viral marketing, or placement in a movie. Typically, you WILL need to be distributed to streaming services first, unless you're just relying on YouTube fame. The recent hit "Old Town Road" made it onto radio even before it was available streaming, but that's so rare that it's practically unique.

Your best bet, as an independent artist, is to build a local following of people who like your music. If you're more a songwriter than a performer, you might want to try to partner with a performer. Then, sign up with a distributor, so that people will have a way to get your song on streaming services and digital stores if they like it. Next, see if you can get it onto local radio --college stations and public broadcasting are probably your best bets. Then, make sure you have some kind of video on YouTube, even if it's nothing but audio. Obviously, the better the video the better. Finally, many of the people who have been recent viral successes have done it by somehow encouraging fun audience-participation challenges that help promote the song.

  • Thanks for the explanation and the links learnt a lot. I am particularly curious on: There are some newer, alternate ways of getting onto the radio now, could you please state them, their effectiveness and the resources needed?
    – YulePale
    Jun 13, 2019 at 1:43
  • Believe me, if I understood them, I'd be doing them. Basically, there's a small handful of artists --Justin Bieber, Silento, Lil Nas X, Ayo and Teo, OK Go, Rebecca Black --who have converted viral video fame into mainstream airplay. But keep in mind, that's five or six successes among millions of attempts. Jun 13, 2019 at 11:38
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    I've edited my answer to add a little. Jun 13, 2019 at 12:04
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    Money, lots of it, and even then they can't always guarantee a hit. Keep in mind, big label artists tour, they put out professional videos with famous directors, they have release parties, they do magazine interviews. After all that, the radio stations would be foolish not to play the songs. And I'm sure payola still exists too... Jun 13, 2019 at 13:33
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    I remember a big-name UK radio DJ playing the first Spice Girls single and absolutely berating it live on air as the product of a cynical, manufactured girl group. A couple of days later, "I've had a think about it and maybe it's pretty good". Clearly, even without payola, he realised the train was going whether he was on it or not, so better jump aboard! I think that tells you quite a lot about the music industry in so many ways.
    – Lefty
    Jun 14, 2019 at 8:56

In this day and age where people are not buying CD's distributions help to get your music to the digital platforms, Which is quit useless if you think about it, Because for the fact that your music is on platforms like iTunes, spotify and other popular outlets doesn't mean they gonna be bought. As an independent artists you are your own distribution if you use the internet wisely, creating your own website and sell your music from there would make you a lot of money because you will be paying no one, your money comes straight to you.

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