Mastering the stream a guide to music streaming services for independent artists and small record labels

Mastering the stream: a guide to music streaming services for independent artists and small record labels

In today’s digital age, music streaming services have become the cornerstone of the music industry, offering vast audiences and a global reach for independent artists and small record labels. In this blog, we’ll explore what music streaming services are, identify the biggest players in the industry, delve into the intricacies of royalty payments, and provide a step-by-step guide on how to get your songs on these platforms. Whether you’re an independent artist or an emerging label, this guide will help you navigate the world of music streaming services.

Understanding music streaming services

Music streaming services are digital platforms that allow users to listen to music over the internet. Instead of downloading songs, users can access an extensive catalogue of tracks on-demand, create playlists, and explore new music seamlessly. These services have revolutionized how music is consumed and distributed, offering artists and labels unprecedented exposure.

Biggest music streaming services

Several major music streaming services dominate the industry, each with its unique features and reach:


With over 345 million monthly active users, Spotify is one of the largest and most popular music streaming platforms globally. It offers both free, ad-supported tiers and premium subscriptions. Spotify is known for its personalized playlists like “Discover Weekly” and “Release Radar.”

Kwettr Spotify Marketing helps you to get your track included in large user-generated playlists.

Spotify Marketing1000

Apple Music

Apple Music boasts more than 75 million subscribers and is integrated with Apple devices and services. It offers a vast music library, exclusive content, and personalized playlists.

Amazon Music

Amazon Music provides various subscription tiers, including Amazon Music Unlimited, which offers millions of songs. It integrates seamlessly with Amazon Echo devices and offers voice-controlled music playback.

YouTube Music

As part of the YouTube ecosystem, YouTube Music combines music videos and audio tracks. It’s a go-to platform for users who enjoy both listening to music and watching music videos.

Kwettr Distribution can help you make the most of YouTube Content ID.


Tidal distinguishes itself with its high-fidelity sound quality and exclusive content from artists. It’s known for promoting artist rights and higher royalties for musicians.

Music streaming services Spotify Tidal Amazon Music YouTube Music Apple Music

Royalty payments from music streaming services

Understanding royalty payments is crucial for artists and labels seeking to monetize their music on streaming platforms:

Per-stream model

Most streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music, use a per-stream model to calculate royalties. This means that artists receive a payment for each stream of their songs. The exact per-stream rate can vary but typically ranges from fractions of a cent.

Royalty pools

Streaming platforms allocate a portion of their revenue to a royalty pool. The pool is then divided among rights holders, including labels, publishers, and artists, based on their share of total streams.

Artist contracts

Artists signed to labels often have specific contract terms governing how royalties are distributed. Independent artists retain more control over their earnings but also bear more responsibility for their music’s promotion and music distribution.

Streaming context

The amount an artist receives per stream can differ depending on the listener’s subscription type (free or premium) and the country where the stream occurs. It is also dependent on the type of contract; an independent artist can use a platform for music distribution or he can get signed at a record label.

How royalties are calculated

Royalties are calculated using a complex formula that takes into account various factors:

Revenue share

A Streaming platform typically allocates a percentage of the revenue to pay royalties. This can vary but often hovers around 70-75%.

Total streams

The total number of streams on the streaming service is a significant factor. The more streams a song receives, the higher the total royalty payout.

User subscription type

Premium subscribers usually generate higher royalty rates than free-tier users. Paid subscribers contribute more to the royalty pool due to their higher subscription fees. A paid subscription at for example YouTube Music in general makes streaming revenue compared to the free tier.

Territorial rates

Royalty rates can vary by country based on local agreements and market conditions.

Artist’s share

After the platform deducts its share, the remaining amount is divided among the rights holders. Independent artists receive a percentage based on their contractual agreements.

Kwettr collects music streaming royalties from all major DSPs. We report and pay on a monthly basis.

Getting your music on streaming services: a step-by-step guide

Now, let’s explore how to get your songs on the best music streaming platform and start earning royalties:

Prepare your music

Ensure your music is professionally recorded, mixed, and mastered. It should be in digital format (usually WAV or FLAC) and have eye-catching cover art.

Choose a distributor

To get your music on streaming platforms, you’ll need a distributor. Popular options include Kwettr, Ditto Music, Horus Music, DistroKid, TuneCore, CD Baby, and RouteNote. Compare their pricing, services, and royalty distribution methods before selecting one.

Sign up and upload

Create an account with your chosen distributor and upload your music, including cover art, metadata (song title, artist name, release date), and audio files.

Select streaming platforms

Choose the music streaming platform where you want your music to appear. Most distributors allow you to select multiple platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.

Set a release date

Plan your release date strategically, taking into account marketing efforts, promotions, and other factors that can maximize your music’s impact.

Metadata accuracy

Ensure your metadata is accurate and consistent across all platforms to avoid issues with your music’s visibility.

Distribution review

Distributors typically review your music to ensure it meets quality standards and adheres to copyright laws. This process can take a few days. Kwettr also reviews music for copyright infringement; any track which is flagged for possible infringement will be rejected.

Release and promotion

Once approved, your music will be released on the selected platforms on your chosen release date. Start promoting your music through social media, email newsletters, and other marketing channels.

Track performance

Use analytics and reporting tools provided by your distributor to monitor your music’s performance on streaming platforms. Use Kwettr analytics or Songstats to see all analytical data.

Kwettr Distribution Data Analytics


Music streaming services have transformed the music industry, offering independent artists and small record labels unparalleled opportunities for global reach and monetization. Understanding how royalties are calculated and distributed is crucial for maximizing your earnings on these platforms.

By following the step-by-step guide to getting your music on streaming services, you can navigate the process effectively and start earning royalties for your hard work. Remember that success in the streaming era often requires consistent promotion, networking, and dedication to building your fanbase over time.
Sign up for Kwettr Distribution to get started on music streaming platforms.

Scroll to Top