How To Get Accepted To AWAL Distribution & Show Trajectory
It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll. That’s what AC/DC made clear to all artists around the world releasing music. But, there is hope. There are many distribution platforms to choose from. AWAL is a unique platform and does it a bit differently. You have to make the team, so to speak.
AWAL, owned by Kobalt Music Group, is a distributor of music, that gets their artists onto streaming platforms. They are selective with the artists they are willing to bring on board. It’s nothing personal. This is the music business. They are mostly dealing with independent artists. They want to make sure their artists are serious, before offering distribution to streaming services. They want to see that the music is on a trajectory of success. I'm here to explain AWAL a bit more. Let's also dive into some helpful tips on how to showcase trajectory in your music career. If you have a promising trajectory, AWAL is more likely to bring you on. Also, fans and music business gatekeepers alike will be more and more likely to follow what you release.
Are you dreaming about telling that label who rejected your demo “I told you so!!!”? These tips on how to build your trajectory are going to help you to that movie scene rockstar moment. The music business can be tough. It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll. But, AC/DC also would say in the same sentence, “For those about to rock, WE SALUTE YOU.” Let's get rocking.
4 Things you need in your music career to show trajectory
Ok, now that we have sufficiently referenced AC/DC lyrics and given you a brief road map of why we are here, here are those 4 helpful tips. Don't worry, if you've been walking a long road, you're in good company. Digital distribution is key in today's climate, let's get you the tools you need to succeed.
1. High-Quality Recordings
Use reference tracks
If you don’t know what a reference track is, that’s okay. It’s very much what it sounds like it is. If you’re mixing your song, choose a song that is professionally mixed and at industry standard. Then compare the sound of the two. Your goal is for your mix to stand up with the song you have chosen as your reference track. If you're doing pop pull up a Taylor Swift or Ed Sheeran song on Apple music, or any streaming services of your choice, and simply listen to the comparison of the songs. If you did a proper job mixing, your song should pass the test. Your investment in quality music might seem like splitting hairs, but it's an investment that will be worth it. Any artist with sustainable success from their indie content would answer in agreement.
Get trustworthy ears listening to your music production
No man or woman should make music decisions on an island. What do I mean? It’s not the gear, it’s the ear. Make sure you get a second set of ears on your music before you hit that release button. Definitely make sure you’re not asking your weird uncle Rico at the dinner table. He swears he knows music because he was the head of security when Fleetwood Mac toured back in the spring of ’75. Have a friend who is an actual producer, or hire a professional.
Hire professionals on Sound Better
Sound Better is an excellent space if you want to hire producers, engineers or songwriters to make music. You can be a provider or client. If you don’t have a trusted team, this freelance community platform is run by Spotify is a perfect place to start. Any project you need help on, sign up as a client, and search through potential teammates until you assemble a team that will succeed.
How does Sound Better work?
Sound Better is a freelance community of creatives. Client and provider come to an agreement on the cost of making creative content together. The artist leaves with their need met and the provider is paid for their services. There are more details available on their website.
You can click here to learn more details about Sound Better.
Who can you hire through Sound Better?
There are many different people you can hire through sound better to help create your content. From producers to engineers to even songwriters, you can find the proper fit for your creative needs.
For example, click here if you want to search producer.
2. Only Release Great Songs
Hone your songwriting craft
If you don’t have the skills to pay the bills, well, then get better. It’s pretty cut and dry. Not everyone who makes music is great at it. Just ask Simon Cowell. It’s okay if you’re not there yet. It doesn’t mean you won’t be in the future, so long as you practice your music to become a better artist. Ask your trusted music friends to give you a review of your songs and ability. Make sure they have your best in mind and will be honest. Don’t take anything personally. Any criticism is here to help you get better, so thank them for taking the time to help. It won’t be fun hearing you aren’t awesome at it yet, but give yourself time and be patient, you’ll get there.
Have a fresh take within your genre
It pays to be different. Don’t copy what you hear and see. Observe the trends and current state of the game, within your genre. Soak up the scene. Examine what works and find a way to put your spin on it. Remember, your voice is one of a kind. Your perspective and approach are yours, so be yourself. Don’t be afraid to be bold and take risks, so long as you’re true to who you want to be as an artist. Make music you are proud of and excited to release. Make every label who passed on you regret it because you got better and your music is up to par now.
Pair your music with an exceptional visual
Making a music video that is captivating is a very powerful way to cut through and reach people with your music and content. Making sure you have eye-catching album artwork is a must as well. Think about this, the few seconds that people see your album art, they will decide if they deem it worth clicking on. Give yourself the best chance and make sure it’s excellent.
3. Show Fan Engagement
Don’t fake your engagement by padding numbers
This nonsense approach will hurt you more than helping you. Could you sleep at night, knowing you are faking it? Platforms like Spotify don’t tolerate fakers. They do their best to penalize artists who unethically run up their streams. Leave that fake stuff to the artist your ex-girlfriend or boyfriend left you for. Those two are both fake and deserve each other. They didn’t recognize a real thing when they were with you. Let them worry about faking it, you go out there and put the real work in.
Ethically build your “key indicators”
A few reliable sources are Spotify monthly listeners, Youtube Comments, and Livestream viewers. These are hard to fake. You should aim to maintain an engagement ratio of .1% and 10%. It should be a goal of yours to roughly follow the rule of striving for 10% engagement. For instance, if you have 1,000 followers on Instagram, you should be seeing around 100 likes on your posts.
Get Press On Your Music
Media outlet features make your music more credible. Gaining mentions from legit media outlets is like throwing a few giant logs onto the bonfire of your credibility. Those flames will grow even higher and it will be hard to escape your shine.
Getting back-links increases your SEO rankings
You want Uncle Google to know your name. If a label catches wind of your music, they’re going to google your name. If nothing comes up, this is a clear sign that the world is ignoring you right now. Attention all artists, SEO matters. If Google can't find you, you’re in trouble.
4. Establish A Strong Brand
Make sure that you invest time and effort into your music presentation, it will translate to your distribution success. As an artist, think of your brand as a person. When anyone encounters your brand, they will focus on if you made a proper first impression upfront. That impression will determine how strangers encountering you and your music will review and react. Will they see a professional set-up backed by releases that sound professional? The choice is yours, the time spent on this can be tedious, but worth it in this constant game of marketing yourself well. On your website, maybe even record a welcome video upfront, that you can place in the background. It can bring your site to another level, to have a visual in the background. Platforms like TikTok have shown us upfront how effective visuals are. What would TikTok do? So Tik Tok the clock is running down, let's get to it, there's music distribution revenue to make! Make sure your site features something next level. Focus, you can do this.
Build A Team
The music industry is competitive. A team not only helps you keep focus and be the best version of yourself, but they help you run your business. Being an indie artist can put you in a tough space. Having a crew of producers, designers, and a manager shows that others believe in you. You are worth working on content within their eyes. This adds to the appearance of your trajectory. If your designer kills it with thumbnails on Spotify, and your producer knows the ins and outs of digital mixing and sound engineering, you'll have a strong team behind you. That strength in numbers is attractive to a distributor. They review so much, and they want to see that you are going to stick with it. After all, their distribution efforts and payout depend on you doing well and continuing. Pass a distributor's review, like AWAL, and you'll be on a great path with that approval. They'll see that you're all business and ready to rake in that music distribution revenue.
Make sure your website can pass a friend’s review. It should have easy navigation, a complete artist biography. It should also have your links for social media, and downloads for industry reps and label execs. Trying to get your streams up by getting placed on a playlist? Want to boost music revenue? It will be hard for anyone to take you seriously if you don’t take yourself seriously. Imagine a company wants to hire someone. The company sees that they have no experience making another company's revenue increases. Also, their appearance is not put together. I can guarantee that company will review, and find someone else, who looks like more of a fit after review. Appearance and how you present yourself matters. Yes, no matter how much my out of style Dad might yell that it doesn’t, it does. Just ask my Mom for her review. It matters if you’re a fan of music revenue and more streams.
Show Past Planning
A platform like AWAL will look at your past music releases and see if there is evidence of a past marketing plan. This shows signs of forethought. You need to plan and execute. Consistency is what they are looking for to find an impressive and promising trajectory. Did you drop a song and it got placed on a Spotify playlist? That could be an example of you thinking ahead because they will see that you submitted your music to playlist curators. This past digital trail of planning is what's going to show AWAL as a distributor to put their chips on you. They value the service they provide, and if their service would benefit from granting you access to that service, you all can make money together. At the end of the day, any distribution service wants to make money, they are going to pick artists who have digital evidence that they are winning already.
AWAL FAQ (if you don't have Lonny Olinick on speed dial)
Where can I apply to AWAL?
Applying to AWAL is an easy process. They have a page dedicated to walking you through how the application process works. All you need to do is follow their prompts and fill out the questionnaire on their website.
To apply to AWAL, click here to submit your application.
How Does AWAL work? What platforms does AWAL distribute to other than Spotify and Apple Music?
If you're trying to make a comparison of AWAL and other digital distributors, their website explains clearly how everything works. AWAL distributes to Spotify and Apple music but also to the key platforms, and to over 200 territories.
Click here to gain a bit more insight on how AWAL works
Where can I find more information about AWAL and their music distribution services?
AWAL does a great job showcasing what they do and what makes them different by comparison to others in this field. They offer various tiers of attention for artists, based on their career success, this new version of label services is a next-level model gaining them a reputation as a company that has almost innovated what the new label deal looks like. It caters more to the artist's preferences and gives artists full creative control of their music and a more hands-on approach. This is a Godsend for those making independent music, who want to gain more attention for their future releases.
You can click here to visit the main AWAL page.
What is AWAL pricing? Any hidden fees?
AWAL allows you to keep ownership of your masters, and there are no upfront fees or annual fees paid. No hidden fees. AWAL has no upfront fees because it takes a 15% commission from the revenue they gain for you. So you both make revenue through the music that you’ve released on their distribution platform.
How hard is it to get on AWAL?
Again, Kobalt is going to rely on AWAL to look at the trajectory of an artist. They will see if said artist has an engaged fanbase. The A&R team will check engagement on Spotify, Soundcloud, and social media platforms. There are ways they quantify the level of engagement. These markers give them the ability to choose who gets accepted. Remember, to get distribution on AWAL, they are a company that needs to know you're a safe bet for their money.
For more helpful links you can click here for my personal review of AWAL.