Why Artists Are Looking to Self Distribution to Increase Fanbases

Digby Pearson, founder of Earache Records and the new Earache Digital Distribution, looks into how the music industry has developed alongside evolving technology and why it’s important for new and upcoming artists to use streaming services to their advantage.


The Power of Good Fans

Loyal fans can build an artist’s music career. Word of mouth recommendations from trusted peers often cause ears to turn towards new and upcoming artists or build a hype around already existing tracks.

As the world gears up for their seventh studio album, it’s difficult to remember the early days of The Arctic Monkeys – yet they’re widely recognised as being one of the first groups to harness the internet. They posted their demos on MySpace – the big social platform at the time – while their friends and fans would leak tracks on free file-sharing websites, which were also dominant in that 00s era. Their first album became the fastest-selling debut in UK history.

The rise in musical piracy was a turning point for the industry. It led to the creation of streaming platforms which launched to offer a legal alternative and keep the sector propped up. The Arctic Monkeys’ story, however, is a prime example of the power of building online communities, and how early-access to music can do wonders for inspiring new fans. The trick lies in learning how to make the most from the platforms that are making the biggest impact today.


New Music Discovery

According to the Competition and Markets Authority, the number of monthly active users of music streaming services increased from 32 million to 39 million between 2019 and 2021. They’re a popular tool for discovering new music, according to 36% of respondents in a YouGov survey, falling just ahead of radio (33%) and social media (32%). Though there were big discrepancies in preferences within the age brackets of each platform, streaming was consistently the most popular way for most age ranges to discover new tunes. It’s important to note the impact of newer platforms such as TikTok too, where 75% of its US users say they discover new artists.



There have been numerous success stories from Spotify, such as Glass Animals or Ed Sheeran. Aiming to become a global sellout star is of course, very attractive, but it’s important to remember the smaller-scale impact it can have too. When artists put their music out on streaming services, they’re making it available to a huge global audience base. In the age of editorial and algorithm-influenced playlists, even the most niche sounds or genres are likely to find their way onto relevant virtual ‘mixtapes’ and into gracious ears.

We saw this happen ourselves when Elles Bailey used our distribution service to self-release her album. It featured on Spotify’s Blues & Roots Rock playlist, achieving more than 730,000 plays in the first three days of release. According to Loud and Clear – Spotify’s website launched to increase transparency around its payouts to the music industry – nearly a third of DIY artists (with at least 10,000 monthly listeners) generated over $10,000 (£8,700) in 2021 after they self-released on Spotify through an artist distributor.


Making the Most of the Platform

Simply ensuring music is available on the right channels is just one part of the puzzle. To really capture the imagination of a future fan base and make each track go further, musicians need to build a strong and varied artist profile. This doesn’t just mean having a social media presence, although that is also key. Most platforms where music can be streamed will also give the option to create a profile for that website or app.

Similar to a Facebook account, for example, this profile is a place where viewers will ‘land’ after discovering new music and clicking to learn more about who made it. As well as music consumers, these viewers could also be playlist teams, booking agents or more, so ensuring that every touchpoint portrays a band’s story accurately, with up to date information is worthwhile. Images are also important and can often increase people’s chances of being included in any of the app’s marketing campaigns. Our distribution service gives artists access to help from our team and digital marketing is one of the areas we support. It recently helped Matt Mitchell & The Coldhearts chart at 19 in the UK Rock Chart, and 10 in the Independent Album Chart.

One of the most transformative aspects of almost every development in the digital age, however, is the data it generates. Behind every artist’s public-facing profile will be a dashboard of insights to show where a band’s audience are, which tunes they like and how they discovered them. Whether an artist is backed by a big label, has indie label support or is launching their own career, the same type of information will be used to create campaigns to help to push them to the next level.

With the help of digital tools the music industry has become far more democratised. At Earache, we’ve always been fiercely independent and approached our ‘traditional’ label releases in this way. By now offering a self distribution platform, we’re also enabling more bands and artists to take control of their creativity and connect with their fanbase on a much more personal level. If it worked for Arctic Monkeys…


Would you like SEO or PR for your business?
Contact us here for more information >>