How to Switch Music Distributors Without Losing Streams (Quickly)

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Written by Ramsey Brown.

Imagine that after years of your musical career behind you, your music distributor is no longer efficient and you need an urgent change. With constant changes in the music industry and streaming world happening almost daily, sometimes swapping distributors is a necessary move to better your career. 

If you’re a musician and have ever considered changing your distribution company because you are displeased with the results you are receiving, that is already an indication that the change is essential. Music distributors are who make your music available to the public and are supposed to alleviate the pain of having to upload your music to streaming platforms manually. At the point where you feel like your distribution service is doing you more of a disservice, it’s time to make the swap.

There is a collective fear among artists about switching distribution companies. Many people believe that changing their distributor will mean sacrificing their streaming numbers that they worked so hard to build up. However, this information is false. There are definitely a number of ways to properly swap distributors without losing any streams, listeners, or playlist placements. So, how does one go about doing this? Well, that’s exactly what I’m here to tell you.

The truth is, disassociating yourself from your current digital distributor doesn’t mean having to sacrifice your current streaming numbers. As long as you go about the process correctly and are well advised by a team of experts in this field, there will be no consequences you will have to suffer.

There are multiple reasons why a musician or band may need to make a distribution change. The most common being that the price paid for the service is too high in relation to the real benefits being obtained. Or the company doesn’t provide distribution for all of the streaming platforms an artist may desire. Whatever the reason may be, distributors play an important role in an artist's overall success. So If you feel you are not receiving the proper representation from your current distributor but haven't dropped them due to the fear of losing your current streaming numbers, then this article is crucial for you to read. 

For all of these reasons and with the intent to benefit musicians across the globe, We’ve created this guide to explain all of the steps that must be taken in order to correctly change digital music distribution companies without losing any streaming numbers. The team at Omari MC is a group of professional music consultants with a mission to help artists find their way in the music industry. Our teams of experts will always be available to answer any questions you may have and help you find quick solutions to common problems such as the one we have outlined here.

How to Switch Distributors Without Losing Streams: Step-by-Step

If you are wanting to change your digital music distributors without losing any of your current streams, keep reading this article to find out how exactly do this — the safe and correct way. Take note!

1. ALL Data Must Be EXACTLY the Same

The first big rule to understand when you are seriously considering redistributing all of your music through another distributor is that everything has to be the same, absolutely everything. The audio files you created your first album with should be the same, with the same name and format as when you first used them to distribute them with the other agency. 

You should also make sure that the ISRC and UPC numbers are also the same before redistributing everything (we will explain in more detail what these numbers are) so that you don't have any authenticity problems when you re-release them. It is vital that even the image, logos, or covers you used in each of the singles are the same so that the change goes smoothly and does not cause you problems.

For further clarification —  when you are uploading your music to the new distributor, you will be asked for specific information regarding the release(s). When you are submitting this info, there are certain criteria that must be filled in identically to when you submitted it to your previous distributor.  

In order for your distribution swap to go smoothly and that you do not lose streams when swapping distributors, you must ensure the following key points are met when you begin redistributing your music with the new company: 

  • Song names/titles & artist or band names need to be identical.

  • Song or album artwork, covers, or logos need to be identical.

  • Audio files, track length, and format need to be identical. 

  • Release type needs to be identical (album, EP, single)

  • You must use the original ISRC and UPC numbers (more explanation on this below)

  • You must use the original release date 

2. Find ISRC and UPC Numbers

ISRC numbers are assigned to each song. UPC numbers are assigned to releases (like albums, EPs or single releases). No matter which distributor you use, you will be able to find each song’s ISRC number. Just login to your distributor’s backend, click on the release and you’ll see there will be an ISRC number assigned to each song and the UPC assigned to the full release.

The main function of ISRC and UPC codes is to give a file authenticity and a legitimate owner to whom all creation and distribution rights are attributed. When you send your request to work with a new music distributor, you must fill in these two fields with total accuracy. Do not make any mistake during this process because this will cause all the documentation to stop and all your plans to re-publish your songs will be delayed.

When you go to fill out these fields, the best thing to do is copy the ISRC number from your old distributor and paste it into the section where your new distributor asks for the ISRC number. Again, this is super important and it must be done perfectly. Before you submit you should always triple check to make sure you’ve entered everything correctly. 

An artist must know the ISRC and UPC terms perfectly when it comes to distributing music professionally worldwide, because these numbers are like the fingerprint of your work. Without these numbers, you will not be able to verify that those songs are really yours and then this becomes a real problem. This could cause you to lose the right over the tracks and you would not have the ability to use them to redistribute them through another company. This is almost like losing everything, so don't forget it and always have these two numbers well written down.

3. Withdrawal From Your Old Distributor

Finally, the reason you initially came to read this article, you must learn how to start the process of withdrawing your songs to start redistributing them through another agency. This at first glance may seem very simple, but if you don't follow the proper steps it will be useless and you will end up stuck without being able to publish your work again.

To request the withdrawal of your work, you will have to send an email to your current music distributor letting them know all the songs you want to withdraw. Depending on which distribution company you are currently with, they will normally have a detailed outline on their website on how to go about withdrawing your songs and canceling your service with them. 

Sometimes distribution companies will require you to send a very detailed email attaching the name of each of the songs with the ISRC and UPC numbers, so that there are no problems of authenticity and the request can be executed quickly and through the official procedures. Other companies may have a less complicated process and you can simply remove the track through your account on the website.

THE MOST IMPORTANT NOTE OF ALL

This next piece of information is the most crucial point of this entire article. Once you have uploaded your music to your new distributor, you want to take down the previous release AFTER the new one is live on your streaming platforms. You will have a duplicate release up for a couple of days — this is perfectly fine. Spotify will show ‘1 More Release’. 

First you’ll want to go through the entire process of uploading your music to your new distributor (as mentioned in the first two points). Before you even move onto the withdrawal step of your old distributor, you’ll want to ensure that the release has been properly uploaded and that all of your titles, artwork, streaming numbers, and any other information is in the exact same format as when you initially distributed it.

Once you’ve registered with your new music distribution service, you’ll want to keep any music you’re planning to transfer uploaded. I recommend keeping them up for at least 2-3 days after you’ve confirmed the duplicate versions of your track(s). 

Once you see the (new distributor) release is live on Spotify for a few days and you’ve checked to make sure the play counts are the same on all songs for both releases (you can do this by hovering over the popularity bar), then you can take down the release from your old distributor. Most distributors will have a simple take down button to remove the track but others may require an email submission or an official request in order to have the song removed. 

After doing this and once the withdrawal of the song or songs becomes effective you can send them to your new distributor and start applying the changes you want: change the official artwork that accompanies each single in the main streaming platforms, the title and even the format. Once you have officially made the change to your new music distributor, everything will be easier and you will be able to start controlling your work again under the new terms you have agreed with your new agency.

Wrapping Up

We hope that through this simple explanatory article you have perfectly understood all the steps on how to change music distributors safely, without losing any of your previous streams, likes, listeners, or playlists. If you have any further questions about distributing your music or how to swap distribution companies, feel free to comment below this post.


When your song is ready to go, it's time to start promoting it to potential fans! Omari has the best organic promotion services money can buy. With packages for Spotify, Apple Music, Instagram, and YouTube, we will get your music the traffic and attention it deserves! Click below for more information.  


SPEAK YOUR MIND

    1 Response to "How to Switch Music Distributors Without Losing Streams (Quickly)"

    • Anne Bello

      Now I have the ISRC Numbers I need to know who the distributor is to get those deleted when it’s time. Somewhere I understand that the last 5 digits of the ISRC Code may reveal who the distributor is? How do I go about researching that information ?

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