Spotify vs. Apple Music — Distribution — How to Pursue a Musical Career — From an Artist’s Perspective

In this article, I’ll look at the two biggest music streaming providers, we’ll look at a good distribution service, and we’ll look at if and how you can or should pursue a music career.

The two big boys in the music streaming business

As an artist, it is important to choose the right streaming platform to showcase and distribute your music. There are many options available, but two of the most popular are Spotify and Apple Music. While both platforms have their pros and cons, it is important to weigh the options and consider which one is the best fit for your needs as an artist.

First, let’s take a look at Spotify. With over 345 million monthly active users, Spotify is the largest streaming platform in the world. It offers a wide range of features for both artists and listeners, including personalized playlists, podcasts, and live audio. For artists, Spotify provides a variety of tools to help promote and monetize their music, including the ability to create artist profiles, upload music, and track streams and listeners.

One of the biggest benefits of Spotify for artists is the potential to reach a large audience. With millions of users, there is a good chance that your music will be discovered by new listeners. Additionally, Spotify offers a program called Spotify for Artists, which provides resources and insights for artists to help them grow their careers.

However, there are some downsides to consider as well. For one, the royalty rates on Spotify can be relatively low, with artists earning around $0.004 to $0.0084 per stream. This can make it difficult for independent artists to earn a significant amount of money from their music on the platform. Additionally, Spotify’s algorithm can make it difficult for new artists to get their music in front of listeners, as the platform tends to prioritize established artists.

Now let’s take a look at Apple Music. With over 60 million paid subscribers, Apple Music is the second largest streaming platform behind Spotify. Like Spotify, it offers a wide range of features for both artists and listeners, including personalized playlists, podcasts, and live radio. For artists, Apple Music provides tools to help promote and monetize their music, including the ability to upload music and track streams and listeners.

One of the biggest benefits of Apple Music for artists is the higher royalty rates. Apple Music pays artists a slightly higher rate than Spotify, with artists earning around $0.0064 to $0.0125 per stream. This can be a significant advantage for independent artists looking to earn more from their music. Additionally, Apple Music’s algorithm tends to be more favorable to new artists, making it easier for them to get their music in front of listeners.

However, there are also some downsides to consider with Apple Music. One of the main drawbacks is the smaller user base compared to Spotify. With fewer users, it can be harder for artists to reach a large audience on the platform. Additionally, Apple Music does not offer as many resources and insights for artists as Spotify’s Spotify for Artists program.

Both Spotify and Apple Music have their pros and cons for artists. It is important to consider the size of the audience, royalty rates, and available resources when deciding which platform is the best fit for your needs. While Spotify may offer a larger audience and a variety of resources, Apple Music may be a better option for artists looking to earn more from their music. Ultimately, the decision will depend on your specific goals and needs as an artist.

What about distribution?

DistroKid is a popular digital distribution service that allows artists to upload and distribute their music to a variety of streaming platforms and music stores. It is a convenient and cost-effective option for independent artists who want to get their music out to a wider audience. However, like any service, there are both pros and cons to consider when deciding whether or not to use DistroKid.

One of the main pros of DistroKid is its affordability. DistroKid charges a flat fee of $19.99 per year for unlimited music uploads and distribution to a variety of platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. This is significantly cheaper than many other digital distribution services, which often charge a percentage of sales or a per-track fee.

Another pro of DistroKid is the convenience it offers. With a simple online interface, it is easy for artists to upload and distribute their music to multiple platforms with just a few clicks. Additionally, DistroKid offers a variety of tools and resources to help artists promote and monetize their music, including customizable artist profiles, track and album pre-order options, and tools to track streams and sales.

However, there are also some cons to consider when using DistroKid. One potential downside is the lack of human curation. Unlike some other distribution services that offer playlist curation and other personalized recommendations, DistroKid relies solely on algorithms to decide which tracks to feature. This can make it harder for new artists to get their music in front of listeners.

Another potential con is the lack of support for physical releases. While DistroKid does allow artists to distribute digital music, it does not offer distribution for physical CDs or vinyl. This may be a drawback for artists who want to release physical copies of their music.

DistroKid is a convenient and cost-effective option for independent artists looking to distribute their music to a variety of streaming platforms. While there are some potential downsides to consider, its affordability and convenience make it a good choice for many artists.

With those tips at hand, do I become a successful music artist now?

The short answer is: No, it’s not that simple.

shallow focus photography of man wearing red polo shirt
Photo by Nathan Cowley on

Becoming a popular music artist is a challenging and competitive process that requires a lot of hard work, talent, and dedication. There are many factors that can contribute to an artist’s success, and the path to fame and recognition is often unpredictable. Here are a few of the main challenges that artists may face on their journey to becoming popular:

  1. Competition: There are a lot of aspiring musicians out there, and it can be difficult to stand out in such a crowded field. It takes a unique sound, strong talent, and a lot of hard work to rise above the competition and get noticed by industry professionals and fans.
  2. Marketing and promotion: Even if an artist has great talent and a unique sound, it can be difficult to get their music heard without proper marketing and promotion. This requires a lot of time, energy, and often a budget to promote the artist and their music through social media, live performances, and other channels.
  3. Funding: The music industry can be expensive, and it takes money to produce, distribute, and promote music. Many aspiring artists struggle to find the funding they need to take their careers to the next level, and may have to rely on crowdfunding, grants, or other sources of financial support.
  4. Industry gatekeepers: The music industry is often controlled by a small group of industry professionals, such as record labels, managers, and agents. It can be difficult for artists to get noticed by these gatekeepers, who often have their own agendas and may not be interested in supporting new or unknown artists.
  5. Rejections and setbacks: Becoming a popular artist requires resilience and determination. Artists will likely face many rejections and setbacks along the way, and it can be tough to stay motivated and keep going when things don’t go as planned.

Overall, becoming a popular music artist is a challenging and competitive process that requires a lot of hard work, talent, and dedication. While it is not easy, the rewards of a successful music career can be well worth the effort.

Would I recommend you to walk this rocky and hard path? Neither nor. It all depends on how much you want to achieve that goal, how much you are willing to work and sacrifice for it and last but not least: how much talent you have, and by that I don’t just mean musical talent.

Are you ready for that? What’s your goal, and what are you willing to to put in?

Why I Abandoned Social Media

When social media became “the new thing” and every artist was recommended to join the hype, I was very skeptical at first. I came late to the party of the two top dogs, Twitter in 2007, Facebook only in 2009, after the pressure on me from all sides grew too great. At least that’s how it felt to me at the time, or what I told myself… but there’s a good chance I just had the same need for recognition as everyone else and was afraid of missing out and not being recognized appropriately. As you grow older, fortunately that disappears.

Instagram was about photography once

I thought Instagram was pretty good at first… the filters looked cool and it was more about the photos than anything else. Until Facebook took over and turned it into a drug for people with an inferiority complex.

Anti-Social Media

I’ve never really felt comfortable with anti-social media, and I’ve also struggled to generate huge followings. There were decent numbers lately, but not enormous. That may have something to do with the fact that my audience has a rather limited affinity for social media. Something like that always has a direct connection with the kind of music you make.

In all these years, I have experienced everything on social media that internet experts and psychologists are now warning of: abuse, hate, completely pointless and unnecessary discussions, exposing the private to the public (something I don’t like at all) and a very stupid thing: living out conflicts in public, in front of people you don’t really know.

Necessary for artists?

For a long time, I myself succumbed to the belief that as an artist you have to be present on social media in order to be and remain relevant. A few years ago, I severely restricted my activity there. And what happened? You guess it:

Nothing. People consumed my music the same as before. All of a sudden, I had more time for what really mattered and less headaches from some poor souls annoying me online.

At the time, people were already asking me to post more and “stick with it”. I shouldn’t leave the field to “them”. I stopped believing early in life that I could make the world a better place by trying to convert people, so I didn’t comply with those requests. People tend to believe what makes them feel good, not what is closest to the truth. That’s why public discussion is really not my world. I’m too much of a realist, and I don’t like having a lot of people around me either in real life or virtually.

When blogging was a thing

Before I jumped on the social media bandwagon, I was a relatively avid blogger. I’ve always been a political person and liked to write about social criticism, of course music-related and generally about my random thoughts. Because of social media, actual blogging made no sense to me anymore, so I stopped.

It wasn’t always about the public discussion; I felt the need to share my thoughts. Today I only have this need very slightly, and if I have to get rid of my thoughts, then in my private environment or of course in and with my music.

What now?

But there are things I want to tell you every now and then. I definitely still have thoughts for which music is not the right means of communication. I would like to use this website exclusively for this purpose in the future. If you’re interested, you can stop by here, subscribe to the feed, or have posts delivered to your inbox.

I’ll be 50 years old in a few weeks. The time for bullshit is long gone. When you’re young, it’s totally okay, understandable, and normal to engage in bullshit. I did that extensively and learned a lot from it. I don’t blame anyone for hanging out and being active on social media. Everyone does what they think they have to do.

My time has come to only take care of myself, my loved ones, my music and my affairs. I live a meaningful life with a lot of things in it that deserve and need my attention. And none of this has anything to do with social media or networks of this kind. 

Good-bye bullshit

I turned my back on social media because it brings out the worst in people. It’s antisocial media. And now an egomaniac who poses as if he wants to save the world or humanity has bought Twitter. The hand puppet Zuckerberg was enough, now that?

I had more than enough reasons to delete my profiles altogether. No more “social” networks. Anyone who is interested in me is welcome here on this website.

I've stripped my entire digital life down to the bare essentials. No unnecessary apps on my smartphone or computer. I'm no longer afraid of missing out. I experienced and saw most of what I wanted to experience and see. And for everything that is still there, I still have enough time.

I may have gotten a bit older and gray, maybe gained some weight, lost hair, but I’m still fit and have a never-ending bucket list. I spend most of my free time outdoors in nature, with my partner and the dogs, hiking, adventures, enjoying the beauty of nature, shooting photos and videos. My artistic soul still pours itself into music as well. I’ll let you know here on this website if there’s anything new.

I have many good reasons to be happy. I’m not always that, but there are still good reasons for it. I have everything I need and more. You too.

I don’t need social media. Neither do you. But it’s up to you to determine that. I will be here waiting for you. 😉

UPDATE from 2 February 2023 by Zizi Papacharissi


Platforms are on life support. Alternative AI interfaces are on the rise. Meta is shifting emphasis away from Facebook to AR- and VR-enabled portals for interaction. Mastodon is emerging as a friendlier, smaller-scale (for now) antidote to the mass interaction most platforms foster. Twitter has transitioned from serving as the PR instrument of President Trump to the pet project of a billionaire. People have begun to exit platforms en masse, leaving behind zombie accounts with many followers and no activity. They download content and lock up accounts. It almost feels like they’re locking up house and leaving hostile territory, hoping possibly to return when things are normal again, whatever that may mean. The people are leaving; the bots keep gaining ground.

The Ultimate Harmonic Mixing & Composing Chart

Before you dig in…

The Ultimate Harmonic Mixing & Composing Chart is a visual aid for musicians, producers, composers and DJs to easily create music that always has harmonic chord progressions. This sheet is now widely used worldwide as a teaching and practical tool in music and DJ schools and has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.

The situation

As both a DJ and composer, the Circle of Fifth or the Camelot Key Wheel system — amongst others — have always been handy tools for me to write and mix music harmonically. There are just too many options in chord progressions than I could ever have in my memory (maybe you can, but I don’t).

So yes, I could always have a look at above mentioned helpers to orientate myself through the notes and chords jungle, in case needed, which is not always the case. I have the most common chords in my head. Just not always.

As a composer I’m fine with the musical key/chord system, i.e. “A minor“, but as a DJ it isn’t very likely (for me, again) to remember all the musical chords to know what to mix into what. So, Mark Davis came up with Camelot Keys (used in Mixed in Key, which I prefer, because of its accuracy) and then there are the Open Keys (Traktor). Which is basically a range of 12 keys for each gender, major and minor chords. “A minor” is 8A (Camelot Key) or 1m (Open Key).

In a nutshell: if you mix 1A into 2A (and so forth, up until 12A and then into 1A again) you’re generally fine. Your mixing transitions will always be harmonic, no key clashes. This example is the very basic part of harmonic mixing or composing. And also, a bit boring if you do that all the time. It becomes really good and interesting when you use all the options within the world of chord progressions.

What I was missing in all those years of composing and mixing was ONE chart (to rule them all) that shows me ALL key/chord systems and their equivalents, their piano keys (very useful for composing) and their harmonic keys/chords. I searched the interwebs in order to find out if someone did this, but no one did.

The solution

So, I did it myself. 8 hours work and I had what I was looking for. And since I guess this could be useful for every musician/DJ, I want to share it here with you. This is how it looks like (click to open the full resolution file):

The Ultimate Harmonic Mixing Composing Chart
Click to open large version, right-click to save

You can download the high-res PNG image above, print it out and use it for yourself, if you like. Here’s a PDF and the original EXCEL version of it, in case you want to edit/modify something for your needs (let me know when you find mistakes or when you improved it!):


What does it do, how do I use this?

Let’s take an example for a composing or mixing situation:

The chord we’re working with at the moment is A minor (or 8A, or 1m). What shall be next? Everything in the table below — around the 8A — is possible, it will be harmonic. The closer to the 8A it is the more harmonic it’ll be.

Composing Keys

DJ Keys

Harmonic Keys

Western Music Scale
Piano Chord Keys
Camelot Key
Open Key
Scale Degree
DJ Keys up/down
D minor D + F + A 7A 12m Fourth (Sub-Dominant) -1
C major C + E + G 8B 1d Relative major

A minor

A + C + E



Same key (tonic)

E minor E + G + B 9A 2m Fifth (Dominant) 1
B-flat/♭ minor A# + C# + F 3A 8m Low energy boost 7
B minor B + D + F# 10A 3m High energy boost (supertonic) 2
A-flat/♭ minor G + B + D# 1A 6m Low energy drain -7
G minor G + A# + D 6A 11m High energy drain (leading tone) -2

But your decision what to do next is depending on the purpose. What kind of “feel” do you want to give your mix or composition?


Here are some possible chord progression scenarios, working with the Camelot Keys (which I prefer, at least for DJing), starting with 8A:

The “River”

That’s how I call it, it’s kind of a “secure standard”, nothing special, it’s just flowing along:

8A > 9A > 10A … 12A > 1A > 2A and so forth, until you’re at 7A and back into 8A again

Audio sample:

Music used: Ingo Vogelmann “Albert” (8A) > Tripswitch “Proximity Effect” (9A) > Mike Griego “What Lies Beyond” (10A) 

You can’t go wrong with this one, you just rock “around the clock”. Depending on the energy level of actual music/sequence used, transitions changes can be very energetic, though.

The “Little Ocean Wave”

The energy of this chord progression has the shape of an ocean wave or a sawtooth:

8A > 9A > 11A (+2 DJ keys, high energy boost) > 12A > 1a and so forth

Audio sample:

Music used: Ingo Vogelmann “Albert” (8A) > Tripswitch “Proximity Effect” (9A) > Bobby Deep “Egopunk” (11A) 

You can do this once in a while to give your mix a little energy boost, which makes it more interesting than the “River”.

The “Big Ocean Wave”

8A > 9A > 4A (+7 DJ keys, low energy boost) > 6A (+2 DJ keys, high energy boost) > 7a and so forth

Audio sample:

Music used: Ingo Vogelmann “Albert” (8A) > Tripswitch “Proximity Effect” (9A) > Michael A “Storm” (4A) > Robert Babicz “Kinect” (6A) 

Here you have a longer and progressive wave of energy rising, until it falls back to normal at 7A again, just like an ocean wave crashing and the next one building up again.

The “Wild Ocean”

It’s a bit stormy, and the waters stirred up, but everything is still harmonic and in place. This is the most “interesting” way of mixing, things shouldn’t become boring:

8A > 8B (relative major) > 9A > 4A (+7 DJ keys, low energy boost) > 4B (relative major) > 6B (+2 DJ keys, high energy boost) > 7B > 2B (+7 DJ keys, low energy boost) > 4B (+2 DJ keys, high energy boost) > 5B and so forth

Audio sample:

Music used: Third Son & Wally Lopez “Geometry” (8A) > Ingo Vogelmann “Empire On Fire” (8B) > Antrim “The Mystic Lovers” (9A) > Michael A “Storm” (4A) > Raw District Feat. Jinadu “Taking You Down” (Habischman Remix) (4B)

I could make up a hell of a lot more examples now (with even sillier names), but you most probably already get the idea. The options are really endless, and you’ll always be composing or DJing harmonic. The above scenarios are just examples. Find out what works for yourself, I’m sure you’ll have fun experimenting with chord progressions, using this nifty chart. Oh, and don’t mind the silly names … it’s just about giving things a name. 😉

It’s free! Download, share, modify, re-publish and generally do with it whatever you want. But please, don’t pretend you did this. Credit would be nice (and fair) but is no condition.