Frequently Asked Questions

So what's Kicktone?

Kicktone is a place where independent artists like you can upload and sell their music online and find a new, engaged audience. Fans can stream your music, share it through social media, and purchase your music in a bunch of different formats to use on any device.

Isn't that just iTunes?

Well, no. Have you been to iTunes lately? When was the last time you saw an independent artist on the front page of iTunes? (And no, Macklemore doesn't count.) Point is, iTunes is quite nice if all you want to do is buy the latest music from the Top 40 list, but it's pretty rubbish for independent artists.

There's a few reasons for that - and you can read more about it on our blog - but the big one is that label-backed artists have the benefit of a huge amount of marketing and distribution support, which means heavy airplay and access to marketing channels that independent artists are locked out of. If you're an indie artist, you're pretty much screwed trying to make sales on iTunes unless you already have a huge fan base outside of iTunes, because it's still up to you to drive people to buy your music.

Kicktone is changing the equation. We give you the tools to put your music online quickly and easily (and for free), and we don't take a whopping 30% of your revenue and make you wait weeks to collect your money. We're building a network of music lovers who can discover your music quickly and easily, an audience that's targeted to your kind of sound, and who understand the unique, intimate relationship indie artists have with their fans.

Isn't that just Bandcamp, then?

Bandcamp and Soundcloud and iTunes are fantastic distribution platforms (we use all three every day), but distribution isn't the problem for most artists. It's not hard to put your music online, or share it on Facebook or whatever - literally anyone can figure out how to do that, and there are a hundred different sites you can visit if you just want somewhere to host your music.

The real problem most artists face is discovery: how do new fans find you, and how do you engage them?

iTunes is useless for bringing new fans to anyone (you can read more about that on our blog), and while Bandcamp is slightly better, their fan accounts are basically just a glorified transaction listing. What good is having a place to sell your music if there's nobody to sell your music to?

So the end goal for Kicktone is building a better discovery experience for fans of independent music, which benefits you by giving you access to a wider audience outside of your existing fan networks. With the launch of our fan accounts, we're now able to connect you with audiences you didn't know existed, and who you couldn't have reached without spending thousands of dollars on promotion.

We know there will always be people who prefer Bandcamp over Kicktone, and as long as they're the incumbent we'll always have an uphill battle to fight. But it's the same fight that you have - we're indie, we don't have million- dollar marketing budgets, so we just do the best we can to make it work.

Do I still own my music?

Absolutely, we're not a record label. We just want to distribute your music, and our Terms & Conditions are there to make sure that you really own the music you're uploading and that we have the OK to let people sample your music and for us to sell it on our website.

We don't have exclusive rights to your music (so you can still sell it in whatever way you like) and we don't lock you into future restrictions (so you're not locked into giving us your next 5 albums.) If you want to publish outside of Kicktone, that's cool. And if you decide to remove all your music from Kicktone some day, that's cool too.

We're never going to tell you what you can and can't do with your music. Don't expect any creative interference from us.

Why should I use Kicktone?

Well for a start you won't be paying the Apple tax. We don't know why iTunes takes so much of your money (well, we can guess) but we have no intention of fleecing you. We ensure that we only take what we need to keep the site running and send the rest of the money instantly back to you. And we mean instantly; purchasers will be depositing money straight into your PayPal account.

Another cool thing is that our site is clear of all the big-label noise that infects other distribution platforms. For us, it's all about the music, and not the person who has the biggest advertising budget. We want to let the music speak for itself.

And did we mention how easy it is to actually upload your album? Our album creation process is dead simple and once your music is uploaded, your album will be ready to sell in a matter of minutes.

How much does Kicktone charge?

Right now we're completely free to use during our beta period. When a fan buys your album, 100% of the sale goes directly to your PayPal account without passing through Kicktone at all. In the future we'll be charging 15% of each sale to cover the cost of hosting and distributing your music, and to help you with promotion and fan engagement. As always, we'd love to hear your feedback.

How much does an album cost?

We let you set the price for the albums you upload. It's only fair, after all - you made the music. We usually find that $7 is a great starting price, but it's totally up to you. If you have fans who are happy to pay a lot more than that to download your tracks, then go for it, but don't price yourself out of the market. Remember, success in music is about how many people get to hear the sounds you're making.

Oh, and another thing. The cost of an album is only a minimum cost. Fans can choose to pay more for the album if they really like it and they really believe in you. As Amanda Palmer keeps on proving, if you have a good relationship with your fans they'll support you in everything you do, so don't be afraid to ask fans to pitch in a few extra dollars if they like what you're doing. Musicians have to eat too, you know.

Why do you let people stream the whole track?

A lot of artists, especially at the start, make the fatal flaw of trying to stop people from listening to their music. Even as you're reading that sentence, you recognise how stupid that sounds, right? But that's exactly what you're doing if you offer music consumers nothing more than 30 second snippets.

People who buy music don't hear 30 seconds of a track and decide the whole album is worth paying for. Music doesn't work that way, it's never worked that way. You have to hear music first, a whole bunch of times, and then fall in love with it before you'll part with some cash to make it your own.

If you don't give music consumers a chance to hear your music, you're hurting your chances of actually selling them a copy. Existing fans who might have bought some of your stuff in the past get annoyed and you lose their trust, and new listeners never get a chance to become fans because buying an album based on a 30 second sound-bite is risky, and they'd rather spend their money on something they know - like other music they've heard a bunch of times.

If you want people to buy your music, let them hear it first. Trust us, it's the only way it works.

What's your take on DRM?

We're a DRM-free zone, and we always will be.

Look, we're not worried about pirates. People who pirate music are jerks who weren't going to buy your album in the first place, so the only people who get harmed by DRM are the people who actually buy it, and pissing off your fans isn't a good way to get ahead.

Instead, take advantage of the natural DRM that's built into every good person - maintain a close and meaningful relationship with your fans, and they'll understand that it's worth a few bucks to support your work.

What format should I download?

MP3 is the default format and unless you're a hardcore audiophile with thousands of dollars of sound equipment it's the format you'll probably want to use. MP3s work in iTunes, Winamp, Windows Media Player, on your phone - basically everywhere.

If you're one of the hardcore audiophiles mentioned above, we also provide lossless formats like FLAC and ALAC (Apple Lossless), as well as AAC and Ogg Vorbis. For reasons best known to Apple, iTunes doesn't support the FLAC or Ogg Vorbis formats so if you want to download lossless tracks you'll need to choose ALAC.

Got any badges or buttons?

Sure do. Our badges come in three sizes: small, medium, and big. Use this handy form to generate the kind of icon you want to use, and we'll generate a ZIP file containing all three sizes of the variation you've chosen.


You can also download a ZIP containing every size and variation here.

I have more questions!

Contact us any time through Facebook, Twitter, or email and we'll get back to you right away.