For artists and labels looking to sell immersive music online, there are some choices to be made! Immersive audio has taken a while to catch up with stereo sound in terms of streaming and downloading. Previously, large file sizes and unusual formats were prohibitive. This isn’t a problem anymore, and there are a number of ways to sell immersive audio directly to fans, either as physical media on a DVD, or as a digital download.
Immersive Audio Album
Immersive Audio Album gives you the chance to sell directly to a community of fanatical audiophiles! People who know the difference between Dolby Atmos and 5.1.
High-quality FLAC files are a popular way for people to buy and sell on this platform, which is dedicated to fans of the immersive formats of listening to music.
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Bandcamp allows you to sell FLAC files which can carry immersive audio. It’s a good option for selling directly to your fans. However, the file types can get confusing. You can’t upload different versions of a FLAC, so a stereo mix and a 5.1 mix would need separate product pages.
With a few downsides, Bandcamp is great for selling digital and physical media to fans.
HDTracks does have some examples of selling high resolution immersive files. They’re focused on the best quality audio files possible, and much of their music is sold in 24-bit files. However, it’s hard to find immersive audio on the platform. It doesn’t seem to be their focus or even something they want to highlight as a brand.
Still selling your immersive audio in a physical format? The world of 3D sound is actually more accepting of this than most. A lot of lovers of surround sound still have big collections of physical CDs and DVDs. Anyone can set up a seller account on Amazon, and you can either ship the products yourself, or pay to have them stored in a warehouse and the orders are fulfilled by Amazon staff.
Streaming platforms allow you to upload and distribute immersive audio, usually in Dolby Atmos. This newer format has been passed on from the movie theater technology and can be streamed via a number of devices. Royalties aren’t high for musicians, but it is a good way to get your immersive music heard by the masses, and people are more likely to give your release a virtual “spin” if they don’t have to pay for it specifically.
Tidal started to support Dolby Atmos in 2020. Though the platform hasn’t taken over from the bigger streaming platforms like Spotify, it’s popular among those looking for high-quality audio. To publish music on Tidal you need to go through a distribution company such as Indigoboom, Record Union, DistroKid, Tunecore, AvidPlay or recordJET.
Amazon Music HD
You can rely on Amazon to get in on the act. Their HD format makes sense if you’re already a Prime member. They offer lossless FLAC at 24bit/192kHz which is suitable for uploading immersive audio files.
Amazon Music HD also has a feature that turns stereo files into 3D. In the words of Amazon, “3D audio turns stereo tracks into a multidimensional audio experience”. This doesn’t have the same impact as immersive audio, but it shows how attitudes are changing.
One limitation of Amazon Music HD’s Atmos catalog is that it can only be played on an Amazon Echo Studio speaker.
In May 2021, Apple announced they were joining the immersive streaming game with Spatial Audio, which is included free of charge with all Apple Music subscriptions. Spatial Audio tracks with support for Dolby Atmos and Lossless Audio starts at 16 bit at 44.1 kHz (kilohertz), and goes up to 24 bit at 48 kHz. There is even an option for Hi-Resolution Lossless all the way up to 24 bit at 192 kHz for the audiophile.