How to choose the best music distribution for you?
Part and parcel of getting your music out there into the world is ensuring that you can be found in all the right stores. That’s where digital distribution comes in.
We say “right” because, not everybody will want full coverage in every store, and appropriateness of certain services or platforms will be down to your judgement but generally most artists will likely want to get their music onto many of the key online stores and streaming platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Shazam and so on.
There are a few ways of doing this.
Firstly, you could try to create a label or artist account with each of the platforms and distribute things completely by yourself – however you’ll struggle with platforms like iTunes or Spotify, and other larger stores, since they won’t want to deal directly with you of your label. 99% of the time they will work with distributors and aggregators instead.
That more or less counts this method out, unless you’re looking to get into a handful of small, quite specific stores only (or only wish to deal with somewhere like Bandcamp exclusively).
Alternatively you could set up your own small label (a wise move, since many stores will want a label to exist for any releases).
Even if you’re a solo artist, releasing just your own work, a token label name and setup would be worthwhile. Once set up – you could approach a digital distribution company and sign a contract with them for a year or so, working with them to figure out the best distribution options for each release, and entrusting them to handle the setup and aggregation.
Digital Distribution Platform
The third option, which is probably going to be most popular is to sign up with an aggregator or digital distribution platform.
This will allow you to upload your own music, setup the relevant information and artwork and then have your music beamed out to all the stores of your choice (although this may be restricted by the platform and their current aggrements).
This third option is what companies like MusicDiffusion, Tunecore, CDBaby, Distrokid, and countless other companies offer – all with varying levels of price, service, features and so on.
Choose Very Carefully
The most important thing you can do before you jump in, is weigh up your options and choose your distribution platform very carefully. Since changing platform, or moving your releases elsewhere, is not as easy as you might imagine.
Making the wrong choice this early in the game could lead to a fair bit of regret down the line, when you realise the mistakes you’ve made.
So we’d like to cover a number of things we should think seriously about before choosing a distributor or aggregator of choice.
Profit Percentage Cut
This is essentially the amount of money you get back from the distributor after they have taken their commission fee from your sales profit.
Some distributors will give you 100% of the sales profit, some will only pass back 90%, some even less. Usually a 100% profit cut from the distributor means you’ll be charged in some other way, either from upload fees, or recurring fees. At MusicDiffusion, our members get 90% royalties, and we use to think that a 100% royalties reversed is a commercial lie. You can check MusicDiffusion pricing plans here.
Distributors can charge you fees in a number of ways. Some clear, some a little more hazy.
There could be a sign-up fee. This is a flat fee for joining with them.
You may also be charged a “label registration” fee, in order to set up your label with stores that require it. This often takes the form of a custom label name more than anything else.
On top of that (or alternatively) you could be charged monthly or yearly fees to use the service.
And if none of the above apply, you will likely be charged to upload your release. Commonly there is a set of 2 or 3 options for uploading releases. A single, an EP or an album. Each will have an associated fee, and amount of tracks, or length of tracks will determine which type of release you’re dealing with.
Some distributors opt for a per-track fee instead. This is the case for MusicDiffusion which propose 3 plans: free upload to Spotify, 2.99€ by track to deliver to all major stores and platforms. And we also have an unlimited plan to distribute how much artists and releases you want for only 15 €/Year. If you stop the subscription, your catalog stay online ! You can check MusicDiffusion pricing plans here.
Many distribution platforms make their money via extra costs incurred, when you want to do something beyond the basic distribution setup. This can involve numerous things.
Anything from extra stores (beyond a core offering) to iTunes pre-orders, Youtube monetisation, Shazam registration, digital booklets, extra detailed reports, or UPC codes.
Again, it’s about making sure you know exactly what fees are involved, and what you’re getting. If you’re not sure, there’s no harm in checking the FAQs or emailing sales to make sure.
MusicDiffusion has all options included into our plans, Youtube, Shazam, ISRC Codes, future stores or whatever you need. You can check MusicDiffusion pricing plans here.
What Stores Do You Want?
Many digital distributors offer the same core selection of stores, but be aware if you’re looking for one store or platform in particular (Beatport, Junodownload or perhaps a location or genre-specific store) you may need to make sure your distributor covers it.
Most distributors offer a list of stores, but be aware that due to the changing landscape of the digital music industry these lists will go out of date and can change regularly.
Again the best way to be 100% sure, is to get in touch with them and ask. It’s most likely that they will be able to send you their most up to date stores list too.
How you get paid by the distributor may affect your choice of which to go with. Generally most seem to pay into Paypal or a bank account, but the regularity of these payments and the threshold at which these payments happens varies.
Some will pay you right away, some will pay you weekly or monthly, and some may only pay you when you request it.
Thresholds can vary from zero, right up to needing a $50 profit or more before you can get paid. At MusicDiffusion payment are done under one month after request, with a threshold up at €50 (but this threshold may be downgraded by demand on your account).
Level of Support
This may not be so much of an issue if you’re aware of what you’re getting yourself in for, but even for the experts, it’s handy to have responsive support staff.
Generally all platforms offer email support, often with response rates of around a day or two.
Article taken from Howtoselfrelease.com. Read the full article here.