Tag Archives: Music Distribution

The Ultimate Digital Music Distribution Round-Up (Part Trois)

I’ve actually been promising an update to my two earlier posts on digital music distribution for waaay too long now, so apologies to all for the horrible delay (April 2009? What the..). Anyway. In case you missed them…

Part 1: ‘Exploring The Digital Music Distribution Jungle’ April 2009
Part 2: ”Digital Music Distribution Round-up Part 2′ April 2009

There were seventeen companies mentioned in Pt.1 and thirteen in Pt.2. Out of them, the only change to report from part one is that Australian based Musicadium has been rolled into Valleyarm.

In part two, WaTunes dropped their bespoke distribution service and changed tack to become a ‘social music store’ and now choose to go thru ReverbNation for distribution services.

The rest, as you were.

Rather than go over the same points here you’ll be much better off catching up with the first two parts. To make things a little more convenient I’m welding the three pieces together as one PDF so you can print and study at leisure.

Some points you may want to take into consideration when choosing a distributor.

Location. Is your distributor of choice in your own country? Possibly a key issue because of currency differences and support concerns. Do they have phone support? A physical address?

Read the websites about page to find out names, history and credentials. If they have none, move on. Use Google. A lot.

Always amazes me when some site pops up claiming combined “20+ years industry experience” but giving no actual NAMES. Then you get a PO BOX for a mailing address. Run. In the opposite direction. Continue reading

Digital Music Distribution Round-Up Part Two

I didn’t get to mention all the digital music distribution outlets that I wanted too in my (part 1) post a few days ago, ‘Exploring The Digital Music Distribution ‘Jungle’’, so I thought I’d update the list in this ‘quick’ additional post. Thanks also to the  feedback and suggestions I got, especially from 101 Distribution and @Charles at 247 Entertainment.

Again I’ll refer to the  major download retailers as the ‘Big 5’ which right now would be iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, Napster and Rhapsody.

Pro Music – Online Music Stores – Not a distribution company but an online worldwide map of legal online digital music retail stores listed by country and maintained by the IFPI and a very good resource for checking out worldwide outlets. The same website maintains  weekly download chart links across mainland Europe and Japan. Right now Lady GaGa seems to be universally topping the charts across Europe with ‘Poker Face’.

digital-music-revenues-2008-ifpi

EPM Electronic – (Maastricht, Netherlands & London, UK)- European based company with a very comprehensive list of stores they service, including the ‘big 5’ worldwide and a very large selection of niche and independent retailers, including all the major electronic dance music stores across the USA, the whole of Europe, Asia and the Far East. Also cover some of the major mobile platforms like Nokia, Vodaphone and 3 Mobile. MySpace.

Its one of those application deals, where you fill in a short form and upload a music sample. There’s no terms on the website but there’s a demo page for label management.

WaTunes -(Atlanta, Georgia, USA)- One of the newer aggregator/distribution channels around, WaTunes are different from just about all the rest in that there is no sign up fee (at the moment) and the artist gets to keep 100% of sales royalties. They distribute to four of the ‘ big 5’ (excluding Rhapsody), plus Shockhound, Zune, Beats Digital and Masterbeat. I’m not entirely comfortable with the ‘everything is free’ revenue model tbh as it doesn’t exactly stimulate financial stability. CEO Kevin Rivers is  blogging here and tweeting here if you want to fire questions. MySpace.

Vidzone Digital Media -(London, UK) – leading distributor of Independent music via mobile networks internationally. More than 130 distribution partnerships across 40 countries. Have a very informative PDF of digital music FAQs too. A checklist of the basics and more advanced info on need to know stuff like UPCs, Metadata and ISRCs. Aimed at labels rather than individuals.

digital-music-revenues-2008-ifpi

Digital Pressure -(Hollywood, CA, USA)- Another long standing big player on the digital distribution front and one of the first. Digital Pressure have been around since 1997 and are a subdivision of Peer Music. Seem to work more with labels/catalog and a percentage cut with no upfront fees. MySpace. Twitter.

“Our contracts with content owners are four-year, non-exclusive distribution agreements. These simple contracts empower Digitalpressure to become your exclusive agent for all of the partners within our global distribution network, but allow you to distribute your music outside of our relationship through any other service or site, including your own.” Contact page.

Ingrooves -(San Francisco, CA, USA) – Long standing distributor who also specialize in licensing music. Main site was down at time of writing. Another aggregator working with a percentage  share. MySpace.

Zebralution -(Berlin/London/LA)- One of the longer standing independent digital music distributors headed up in Berlin, Germany with multiple regional offices worldwide. Huge network of retailers worldwide including the ‘big 5’, genre specific retailers and mobile music outlets. Warners acquired a significant stake in the company in 2007.  There’s an application process for labels hereMySpace.

The CAN
-(Australia) – Oz based Chaos Artist Network supply all major digital retailers globally (iTunes etc) and traditional retailers throughout Australia (JB Hi Fi, Sanity, Big W, Leading Edge etc). Distribute physical product, CDs and DVDs as well as servicing digital retailers. Part of the Stomp entertainment group. MySpace.

EarBuzz.com -(New Jersey, USA)- Two programs offered here, the earBuzz set-up, which costs $25 sign-up and $2 a month for you to sell Cds and downloads on the earBuzz website. An additional $39 enters you into the WWX program which gets you into the ‘big 5’ retailers, ringtone store Myxer, We7 and LaLa. There’s same day payout for sales onsite and 100% royalty share. MySpace.

DashGo -(Santa Monica, CA,USA) – A slightly different selling point from Dashgo. They distribute music via the usual ‘big 5’ retailers and also offer placement on social music outlets including LastFM, iMeem, Blast My Music, iLike and YouTube which includes analytics breakdown. Also provide “full-service digital sales and marketing solutions, promoting your content to digital retailers, securing positioning with social sites, and soliciting coverage on influencer blogs and discovery sites.” Also offer the Audioswop service with YouTube. Twitter.

Kontor New Media -(Hamburg, Germany)Worldwide digital content distribution of music, video, ringtones and audio books. Include the ‘big 5’ and a bunch of dance music outlets, Zune, Nokia, FNAC, 7 Digital and mobile music retailers. Contact. MySpace.

Consolidated Independent – (London, UK)- Not a service for individual artists. CI only works with labels or distributors with more than 200 tracks in their catalog. Fees start from £150 a month. Cover just about every retailer on the planet it seems and promise to get labels into ones that aren’t already on their list.

FineTunes-(Hamburg, Germany)- Not to be confused with Finetune. Finetunes distribute across all the major digital retailers as well as providing software solutions for labels, download stores and artists websites. Twitter. MySpace.

Was going to add Wild Palms but their website seems to be in disaray right know, so we’ll see later.


Related Resources

Digital Distribution For Unsigned Artists (PDF) (Chaos.com)
WaTunes Sells Your Music On iTunes And Amazon Free Of Charge (Techcrunch.com)
Get Music Online-Online Music Stores (Pro-Music.org)
DashGo Connects Musicians and Labels to Social Media (Mashable.com)
IFPI Digital Music Report 2009 (32pg. PDF) (IFPI)
The Digital Top 40 FAQ PDF (VidZone Digital Media)
Independent Distribution Solution:Getting Records from Concept To Consumer (Narip.com) (MP3 audio files with PDF and Excel Spreadsheet documents in a zip file.$59.99)
Music and Metadata (XML.com)
Digital Distribution (BeMuso.com)
Should I Do Something About Metadata? (NewMusicStrategies.com)

101 Distribution Correction

I mentioned 101 Distribution in my digital distribution round-up here:

101 Distribution – (Phoenix, Arizona, USA) – Not sure what warrants the high costs here. But there’s a massive $599 sign up fee, then $49.95 a month. 100% payout of all sales. You’re gonna need it with those kind of upfronts! You can Twitter questions why, here: @101Distribution

Arizona based music and video distributor 101 Distribution

from my post earlier in the week.

Anyway, I did get a few Tweets from the guys at 101 explaining that their Pro setup is only $599, there is no monthly charge on top. The $49.95 monthly charge is actually a ‘payment plan’ for artists who can’t stump up the 600 big ones up front.

I did promise 101 I’d clear that up for them, so here you go!

Torrent Distribution Experiment

I mentioned the free music as viral marketing thing in an earlier post and thought I’d expand on it here.

I’ve just uploaded a bunch of some of the earlier versions of the 99th Floor Elevators, ‘Hooked’ for free download via MiniNova distribution. Think of it as an experiment to see if this has any effect on raising the profile of the 99th Floor Elevators in expectation of new material later this year and newer remixes of ‘Hooked’ also coming from Suesse Records.

Its all packaged as a Torrent and you’ll get five remixes and the original promotional video of ‘Hooked’ that was broadcast on MTV way back when. You can see the video on YouTube (see Elevators blog post here).

The audio files are all 192kbps MP3’s and the mixes included are:

Hooked Classic Remixes

Hooked-0d40412inch

Tony deVit Classic Trade Remix. This was the one that really made things fly for the 99th Floor Elevators, taking the humble white label original mix and stretching it into a near ten minute arms in the air club monster. Much credit must be given to Tony’s low profile engineer/co-producer Simon Parkes.

Originally a national top 30 hit in the UK before being re-issued as part of a Tripoli Trax double twelve inch remix package.

KillerHurts RemixDJ James Nardi and production partner Julian Dwyer, took chunks of inspiration from the OD404 and Pete Wardman remixes, added their own nails and came up with probably the perfect hard-house mix ever. Available on one sided 12 inch too if you’re lucky enough to find one.

Paul King Remix. Paul basically re-invents/updates the TDV mix for the 21st century with a monster synth riff from the Gods 2.30 minutes in that’ll have arms reaching for the sky. Previously available only as a very hard to find one sided 12inch white. Over nine minutes long.

torrent

OD404 Remix. Possibly my personal favorite mix and one I never tire of. Managed to take a Euro house gay anthem and turn it into the Prodigy with kick drums. Awesome.

Phlash Pop Edit. Only ever seen on a very limited release Tripoli Trax white label vinyl 12 and later on a CD single. Phlash! were ex-Tripoli A&R guy and DJ Steve Hill and engineer Mick Shiner (aka Nylon) and if you like your dance bouncy and radio friendly this is the version for you. Infectious stuff.

If you prefer the traditional route of MP3 download then you can grab each MP3 on my Drop.io page where you can either stream or download each track before deciding on the Torrent option.

I use and recommend UTorrent for my Torrents. Its less than half a meg download and spyware free. Install if you don’t already have a Torrent client.

Go to the ‘Hooked’ Torrent download link here. It’ll automatically open your Torrent client and you’ll get a pop up box so you can select which mixes you want and which you don’t want, if you don’t want the whole bunch. Click OK when you’re done and that’s it.

The files are very well seeded (well over 100 seeds as I write) so it’ll take something like 15 minutes to download the whole 74mb collection, depending on your connection speed. There’s a U Torrent beginners guide here and details on MiniNova Torrent distribution here if you’re considering getting some of your own tracks out and about ultra quick.

I uploaded the Hooked files to Mininova lunch time yesterday, by the time I’d left work five hours later Google had already indexed ’99th Floor Elevators Torrent’ and it was being seeded by users. A day later the package has over 100 seeders which means excellent download speed and availability.

Related Links

Mininova Content Distribution (Mininova.org)
Hey Content Producers, Get In The P2P Torrent Cloud (Lx7.ca)
Embracing The Torrent Of Online Video (BBC)
Thoughts On BitTorrent Distribution For A Public Broadcaster (NRKBeta)
Why You Must and How to Implement a Free Song Strategy (UnsprungMedia.com)

Physical Music Distribution: How And Where?

There’s been much talk here about digital distribution and even vinyl records and its true enough that digital distribution has demystified music distribution for the diy label and artist but the reality is that (legal) download services still only have a third of the full retail music market share, so CDs, (at least for the time being) and even vinyl are still around and wont be going anywhere for a while yet.

“Digital sales now account for an estimated 15% of the global music market, up from 11% in 2006 and zero in 2003. In the world’s biggest digital music market, the US, online and mobile sales now account for 30% of all revenues” IFPI Digital Music Report 2008

We’ve already talked about vinyl pressings and it has looked a little bleak for quite a while with stories of closures of vinyl distributors. Which has once again bought up the ‘vinyl is dead’ catcalls. But, despite the sometimes negative outlook there is a renewed interest in vinyl (which I wrote about here).

“Chain stores don’t know what to do with vinyl and I would rather indie stores make money off of my products. Nearly all of the records have been sold through the Vinyl Collective website or through mom and pop retailers..” Virgil Dickerson – Surburban Home Records

Vinyl or CD?

Well, how much money have you got? Manufacturing a vinyl record is much costlier than a CD. 1000 CDs in jewel cases, retail ready will cost around $1200 from somewhere like Discmakers. 1000 vinyl albums would be more than double that from somewhere like UR Pressings in Nashville.

Unless you have a major following (then you wont be reading this anyway) then 1000 vinyl albums (or singles for that matter) is probably over doing it a little. 500 still works out at around $4 per unit for vinyl. Its less than half that for CDs. Consider that if you’re worried about being able to shift 500 hard copies then maybe you should stick with the download option.

Where To Sell?

If you have a good live following and play regular then 500 sounds like a number you could sell via gigs, your website, a link on your MySpace page and mail order (CD Baby and Amazon Advantage are the two outlets that spring to mind).

Follow Virgil Dickerson’s advice (see above quote) and stick to indie stockists for shifting vinyl singles. Hopefully there will be an independent retailer left near you that you can approach. If not send a copy to a key retailer and see if they’ll take 5/10 copies.

Whats a key retailer? Any well known music store in a big/happening city. Rough Trade and BM Soho (aka Black Market) in London would be two. Fat Beats (in NY and LA) would be one, Y and T in Miami  would be one so would Amoeba in LA.

All the mentioned stores have a ‘buzz’ surrounding them, all have a bit of a scene around them. They’re hangouts too. Like good record stores used to be.

Of course this is no definitive list. Make your own. Do your research in your own particular music genre (and even left field artists have their outlets). Read MP3 blogs, artist blogs, make notes, use Google!

If you sign up for (CD) distribution via CD Baby, part of the deal is that your release (and you do need that barcode to get in there) gets added to the database at national distributor Super D who cover over 2000 stores in the USA.

Another way of an indie artist getting into (US) retail chains is via FYE’s Localeyez program.

Be Aware!

I’d warn anyone against sending their whole pressing run (CDs or vinyl) to one distributor. Chances are you can shift that short run yourself anyway so instead send a box or two to outlets that can get you into key markets or exports. If you’re in Florida and you lost 20 units to a distributor in LA, you can live with that. If you had the whole run sent there and something goes wrong, you’re screwed.

Trying to get a distributor interested is not much different than trying to get signed to a label. Instead of sending your music to a record label, you’re sending your music to a distributor.

And again, here, do your research when looking for a distributor. Larger distributors wont really consider one off releases from bands or artists without a track record. Look at independent records or artists that you like and find out who distributes them. Find their MySpace page, email them. Make sure you get through to the person at the distributor who is most likely to be into the music you are pitching.

I’ve listed a good list of distributors to start you off here:

UK

Plastic Head – (Extreme Metal to Hip hop, Techno to Reggae, Ambient chill out to Hardcore Punk
Proper Most genres
Kudos – Dance, soul
ST Holdings – Drum’n’Bass, Hip Hop, Breakbeat, Techno, House, Down Tempo and Dub Step
Shell Shock – Independents

USA

City Hall Records – Jazz, Blues, Rap/Hip Hop, and World Beat
Revolver USA Rock, punk, dance
Nail Distribution – Indie rock, indie pop, electronic, punk, alternative rock, avant-jazz, vintage funk & soul, classic punk, experimental, evil metal, sweater-core, strumpet core, hardcore, emo and just about any other edgy genre
Red Eye USA – all indie genres
TRC Distribution – DJs/dance
Thirty Tigers

Related Reading

Why Do People Buy Records? (MatadorRecords.com)
Find Music Distribution (About.com)
IFPI Publishes Digital Music Report 2008 (IFPI) 28pg PDF
Vinyl Roundup (Donewaiting.com)
Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CimsMusic.com)
Music Industry Statistics (Wikipedia)
The Vinyl Frontier (Test Industries)
Response to Wired’s “Vinyl May be Final Nail in CD’s Coffin”(IndieHQ)
USB Turntables Raise Vinyl From the Dead (Straight.com)

Step By Step MP3 Distribution Project

Before I started producing dance music I used to strut my stuff as the lead singer of an alternative rock band called the Fruit Eating Bears, who’s main claim to fame seemed to be the ‘unpredictable’ nature of the live gigs (ie: things tended to depend a lot on how much we’d been drinking that day). We also discovered another Fruit Eating Bears which meant we had to ditch the name as well.

In our rare sober moments we got a bit of a following in our local area of South Yorkshire, UK, played the legendary Bull and Gate in Kentish Town, London, appeared on Gary Crowley’s Radio London show, Demo Clash and even had (the then) Phonogram Record company A&R guy ringing us.

Uptempo Tantrum EP The Buzzsonic

Getting to the point a little, we recorded a four track EP which never saw the light of day but which we have decided to get uploaded to iTunes to see how things go. So, starting today the ‘Uptempo Tantrum EP’ experiment begins. We decided to use the band name, the Buzzsonic seeing as its the only thing we could think of that hadn’t already been used for a band.

I got a contact to design the cover (which looks pretty neat) and am signing up for distribution using Tunecore, whom I also used for my 99th Floor Elevators remix project release.

So, step one. Encode hi-bitrate MP3s from my CD master using the CDex Lame encoder, add tags and upload to Tunecore as we speak. Now to put together some kind of readable PR sheet!

To help the project with some much needed PR, one of the tracks, ‘Remember’ has been picked up by an independent film company for usage briefly in the film, ‘Behind The Scenes of Total Hell’. BTSOTH apparently gets it premier at the Curzon Cinema in London sometime next month and is the work of film maker Andy Wilton. I think the film is going straight to DVD but there’s supposed to be a CD tie in which should be good.

Related Reading

Fruit Eating Bears (MySpace)
Get Your MP3 Tags In Order (Wired.com)
Bob Bakers Indie Promotion Blog (Bob-Baker.com)
Cyber PR (Ariel Publicity)