Phew, well now I’ve actually finished a blog post for the first time in over a year (hey I’ve been too busy over at Twitter) I thought I would ‘weld’ together my three lengthy posts on digital music distribution and put them out there as one lovely PDF!
Now take into account that I haven’t reorganized anything so you’ll be getting them in chronological order from the top. I’m going to post it at Google Docs so feel free to grab. This is just the rough’ beta mix’ as I do intend to tidy it up and reorganise very soon. Feedback please!
I’ve touched on music distribution issues here before with Tunecore, Bit Torrent and even good old analoguevinyl but thought I’d dig around a bit deeper as there seems to be new distribution services springing up on a regular basis these days. Be they aggregator or ‘widget’ type tools. Ill be covering digital music aggregators here first and covering website widgets later in the week.
Things To Consider When Choosing Digital Music Distribution
With the Internet its easy to research background on companies these days. Thats what Google is for. Do it. Search around the distributors website. Look for the names of people running the company. Put a shout out on Twitter or music forums if you need user feedback on any service.
What is the distributors background, how long has the company been around? What is the revenue model ? Upfront yearly admin fee (like Tunecore) or a percentage of sales (CD Baby take 9%).
Which digital retailers do the aggregators distribute too? Also, check the distributors list of bands, artists and labels that are using their services. Always a good reference point. Its reassuring to know that Tunecore (who I use) also handle digital distribution for established artists such as NiN, David Byrne & Brian Eno and Jay Z and newer MP3 blog faves like MGMT.
Also you need to know that you wont be signing away rights to your music and that you wont be tied down to any lengthy fixed terms
Music industry scribe Moses Avalon has a good breakdown of distribution terms for a few aggregators on his website. Its a couple of years old and as such covers only the longer established companies but is still very relevant. Continue reading →
Anyway, the track is a cross between late 80s UK goth (circa Banshees) and low-fi new wave, for want of a better description. There’s a fantastic dirty bassline wandering around in there too which brings to mind classic JJ Burnel in hisStranglers heyday.
There’s more music on the bands blog, the choice of which is ‘Winters Children’ and you can grab the MP3 here.
Very difficult to be totally definitive on this one but the following list is a bunch of websites we consider to be essential bookmarks for music artists, bands, band managers and indie labels alike. Whether you’re just releasing your first digital EP and want it selling on iTunes or if you want to build up your ‘musicbiz’ network and don’t know where to start, these sites will help to get you up and running.
Tunecore – I use Tunecore to distribute Buzzsonic Records tracks to iTunes worldwide and AmazonMP3.There’s a signup fee of around $25 and then an annual fee of about $20 for maintenance. Adds up to peanuts for a worthwhile service that takes no percentage from your downloads which means you see something like 70c out of every 99c download straight into your own pocket. They also duplicate and shrink wrap short run CDs too.
Snocap – Founded by ex-Napster wunderkid Shawn Fanning, Snocap was supposed to be the first major legal P2P service in its formative years but licensing problems with the majors put paid to that. A change of business plan means that now Snocap powers thousands of MySpace artist music stores, using their store widget that you can paste into your MySpace profile and anywhere else online. Artists see something like 60c from a 99c download, though you can set your own price.
CD Baby – CD Baby and its founder Derek Sivers have an impeccably solid reputation with artists and its up there with Tunecore as the ones to go to. CD Baby’s digital deal has them take 9% of your revenue, though they distribute to a much wider array of download stores than Tunecore. Those short run CDs you got done at Tunecore? CD Baby will sell them via their much vaunted CD distribution channel.
Indistr.com – Another promising looking outlet is Indistr.com. Artists keep 75% of download revenue and get paid the same day of the sale via Paypal.
Music Biz Resources
Music Business Resources For Students – UK based college lecturer Daz Smith’s comprehensive website is packed to the rafters with tips and links on networking, manufacturing, record companies, promotion and diy record labels. Useful for bands and DJ’s hoping to make their next move, students of popular music and music technology and anyone else wanting to get involved.
Luke Hits – LA based Luke Hits specializes in placing unsigned bands music onto TV shows and film soundtracks by circulating compilation CDs with his contacts that he painstakingly picks from the bags of submissions he gets. He promises to listen to everything he’s sent. There’s no upfront fees, just a slice of whatever deal he sets up.
Hit Quarters – Database of A and R guys, record companies, songwriters and publishers. Useful if you are a songwriter trying to place a song. $15 annual fee sounds like a deal for the information here.
Moses Avalon – Moses Avalon is the author of three crucial books, ‘Confessions of a Record Producer’, ‘Secrets of Negotiating a Record Contract’ and ‘Million Dollar Mistakes’ which are required reading for all industry wannabes (and never has beens). His website has a bunch of useful artist friendly articles and advice.
Bemuso.com – Another astonishing labor of love from UK based Rob Cumberland. A very detailed and exhaustive collection of articles and links for artists going the DiY route. The site covers self distribution, publishing, do it yourself record labels and how the music biz works from a UK perspective.
Rap Coalition Intelligence Program – Astonishing site packed to the rafters with information, case histories and every fine detail you need to strike out on your own. Starting your own label, business basics, worksheets, writing a music business plan, start up checklist and every angle in between.
Music Tank – A business development network for the UK music industry, owned and operated by the University of Westminster. Run a unique programme of think tanks, conferences and events.
BBC 1Xtra – Great resource from BBC Radio 1 with tips on demos, music industry how to’s, studio and DIY tips. Radio 1 is the most popular national radio station in the UK and the possibility of getting your music heard on national radio isn’t impossible. The Homegrown section of the site pick two unsigned artists/bands a week and play them on the air to a potential audience of millions.
Music Industry Forums
Velvet Rope – Legendarily frank and very busy music industry forums, populated by bands, labels, artists and wannabes. Littered with news of music industry happenings and rumors, unsigned bands and hype.
Harmony Central – Great musician’s community with discussion forums, industry news, guitar tabs and user reviews on music gear. Its the forums that make this site an essential visit though.
Just Plain Folks – Another very busy, long running and active forum community, this one squarely aimed at songwriters and musician networking. The forums boast over 40,000 members.
Planet Shark – If you want to creep your way into LA’s Hollywood film and music business community this is a great place to keep your eye on with news on parties, movers and shakers events, industry shindigs, casting calls and industry jobs. There’s an A&R 411 section on the site too that’s worth bookmarking. If you live in LA that is!
Songwriter 101 – Another educational website and forum for songwriters with everything about the business side of the songwriter’s profession with information, education and advice from music pros and teachers. Record of the Day – UK based subscription based music business news network but with a busy forum and UK music industry jobs board.
Recording.org – Professional recording studio forums bustling with over 30,000 members. HomeRecording.com – And at the other end of the scale a forum for home recording enthusiasts discussing gear, techniques and the music industry in general.
Indie Music Bible – David Wimble’s Indie Bible is now into its 9th year and the 330 page book is crammed with thousands of contacts and articles on how to get your music on radio, where to get reviewed, where to sell music, where to upload it and 500 resources just on promoting your band.
Sister publication the Indie Venue Bible is a comprehensive directory of live music venues. It is in electronic (PDF) format and lists 26,000 venues and 2000 booking agents in the US and Canada.
The UK published tome the Unsigned Guide is an excellent companion to the Indie Bible and boasts 11,000+ contacts and over 800 pages brimming with every music contact you could ever think of.
Everyone already has a page on MySpace, like it or not its the number one destination site for networking bands and artists. But before MySpace there was Garageband. Now owned by iLike. Garageband has a neat community review process which works by encouraging bands to review other tracks in return for free webspace. Eclipsed now in terms of popularity compared to Bebo and MySpace but a great tool for getting real critical feedback.
For news on the business side of the industry the BPI (UK) and the RIAA (USA) are good for keeping your eye on the industries ruling bodies. The IFPI covers the rest of the world and in the UK the MCPS/PRS cover copyright issues whilst the ASCAP do the same in the USA. The independent music organizational bodies are the Association of Independent Music (AIM) in the UK and American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) in the USA.
Blogs and News
Mashable and Techcrunch are the two essential destinations for keeping up with daily news on new music and web 2.0 apps and developments and the blogs I fire up first in my RSS reader daily are the newsy Coolfer and Hypebot and the acerbic and essential Lefsetz Letter, written by industry veteran, Bob Lefsetz and filled with no holds barred finger pointing, analysis and comment.