Million Media

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Artists! How To Get Yourself A Music Distribution Plan!!!

Every artist should have a Music Distribution Plan.

Sounds dry?

Sorry, I couldn’t think of anything snappier. So, what is an, ahem, ‘M.D.P.’?

There are an increasing number of ways to get your music in to the hands of your fans, but right now, there is no single solution. But, Million have identified three important ways:

  1. Via a distributor, such as The Orchard
  2. Via a direct deal between the artist and the retailer, for instance, TuneTribe or DJ Download
  3. Direct to fans, via a site such as Mubito, Magnet or Indiestore

There are several distributors who have deals with most of the major mobile operators and digital retailers. The Orchard is a major client of Million, and I sincerely think they’re the best at what they do. But to ensure the integrity of this blog, I’ll mention the others, such as IODA, Tunecore, AWAL, Zebralution, Vital, Pinnacle and Vidzone. Others, such as Pocket Group and IndieMobile specialise in distribution only to mobile operators. However, this is far from being a mature market and so none of them have distribution to every store. Therefore, think of these as your main high street stores.

Every country, genre and market will have a number of ‘niche’ sites serving a small target market. These will be desirable for you to supply, but you may find your distributor has yet to finalise a deal. In these cases you’ll need to go direct. Often these stores will have an online sign up process allowing you to apply to become a supplier, and then either upload your tracks or send a CD. Included in this category are new retail outlets such as AmieStreet and The Sixty One.

Bare in mind that in both 1. DISTRIBUTOR and 2. DIRECT you will most likely only take a share of the revenue and will not receive any customer information, such as email addresses.

The is the most attractive option, from both a financial perspective and collecting fan information. For certain bands, e.g. Radiohead, it can be highly lucrative. However, for the majority it is simply a way of building a relationship with your most loyal fans, and being able to ‘super-serve’ them with features such as higher quality bit rates, bundles, cheaper prices and special offers. Services such as IndieStore, Kazzong or Mubito are easy to set up and allow the artist to sell via their website, blog or social profile, such as MySpace.

In my experience almost all retail solutions fall in to one of these categories. Whilst all of them claim to be the only solution an artist needs, the truth is an artist or label should have a Music Distribution Plan that encompasses all three. With careful planning and assessment of the options partners can be found in each category who far from overlapping, can actually complement each other since music fans are rarely signed up to more than one or two retailers.


About Neil

Neil Cartwright founded Million Media in 2006 with the aim to help people understand digital marketing and use it to their advantage. The vision hasn't changed but the technology has.

3 comments on “Artists! How To Get Yourself A Music Distribution Plan!!!

  1. Peter Wells
    January 28, 2008

    Thanks for the kind words. We founded TuneCore precisely because digital distribution has so many wrinkles, it’s easy for folks to get lost. While your readers are researching various distributors, let me urge them to consider these factors:

    –Is the distributor taking any of your rights? They shouldn’t, that’s your music and you should keep control over it.

    –Does the distributor demand a percentage? They’d truly need to do something for you, something worth potentially a ton of money, if they are to be entitled to a percentage.

    –If the distributor promises marketing, is it a real promise? They can’t market everyone, will they really push you, effectively? Even if they do, that wouldn’t deserve a percentage, forever, and without cap?

    –Is the distributor requiring exclusivity or a minimum term? Again, why?

    –How do they report your sales activity and get you the money? Make sure they do it cleanly, clearly, regularly and without any hidden charges or costs.

    Thanks. If you or your readers have any questions, I’m always eager to talk about the industry. Just write me.


  2. Lee
    December 20, 2008

    Its great that you mentioned Tunetribe, they front one of our digital service models.
    You always need to be marketing yourself, but the most important thing is doing the correct marketting.
    Making the most out of pre release periods, generating sales via SMS.
    We have so far had 7 UK top 40 singles, ALL with unsigned artists and all it took was a little guidance from ourselves.
    If you would like any advice on how to make the most out of your release then feel free to drop me an email, we have done over 1000 releases so far, so its safe to say we know what we are doing 🙂


  3. Lee
    January 5, 2009

    To be honest Peter, i think digital distribution goes deeper than putting artists on a handfull of sites with no guarantee of when it is going to get there.
    WE have 7 UK top 40 singles with our artists, we had the first EVER unsigned artist in the UK top 40.

    We cover 700 sites, we make the artists chart eligible, we help them with marketing, we have our own TV show, we have had loads of featured artists on iTunes and not just the profile ones that you guys have had.

    Ringtones, SMS downloading, Straight to mobile, all of these are just as important as amazon and iTunes which we also cover.

    Unsigned artists are all different and need as much choice as possible, which is why we set up our company.


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This entry was posted on January 19, 2008 by in artists, marketing, music, retail.
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