Put simply, (because it really is that simple), digital music distribution is the distribution of audio files in a digital format (mp3, aac, wav and more) to online music stores and digital streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon.
Physical music distribution is the distribution of physical music such as CDs or Vinyls to the likes of record stores and alike. Both digital and physical music distribution should play a big part in your music promotion and marketing efforts as a musician (or promoter).
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So, what does a digital music distributor do?
There are 2 main things a music distributor does:
1. Gets your music into music outlets
2. Collects sales or streaming data and your money from sales.
What is a ‘media outlet or ‘digital store’?
A media outlet, digital store or what we tend to call it on a Friday afternoon, a ‘thing-a-majig’, is a platform where your music is sold, aired or streamed online. Some examples: iTunes, Amazon, Google Play or streaming platforms like Spotify, Deezer or Apple Music.
Here’s a list of online music stores we distribute to.
Here’s a break down of the steps:
Step 1. Without going into the specifics, it usually works like this:
- You create an account and upload your new music in Album, EP or Single structure
- Add the relevant audio files and album artwork
- Enter specific details about you/your band, your release, splits etc.
- Choose the package or options – price, stores, release date etc.
- Pay – either a single upfront fee, yearly and/or a % of royalties (money you make)
That’s step 1 in a nutshell for what’s needed from you. From then the distributor verifies the media and data if they haven’t already, checks it off and sends it out to the selected, if not all, media outlets. This might be 1, 10 or hundreds in multiple territories around the world.
Step 2: There is a lot of ‘clever stuff’ that goes on behind the scenes, like processing millions of lines of sales and streaming data, so instead of boring you with the specifics, here’s a brief rundown.
The distributor gathers all the sales and streaming data in a given period, that’s each and every sale or stream, for each track, from your music as well as every other artist’s music, from each of the digital stores and streaming sites and territories, and then processes it all.
The outcome? You guys will know it as a ‘Royalty Statement’ or ‘Sales Statement’ which gives each individual a downloadable statement of that periods music activity. Some digital distributors like us, will also provide analytical graphs and charts to view, study, plan or do as you please.
And finally, the royalties are paid to the artist, songwriter and publisher but this is an article in itself, so we won’t go too in-depth here!
Hopefully this helps you on your journey to making sense of the (over?) complexity that is the Music Industry.
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