When it comes to getting a music distributors deal, it is actually very similar to what has been talked to before to record labels. In fact, it is so similar many wonders what the differences are. So that would be a great way to start this article.
What Is Music Distribution
While you know labels help you perfect and create your music, distributors are part of the process. And they do just that, distribute. They control systems, contracts, and payments that help music become available to any platform. They tend to work via record labels, but it has also recently become possible to work independently with them as well. It is vital to have a distributor because with them you will have something called a “DSP” or a Digital Service Provider.
What Type Of Music Distributors Are There
While there may be many distributors, it is important to find the perfect one for you. Here are the two types available that you can look into and see what works best.
- Clearinghouse Distributors:
These distributors tend to work with anyone. They are the middleman between your label and your music being sold physically on any shelf. Because they deal with just about anyone, it can easily mean that you can gain connections as well as experience. With a distributor like this, you can begin to understand the process as well as start somewhere.
The downside to these distributors is that because they manage so many you may be overshadowed, especially as an indie or beginner artist. You will have to personally promote your music and hope that consumers purchase your album. You may gain a lot of extra work with distributors like this, and it may become difficult to manage.
But on the bright side, once you have made sales you can move distributors.
- Selective Distributors
Selective distributors are recommended for many indie artists. These distributors work with you one on one, and they help manage many things that you would have managed had you chosen a clearinghouse distributor. They handle promotions, album releases, and hope to increase sales. And even an M&D deal may be possible, where a distributor can help pay the album process.
But there are downsides. If you sign to a small label but have well-known distributor chances are you will not be a priority. The bigger and popular the label the more attention the selective distributor will give. They will expect a plan and goal to be met as well, if you are indecisive about anything you will have less of a chance to gain much from your distributor.
As there are two types, a clearinghouse is if you want certain sales and selective if you want to learn and play risks.
Now that you know what kinds of distributors there are here are the steps to get the perfect one for you.
Getting a distributor is similar to getting a label. Research and find the one that is right for you. As you’ve read there are two types, then find the one that matches your needs and figure out what the qualifications are. Do not be afraid to email or call and ask, start proving yourself worthy and make yourself known. Make sure they know they need to expect your pitch and find out if they are open to giving you a shot.
- The Pitch
This is a constant term that you will be using over and over again when you are first starting out. But there are major differences, especially when it comes to the pitch for a label and a pitch for a distributor. You need to make the perfect pitch or promo package. These can include many things like:
- Any type of press. If some type of press promoted the album or tour show it off. They need to know you have made a name for yourself as an artist.
- Use PR. If you used a type of promotion via PR show it off too. Whether it was local radio or news site show that off too.
- Future plans. There is a chance that at this point you are with a label, if you have a business plan of success with them let them know. Distributors want to know if you are worth the time and you will put in the time, so show off that you have and will be working hard.
- Music. It is at this point you have created a full something. Song, album, mixtape, etc… distributors want the whole thing not just the work in progress. Have the song as ready as possible and perfect as it needs to be for pitch submission.
You will always have a better chance of anything if you have a great promotion. Promotions will be a part of your pitch, so it’s better to have great promotion so you can be ready. If you are an indie self-starting musician it can be difficult to promote yourself. You can hire a PR representative or find useful ways to promote yourself and get the recognition you deserve.
- Ask Questions
Once you find a distributor or they reach out to you, begin to ask questions. While it is simple to understand what music distributors, it is important to know the back end of everything and see if it works with your image. This way you can talk about specifics and expand on details you want to understand. Some questions to ask are:
- Pay? How often, when, and how will you get paid? And also ask how much the distributor will be getting? Is it negotiable?
- Who is handling what? The promotion? Manufacturing?
- Can you re-stock? What is the retail price? Will it be a discounted price later on?
While it is a dream come true to have a distributor come and discuss with you, it is important to know what you will be signing on to. If you have doubts ask a professional to look it over and explain what the contract will be.
- Digital Distribution
In an era of the online world, it makes sense to have music online. While most of this article is CD and Records specific, it is important to mention the importance of digital music distributors. While digital distribution has similarities with a contract distributor, there are also many differences.
Digital companies have various different forms of royalties and pay processes. While some may pay you on the spot as soon as the music was purchased, others hold onto the royalty till a certain limit is met. Many also hold a fee in which they keep a certain percentage of what you earn, sort of a payment they get for them helping you.
On the bright side, they also handle all of the paperwork. The business side as well as marketing, and creation are all discussed with you to help you. Also, there are many of these digital distributors to choose from. It all depends on what fits your needs and wants.
While there are many options out there, distributors are useful for one main thing. Distribution of your music. Whether you want in online, in a retail store, or just available to stream on popular platforms distribution is necessary to allow these things to happen. You just need to find the right music distributor and distributor deal for you.