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What does a music distributor do?

Written by Jon Lemmon (Managing Partner: 8DPromo / GM: Xelon Digital)

 

Whether you’re getting into the music business as a producer or label, understanding who does what is a key part of the homework. Whilst selling direct to your fans is much easier today than ever with Bandcamp and the like, getting into the bigger retail environments is an incredible maze of detail - something a music distributor has in hand.

 

What does a digital music distributor do?

At it’s core, a distributor gets your music out to all of the places people can buy or stream music. Regular services of a distributor include the accounting side of this as well as working with the shops / streaming services to pitch your music for possible features. Depending on the distributor, there may also be services available for publishing, licensing, promotion, mastering etc.

 

What is a distribution deal in music?

A distribution deal is simply a deal between the artist or label and the distributor, where the distributor typically makes a % of the store revenue, or charges a fee to manage deliveries, accounting, etc.

 

What does a music retailer do?

A music retailer can be a traditional DSP (Download Service Provider) that provides paid downloads, or a streaming service. The retailers provide music for consumers to stream or download for a fee, or free in some models. It sells subscriptions for streaming, or a la carte downloads for a fee.

 

What is the best music distributor?

The best distributor is the one that fits your needs as an artist or label. Every distributor offers a slightly different model, so it’s important to find the one the seems inline with your vision and needs. Xelon Digital, for example (the one I work for) is one that’s very heavy on the service side. Meaning we’re not a “self service” type of distribution company that you just upload your content to and then you are done. Every label or artist has a label manager as well as other contacts within the company they can reach out to. It’s great if that’s something you are looking for. Some labels simply need a place to login, upload content, and download statements, with not much need for interaction.

 

What’s the difference between a record deal and a distribution deal?

A record deal is between an artist and a record label, where the artist signs certain or all rights to their music over to the label to use as it sees fit. It is typically a little longer term, and the artist signs over the rights to the label. The label releases, promotes, licenses and basically seeks opportunity for the music they sign over. A distribution deal is typically shorter term than the average record deal, and is usually between the label and the distributor, unless the artist is releasing her/his own music and handling the distribution as well. In a distribution deal, rights are typically not signed over, and it’s only a deal to distribute that music to all of the digital stores. Distributors do often have add on services where more rights may be signed over based on opportunity.

 

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image of a podcast sleeve on a smart phone screen

What does a music distributor do?

Written by Jon Lemmon (Managing Partner: 8DPromo / GM: Xelon Digital)

 

Whether you’re getting into the music business as a producer or label, understanding who does what is a key part of the homework. Whilst selling direct to your fans is much easier today than ever with Bandcamp and the like, getting into the bigger retail environments is an incredible maze of detail - something a music distributor has in hand.

 

What does a digital music distributor do?

At it’s core, a distributor gets your music out to all of the places people can buy or stream music. Regular services of a distributor include the accounting side of this as well as working with the shops / streaming services to pitch your music for possible features. Depending on the distributor, there may also be services available for publishing, licensing, promotion, mastering etc.

 

What is a distribution deal in music?

A distribution deal is simply a deal between the artist or label and the distributor, where the distributor typically makes a % of the store revenue, or charges a fee to manage deliveries, accounting, etc.

 

What does a music retailer do?

A music retailer can be a traditional DSP (Download Service Provider) that provides paid downloads, or a streaming service. The retailers provide music for consumers to stream or download for a fee, or free in some models. It sells subscriptions for streaming, or a la carte downloads for a fee.

 

What is the best music distributor?

The best distributor is the one that fits your needs as an artist or label. Every distributor offers a slightly different model, so it’s important to find the one the seems inline with your vision and needs. Xelon Digital, for example (the one I work for) is one that’s very heavy on the service side. Meaning we’re not a “self service” type of distribution company that you just upload your content to and then you are done. Every label or artist has a label manager as well as other contacts within the company they can reach out to. It’s great if that’s something you are looking for. Some labels simply need a place to login, upload content, and download statements, with not much need for interaction.

 

What’s the difference between a record deal and a distribution deal?

A record deal is between an artist and a record label, where the artist signs certain or all rights to their music over to the label to use as it sees fit. It is typically a little longer term, and the artist signs over the rights to the label. The label releases, promotes, licenses and basically seeks opportunity for the music they sign over. A distribution deal is typically shorter term than the average record deal, and is usually between the label and the distributor, unless the artist is releasing her/his own music and handling the distribution as well. In a distribution deal, rights are typically not signed over, and it’s only a deal to distribute that music to all of the digital stores. Distributors do often have add on services where more rights may be signed over based on opportunity.

 

image of a podcast sleeve on a smart phone screen
image of a podcast sleeve on a smart phone screen