What is digital music distribution?

Music distribution is the process of distributing music to music stores or via the Internet via streaming platforms such as TIDAL, Deezer, Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and Amazon Music, as well as via social networks such as Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, as well as SoundCloud and Bandcamp platforms, which allow artists to create a website and upload their music themselves, without the participation of distributors. Music distribution also includes physical distribution, such as selling vinyl in record stores or services such as monetization services offered by YouTube. (I suggest graphics)

Digital distribution of music is facilitated by the services of other companies, such as CD Baby, AWAL, Ditto, DistroKid, Horus Music or Amuse, which are the link between creators and music platforms and help artists to make their works recognizable worldwide. The digital music distribution service offered by these companies helps guide artists through the entire music release process, which involves tracking streaming data or royalty payments. Music distributors collect all the licensing and streaming data and transfer the sound file and its metadata, such as the cover, the copyright of the work. the title of the work and the author(s) of the work, to streaming platforms. With online music distribution, an artist can upload a single song and upload it automatically to all selected digital music stores and online platforms.

Digital music distribution companies enable professionals who want to be independent and develop their careers to quickly make their music available on TikTok, Facebook or Instagram, and offer their support and automatic sharing of royalties, as well as helping to distribute music wherever the potential audience of the artist is. (I suggest graphics)

The most popular streaming platforms, which are leading the way on the Internet, include:

1. Tidal.

2. Spotify.

3. Amazon Music.

4. Deezer.

5. Apple Music.

6. Pandora.

7. TikTok.

8. Facebook.

9. Instagram.

10. Google Play.

11. YouTube.

Digital distribution, or online distribution or ESD, a method of direct delivery of content, is the distribution or delivery of digital multimedia content, such as electronic software, audio files, video games and e-books, over the Internet. Online content delivery, which has developed in the 21st century, bypasses physical distribution methods such as on paper, VHS cassettes or optical discs. This content can be downloaded or streamed on request. Specialised networks delivering content over the Internet, providing very good performance and availability, and alternative content delivery technologies, which include peer-to-peer file sharing technologies, consolidate, create and manage content at a distance.

The term “digital distribution” also refers to the distribution of films, and more specifically to the distribution of content by means of physical digital media, as opposed to distribution on analogue media, i.e. magnetic tapes or photographic films. The direct nature of online distribution of music allows artists to spread their work and gain popularity in a short time. The artist participates in the whole publishing chain, where the publisher helps to distribute, advertise, finance, send and distribute his works, which makes for commercial success. By distributing music online, professional musicians have the opportunity to make their work available to the public at low cost and thus to potential audiences with cheaper goods. Online distribution allows creators greater artistic freedom and profit-making, as well as the opportunity to explore new business models such as Open Music Model. Musicians do not have to release an entire album, they have the opportunity to release only one song and see if they will find their audience. The online distribution of music has significantly increased the sales and profits of artists, minimized costs and made it easier to reach a wide range of audiences around the world, who started to have easy access to selected tracks, no longer having to buy whole albums. Musicians gained greater creative freedom and the right to publish and sell their music themselves, as well as to license their music themselves without the pressure that was often associated with the obligation to fulfil their contract with the record company. Unlike traditional record labels, online music distributors do not hold the copyright associated with an artist’s works, but help promote the compositions and have the right to publish and license them.

Digital distribution of music starts with the artist who, after composing a piece of music, can establish a partnership with the online music distributor. Such a distributor will professionally promote the music, enabling it to reach fans in a simple, fast and cheap way. Thanks to royalties, artists make money by streaming, downloading or buying previously shared songs by the audience. (I suggest graphics)

How digital music distribution works?15 points describing how digital music distribution works

1. Thanks to streaming platforms, which have gained considerable popularity over the last decade, listeners have unlimited access to music, both to whole albums and to individual tracks.

2. Online music is usually distributed in MP3 and WAV format.

3. online music distribution allows fans to directly support their idols financially by downloading, transferring or buying music.

4. Independent musicians can use the distributors to upload their music to many popular applications, they do not have to do it themselves and are not required to have a record deal with music publishers.

Artists – after selecting the digital music distribution company that best suits their needs – can set up an account, upload compositions with metadata, select platforms and streaming stores and start distributing their music.

The metadata that artists must upload with their music is all the information contained in the audio files that are used to present, label and identify the audio content. The metadata should be carefully filled in by the musicians as they are required by all streaming platforms and used to locate the music in their databases and identify specific audiences. This data includes:

7. Usually, online music distributors give 100% of their sales revenue to musicians in exchange for annual and monthly fees.

8. Online music distribution enables independent artists to reach their target audience from around the world.

9. Digital music distribution allows artists to record professional music using a microphone, computer, laptop and interface.

10. All streaming platforms are increasingly popular because they provide listeners with free or low-cost access to music from around the world.

11. Distribution of music over the Internet is more environmentally friendly than physical distribution, which involved making optical discs of aluminum and polycarbonate material, among other things.

12. In 2015, online music sales exceeded physical sales.

13. In 2017, the number of paid subscribers of streaming platforms increased by 45.5% worldwide.

14. in 2018, digital music transmission accounted for 47% of all global revenues of the entire music industry.

15. Although the sale of records on physical media has been constantly decreasing for 20 years, it still accounts for approximately 30% of the total revenue from the sale of music recordings.

Thanks to digital music distribution services, independent music labels and artists from all over the world can share their work in shops and websites or on streaming music platforms.

Who distributes digital music?

Independent artists can choose from a wide range of digital music distribution companies, which rely heavily on online music sharing and streaming platforms. Unlike record companies, music distributors do not become owners of compositions, albums or individual tracks, but are intermediaries between musicians and online platforms that enable music distribution and reach potential audiences around the world. Such distributors are also responsible for paying royalties to musicians for downloading, transferring or buying songs by users and for administrative matters.

Musicians can use the services of one company of their choice that best suits their vision, capabilities and expectations, or test the services of different distributors to have a comparison and see which model works best for them. Theoretically, each artist can upload his or her own songs directly to the streaming platform, but most of these platforms prefer to work with professional digital music distributors rather than directly with creators to avoid the problems of transferring payouts or custom metadata that may not fit the requirements of the platform.

Music distributors act as guides to help independent artists distribute and upload their works worldwide through music platforms and online stores. (I suggest graphics)

What digital music distributors do?

1. Digital music distributors have a clear financial model that allows artists to choose whether they want to work with a company that requires them to pay monthly or annual fees, or one that will charge a percentage of their song sales revenue.

2. Distributing music through online distributors is much less complicated and costly than physical distribution, which required a contract with the musician before the records could be physically sent to stationary stores.

3. Digital music distribution companies provide the artists they work with, they collaborate withcare, consultation, analytical tools, promotions, and other services necessary for success and wise career guidance.

4. The choice of the right digital music distributor also depends on the level and popularity of the artist. If musicians want their music to turn into a DSP, or Digital Service Provider, they should find a distribution company that will professionally take care of their music career.

5. Online music distributors do not claim the rights to the music they distribute, and the artist does not have to be contractually bound or worried about losing the rights to his or her work.

6. Musicians have the right to work with multiple companies, but they can only use one distributor to release one song, there is no possibility to send the same song to different companies.

7. Each distributor of digital music has unique features that may be more or less important to a particular musician, so it is worthwhile to look closely at all companies.

8. Artists who want to start working with a given digital music distributor should:

9. Some digital music distributors charge musicians an annual fee based on the number of songs they release, while others charge a one-off fee for the music they upload at pre-set rates (for albums, singles and EPs).

10. Distributors also place a digital fingerprint (ISRC) on each music file, which allows the author to track the song, and is also used for licence fees and credits. One ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is needed for each song, while the universal code, UPC, which is a barcode on the back of a product that should even have digital products, makes it possible to buy a given music album. Distributors can pay out royalties to artists on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual basis.

11. Artists who want to earn money from publishing their works online and receive regular remuneration should subscribe to the Performing Rights Organization (PRO). Musicians can register in person or ask their distributors to do so, who will also take care of the registration with SoundScan (sales tracking system), SiriusXM or Pandora (they pay royalties for the results to the musicians), as well as SoundExchange, which allows royalties to be downloaded (50% for performers and 50% for the owner of the sound recording, unless the artist decides to keep the copyright, then he or she collects the royalties as performer and owner of the recording).

12. Digital music distributors charge musicians 20% to 30% commission for collecting royalties from SoundExchange.

13. Some digital music distributors automatically post their music on sites such as SoundCloud and YouTube to collect advertising revenue.

14. Independent musicians can take the time to do all the administrative tasks associated with releasing their music on their own, but if they want to work with professional distributors, they have to take into account that not all companies offer this type of service for free, some of them charge between 5% and 30% commission.

15. Many streaming platforms, such as iTunes, established in 2002, and Spotify, established in 2006, do not allow artists to upload their music directly; they can only do so through approved digital music distributors.

16. Most digital music distribution companies deliver music uploaded by musicians to the most popular streaming sites (some distributors take 24 hours to deliver their music files and others up to 4 weeks to deliver).

17. Napster, thanks to peer-to-peer technology, allowed subscribers to share audio files directly, allowing users to download music free of charge, and this led to copyright infringement.

18. In 2003, Apple created the iTunes Store, which allowed consumers to legally buy albums and individual songs online.

19. Today, listeners prefer to access music on streaming platforms rather than buying physical discs or downloading songs from iTunes, which has dramatically changed the way music is distributed by record companies, independent companies and musicians, but there are countries, such as Japan, where physical CD sales still dominate.

20. Universal, Warner and Sony are the 3 main music companies with which various distributors are associated. Many digital music distribution companies operate as wholly owned subsidiaries of larger corporations and represent large record companies. There are also companies that meet the needs of independent record companies and artists, but are still owned by major music companies such as Sony RED or ADA, which is owned by Warner.

Before submitting music files, every creator should be convinced that the songs will sound equally good in all playback systems and that they are on a high artistic and technical level. Musicians can benefit from the help of mastering engineers who will improve their work by using professional processing tools such as compressors, equalizers and sound limiters. Mastering engineers bring out the nuances of the sound, unify the sound of all songs and adapt them to existing standards using digital technology and analogue devices.

Digital music distributors will also take care of the PR strategy and promotion of the whole creation, so it is important that the independent artist regularly releases new songs, which increases the chances of adding songs to the playlist and building a fan base. Professional companies can distribute music to hundreds of online music stores, such as: Spotify, Google Play, iTunes, Deezer, Shazam, Beatport, Tidal, Apple Music, Pandora or Amazon, so that the artist has a chance to shine (in 2019 alone, it was noted that 40 thousand new songs appear daily through online music distributors).

The most popular distributors of digital music

With the development of digital technology, the emergence of streaming platforms and the move of the world of music to the Internet, a number of online music distribution companies have emerged, offering independent musicians comprehensive services ranging from administration, consultation, through mastering, to promotion and PR strategy. Artists no longer have to sign contracts with record companies to make their music popular and accessible to listeners around the world. Distributors automatically upload songs to hundreds of online music stores and streaming services and offer physical releases, marketing tools and statistics. (I suggest graphics)

Digital music distribution companies, which every artist should know, are:

1. Major distributors such as Sad, Caroline International, INgrooves, Alternative Distribution Alliance and Sony, Warner and Universal’s internal distribution departments.

2. Independent distribution partners such as: Idol, Stem, Absolutely, Ditto Plus, Redeye Worldwide, Believe Digital.

3. White label distribution services: Fugue, Sonosuite.

4. Open distribution platforms: Landr, Ditto, CD Baby, RouteNote, Level Music, Horus Music, Spinnup – subsidiary of Universal Music Group, DistroKid, TuneCore – subsidiary of Believe Digital, iMusicianDigital, United Masters, SoundDrop, OneRPM.

5. Semi-labelled distribution services: AWAL and Amuse.

Below is a list and characteristics of the most popular digital music distributors:

1. CD Baby (www.cdbaby.com) – this company was founded by Derek Sivers in 1998 in New York City and was one of the first to enable DIY musicians to release music on vinyl or CDs and physically deliver it to stores around the world, and now also distributes digital music to online stores and streaming services. Artists who want to start working with CD Baby have to pay $9.95 per single and $29 for the whole album plus 9% commission.

What else is worth knowing about CD Baby:

2. Landr (www.landr.com) – the company was founded in 2017 in Canada as an automated web mastering service using audio matting software (powered by AI), which also performs audio mastering for video. Landr also offers its users digital music distribution services. Musicians who decide to subscribe to a monthly or annual subscription have the right to retain 100% of their earnings and can distribute their music free of charge to all streaming platforms and place their music on Spotify playlists.

What else is worth knowing about Landr:

3. Horus Music (www.horusmusic.global) – the company, which was established in 2006 in the UK, in Leicester, has been appreciated by many artists and record companies from all over the world (it won the prestigious Queens Award for Enterprise of International Trade). Independent musicians can benefit for an annual fee of £10 from an unlimited package, which includes music distribution, marketing campaign, tools, consultation, statistics, chart recording and representation at the Midem International Music Fair, which has been held annually in January/February, since 1967, in France, in Cannes.

What else is worth knowing about Horus Music:

4.Distrokid (www.distrokid.com) – the company was established in 2013 in New York City as an independent distributor of digital music. Its services are much faster and the platform is easier to use than other distributors.

What else should you know about Distrokid:

5.AWAL (www.awal.com) – Artists Without A Label was founded in 2017 in the UK, London, and distributes digital music, licensing, marketing and data analysis. AWAL is an online alternative to the traditional music label Kobalt.

What else should you know about AWAL:

6. Fresh Tunes (www.freshtunes.com) – the company was founded by MikołajOkorokow in 2016. Its headquarter is located in Dubai, and its operations center is in Moscow. During the first 6 months of its operation it started to serve about 84 countries, and now FreshTune also has its offices in Brazil and Great Britain. The company primarily distributes music to streaming platforms and online music stores.

What else is worth knowing about Fresh Tunes:

7. Ditto Music (www.dittomusic.com) – the company was established in 2005 in the UK, in Liverpool, its founders are Lee Parsons and Matt Parsons. As distributors of digital music they have as many as 22 offices in 19 countries and cooperate with such stars as Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, You Me At Six and Royal Blood.

What else is worth knowing about Ditto Music:

8.Spinnup (www.spinnup.com) – the company was founded and launched in Sweden in 2013 by Universal Music. They operate in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Norway, the UK and France, but distribute music to streaming platforms and music stores around the world.

What else you should know about Spinnup:

9.TuneCore (www.tunecore.com) – the company was established in 2005 in the United States, in New York; its founders are Peter Wells and Jeff Price and their parent organization is Believe Distribution Services. They distribute music to streaming platforms and online music stores.

What else is worth knowing about TuneCore:

10. iMusician Digital (www.imusiciandigital.com) – the company was established in 2007, has offices in Switzerland (Zurich), Germany (Berlin) and Australia (Melbourne) and is co-founded by Tobias Wirz and ShigsAmemiya. They distribute music to streaming platforms and online music stores.

What else should you know about iMusician:

11.Octiive (www.octiive.com,  previously Mondo Tunes) – the company was founded in 2018 in the UK by Mershad Javan. It distributes music to streaming platforms and online music stores.

What else is worth knowing about Octiive:

12.Songtradr (www.songtradr.com) – the company was founded in 2014 in Santa Monica (California, USA), its founder is Paul Wiltshire and a subsidiary of Big Syc Music Ltd. It distributes music to streaming platforms and online music stores and licenses.

What else is worth knowing about Songtradr:

13.ReverbNation (www.reverbnstion.com) – the company was founded in 2006 in the United States, co-founded by Michael Doernberg. It distributes music to streaming platforms and online music stores.

What else is worth knowing about ReverbNation:

14.Record Union (www.recordunion.com) – a company established in 2008 in Sweden, Stockholm, distributes digital music to streaming platforms and online music stores.

What else is worth knowing about Record Union:

15. Musicinfo (www.musicinfo.com) – a company co-founded by Kari Halttunen focuses only on the distribution of music in China to such Chinese music services as Kugou Music, Qianqian Music and QQ Music.

What else is worth knowing about Musicinfo:

16.Stem (www.stem.is) – the company was established in 2015 in Los Angeles, USA and was founded by MilanaRabkin Lewis. They distribute music to streaming platforms and online music stores.

What else should you know about Stem:

17.RouteNote (www.routenote.com) – the company was established in 2007, is based in London, UK, and was founded by Steven Finch. They distribute music to streaming platforms and online music stores.

What else is worth knowing about Routenote:

18.The Orchard (www.theorchard.com) – the company was founded in 1997 in New York, USA by Richard Gottehrer and Scott Cohen. They distribute music to streaming platforms and online music stores.

What else is worth knowing about The Orchard:

19.Amuse (www.amuse.io) – the company, which was founded in 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden, distributes music to all streaming services and online music stores and works with Will.i.am. Its founders are Diego Farias, Andreas Ahlenius, Christian Wilsson, Jimmy Brodd and Guy Parry. As the only online digital music distributor it has a phone app that allows independent musicians to upload their songs, graphics and important album information quickly and easily.

What else should you know about Amuse:

20.Soundrop (www.soundrop.com, until 2016 Loudr) – the company was founded in 2014 in New York, USA, co-founded by Inge Sandvik and the parent organization CD Baby. They license and distribute music to streaming platforms and online music stores.

What else should you know about Soundrop:

21. ONErpm (www.onerpm.com, ONE Revolution People’s Music) – the company was established in 2010 in New York, USA (it also has offices in Nashville, São Paulo and 6 other cities around the world) and its founders are Emmanuel Zunz and Matthew Olim. They distribute music to streaming platforms and online music stores.

What else is worth knowing about ONErpm:

22.Symphonic (www.symphonicdistribution.com) – the company was founded in 2006 in Tampa, USA and was founded by Jorge Brea. It distributes music to streaming platforms and online music stores.

What else is worth knowing about Symphonic:

23.EmuBands (www.emubands.com) – the company was established in 2005 in Glasgow, UK, and co-founded by Ally Gray. They distribute digital music to streaming platforms and online music stores.

What else should you know about EmuBands:

Digital music distributors, through their cooperation with hundreds of online music stores and streaming platforms, give independent musicians the chance to win many listeners and the opportunity to sell their music all over the world without having to enter into binding agreements with record companies.

What are streaming platforms?

The rapid development of technology has led to the music business moving to the Internet, and services and streaming platforms are constantly evolving, introducing new services, features and innovations to meet the needs and requirements of independent artists. Streaming is not only about sharing music on streaming services, but also about promotion, mastering and many other services and features available to musicians to help them reach as many fans as possible around the world. Any digital music distributor should make sure to place their subscribers’ music on a sufficient number of popular streaming platforms, as these platforms prefer to work with professional distribution companies rather than directly with musicians. (I suggest graphics)

The most popular streaming platforms and online music stores

1. iTunes – is a program for playing audio and video files, which was produced by Apple in 2001.

2. Spotify – is a streaming platform, which was founded in 2006 in Stockholm, Sweden by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon. The company initiated the concept of interactive streaming, the consumer decides to listen for free or pay a subscription fee. Subscribing to the free level means accessing any music on the Spotify platform, but from time to time ads are displayed, while in the paid subscription model users have access to the entire Spotify library without ads.

Spotify pays the musicians about USD 0.00397 for displaying a song (they have about 87 million subscribers and about 191 million active users per month).

3. Napster – is an application that is used to search, download and buy MP3 files. It was invented in 1999 by Shawn Finning and Sean Parker.

Napster pays musicians about 0.019 USD for displaying a song (they have about 5 million users).

4. Apple Music – is a music streaming service, which was created in 2015 and its author is Apple Inc.

Apple Music pays about $0.00783 USD to the musicians for displaying the song.

5. TIDAL – streaming service, which was founded in 2016 by Swedish-Norwegian group Aspiro.

TIDAL pays the musicians about 0.01284 USD for displaying the song.

6. Deezer – music streaming service, which was founded in 2007 in France, the founder is Daniel Marhely, and the owner of Blogmusik SAS.

Deezer pays the musicians about 0.00624 USD for displaying the song (they have about 16 million users).

7. Pandora – is a streaming platform, which was created in the United States, at the beginning it was a non-interactive Internet radio station with specially prepared playlists performed using algorithms.

Pandora, in the Premium package, pays the musicians about 0.00133 USD for displaying a song (they have about 81 users and 6.8 million paid subscribers).

8. Amazon Music – is an online music store and streaming platform. Amazon Music was established in 2007 in the United States and is owned by Amazon.com.

Amazon Music pays about $0.00402 to the musicians for displaying a song.

9.Google Play Music – this is a streaming platform, which was originally known as Music Beta in the United States in 2011.

Google Play Music pays musicians about $0.00676 USD to view the song.

10. YouTube – is a free website created in 2005 in San Mateo (California, USA), which allows to post videos. The founders are Jawed Karim, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen.

YouTube pays its subscribers about $0.00074 to view the video.

11.TikTok – is a mobile web application created in 2016 by the Chinese company ByteDance, which enables posting short films and music videos.

12.Bandcamp – is a streaming platform and online music store created in the United States in 2008. The co-founder of Bandcamp is Ethan Diamond.

13.SoundCloud – an online music portal for posting your own songs, which was founded by Forss in 2007 in Stockholm, Sweden.

14.SoundClick – is a music service established in the United States in 1997 by the twin brothers TanjuCanli and TolgarCanli.

15. Vevo – an internet service, which was created in New York, USA in 2009. It is owned by Universal Music Group, Sony Music Enterainment, Abu Dhabi Media Company and Google. At the beginning he published only videos from EMI, Universal Music Group and Sony Music, but after some time he also started working with independent music labels.

16.Shazam – an application used to identify a given song, performer and title on the basis of sound, which was created in the UK.

17. Beatport – it is an online music store created in 2004 in Denver (Colorado, USA). Its founder is Jonas Tempel and the parent organization LiveStyle.

18. JunoDownload – it is an online music store.

19. Chartbreaker – it is an online music service.

20. Facebook – created in 2004 in the United States (Cambridge, Massachusetts), an online social networking site that also allows you to share your music. The founders of Facebook are Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Hughes, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin and Andrew McCollum.

Facebook, which also owns the Instagram platform, has introduced a feature that captures copyrighted music content appearing in user posts and then pays a license fee to the copyright holders.

21. Instagram – a photographic website created in 2010, which also allows you to share your own music. It is owned by Facebook and created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.

22.Twitter – a social networking site created in 2006 and founded by Jack Dorsey, Ev Williams and Biz Stone.

Over the past 10 years, online platforms that offer streaming have become very popular with both independent musicians and listeners because they offer affordable, fast and unlimited access to music, singles and albums, from all over the world, and enable artists to gain popularity by reaching millions of potential fans with their work.

Physical distribution of music vs. digital distribution of music

The physical distribution of music consists in the physical sale of records to music shops, i.e. distributors act as intermediaries between artists and record companies and music shops. Music distribution companies sign contracts with artists or record companies that give them the right to sell their music. Similarly, there are digital music distribution companies which, as technology develops, have started to conquer the music market, but the whole process takes place online and instead of selling albums to a physical store, they distribute music in digital format by sending it to streaming services and online music stores. Distributors must ensure that royalties for music downloaded by users of streaming platforms are returned to songwriters. (I suggest graphics)

In the age of the ubiquitous Internet, many independent musicians prefer to use the services of digital music distributors rather than record companies to promote and distribute their work. In 2017 alone, revenues from digital music accounted for more than half the revenues of the entire music business, and the number of paid subscribers to streaming services increased by almost 50% worldwide.

Music artists and distributors no longer have to sign contracts with record companies that have the infrastructure and the appropriate distribution resources to market music records and then promote and encourage consumers to buy them. Artists are also no longer restricted to selling their music physically, e.g. on CDs, to stationary music shops. Today, independent musicians can work with professional companies that distribute digital music to hundreds of platforms and websites and offer artists many tools and services such as mastering, marketing or access to analysis and statistics and, most importantly, distribute music worldwide.

Since the Internet revolution in the 1990s, digital technology has allowed content to flow between computers without a physical medium. And although large record companies still have an extensive network of distribution resources, it is much easier for independent musicians or music bands to gain popularity and fans by sharing their music online. Until 2001, the music industry was based on physical distribution, and today digital media has dominated and revolutionised the entire music industry.

Record companies vs. Internet platforms

In addition to leading record labels such as Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, EMI Group (a business group entirely bought by the Vivendi SA conglomerate in 2006), many streaming platforms and digital music distribution companies have been established over the last 20 years, such as:

As long as there is a music industry, there are also distributors who are involved in the distribution of music. Initially, their role was limited to printing scores and collecting music sheets from the companies that released them and then delivering them to the shops, but over the years the role of distributors has evolved with the development of technology, from the physical delivery of vinyl and CDs to stationary shops, to the distribution of digital music to streaming services and online music shops, to mastering engineers and administrators dealing with licensing, royalties and marketing.

FAQ

1. What is the distribution of music?

Music distribution is the process of making music available to the public on all digital and physical media. Music is distributed to stationary stores or online music platforms.

2. What is digital music distribution?

Distribution of digital music is the process of distributing works that are in digital format, e.g. MP3 or WAV, to streaming services and online music stores by distributors,

3. What do digital music distributors do?

Digital music distribution companies send songs of artists that are in digital format, e.g. MP3 or WAV, to streaming services and online music stores, and then deal with royalties, copyrights, promotion, mastering and licensing.

4. What is mastering and what do mastering engineers do?

Mastering is the final process of making music production, during which mastering engineers, having previously processed the sound into digital or analogue, bring out all the nuances and try to standardize and adapt the sound of all songs using processing tools such as compressors, equalizers and sound limiters. Most digital music distribution companies offer a mastering service to their subscribers.

5. Do I need to work with a digital music distributor?

Currently almost all streaming platforms prefer to work with companies that professionally distribute digital music rather than directly with the musicians themselves, so independent musicians should work with digital music distributors.

6. What is a Record Label?

A Record Label is a music publishing house, i.e. an organization of the music industry that deals with the recording, production, promotion and distribution of audio and video recordings and the publication of books about music and notes.

7. What are pop-up stores?

Pop-up shops are places for short-term sales, e.g. at music festivals or fairs, where independent musicians can increase the physical sales of their albums, gain publicity, win fans and promote their work.

8 What are metadata?

Metadata is all information embedded in audio files such as song title, covers, album title, label, genre, copyright holders, song numbers and songwriters that is required and used in all streaming services and platforms. Carefully described and filled metadata allows potential audiences to add to their music more quickly and easily, leading to increased streaming and revenue.

9. What is a DSP?

DSP, or Digital Service Provider, is a streaming platform for transmitting, distributing, playing and buying digital music.

10. What is peer-to-peer file sharing?

Peer-to-peer, or person-to-person (P2P), is a computer network communication model that provides all hosts with the same privileges, unlike the client-server model. Content delivery platforms create and consolidate content at a distance, acting as hosted content management systems.

11. What are codes: UPC, EAN, ISRC?

ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is an International Standard Recording Code, which is a digital fingerprint that allows you to track a song. For each song you need 1 ISRC code, which the musician can apply for on his or her own through a website or through a digital music distributor, these codes are used for credits and royalties. UPC (Universal Product Code) and EAN (European Article Number) codes are universal barcodes on the back of the product used to track sales, such codes also have digital products, they allow the sale of albums and most digital music distributors include them free of charge.

12. What does a songwriter do?

A songwriter is a person who composes music and writes lyrics, who, depending on the way he uses his work, receives synchronous, mechanical or performance royalties.

13. What does a publisher do?

A publisher is the person or company responsible for ensuring that the copyright holders receive payment for the use of their music. It is also responsible for issuing and monitoring licences for the use of music and collecting licence fees (publishing royalties are shared between songwriters and publishers).

14. What is a PRO organisation?

The PRO Organization, or Performing Rights Organization, collects royalties for public performance of music and passes them on to the authors or publishers, as well as monitors the performance and public playback of recorded songs. Other organizations that deal with copyright and royalty collection in the United States are: BMI, SESAC, ASCAP.

15. Which licenses can I use to download songs online for free?

The licenses that allow us to download songs online for free are:

16. Where can I legally download music for content creation?

You can legally download music for content creation from online music banks such as the Internet: Free Music Archive, Magnatune, CC Mixter, Bensound, Incompetech, AudioBlocks, Freeplay Music, BeatPick, YouTube Audio Library, Jamendo Music.

17. What are the royalties for music?

There are 4 types of royalties in the music industry:

18. What is the ICON Collective?

The ICON Collective is a music production school in Los Angeles, USA (classes also take place online) that teaches technical skills.

19. What is One Sheet?

One Sheet is a document that provides an overview of the pages given to record labels and music distribution companies that represent an artist or a band before an album is released. The document must contain such information as:

20. What is SoundScan?

SoundScan is an online song tracking system for artists to register, either directly or through digital music distributors who want to make money from their music online.

21. What does UMG stand for?

UMG is a record label of Universal Music Group, formerly MCA, or Music Entertainment Group, founded in 1934 in the United States of America, and is one of four major record companies: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, EMI Group.

22. What is the Fast Forward function?

The Fast Forward function, offered by Amuse, a digital music distributor, is to predict how well songs will sell based on their current position.

23. What is a CMT account for?

CMT, or Custom Music Tools, is an advanced software for musicians that provides access to license fee tracking and unlimited release labels (for 20% of revenue).

24. What is Royalties Allocation?

Royalties Allocation, which is a distribution of royalties belonging to the copyright owner.

25. Who are the sub-distributors?

Subdistributors are intermediaries between retailers and large distributors. Sub-distributors are for example:

26. What is the royalty payment model?

A royalty is a payment that is made, for example, by the licensee to the copyright owner of the content. This payment, the terms of which are set out in the license agreement, enables continuous use of the content. Royalties are usually agreed as a percentage of revenue derived from the use of the original recordings or as a fixed price for the work.

27. Which companies distribute digital music to Asia?

There are several distributors who focus on the Asian market, allowing independent musicians to sell songs in India, in stores such as Saavn, Gaana and Wink. Some large companies are also streaming in China, such as QQ Music by Tencent, Qianqian Music (Baidu Music), Kugou Music and Kuwo Music, for example:

28. In what format is digital music most commonly distributed?

Digital music is most commonly distributed in MP3 and WAV format.

29. What are the exclusive copyrights?

Copyright grants 6 exclusive rights to control the use and distribution of copyrighted works for which the owners of the rights have exclusive rights:

30. What is the royalty distribution for music?

Royalties for music are divided between:

31. What is the distribution of copyright and licensing?

Every song hasmaster rights and compositional rights. Copyright on musical compositions includes music and any lyrics that relate to the reproduction and distribution of the original recording.The difference between a licence and royalties is that the main licence gives the music user permission to use the intellectual property belonging to someone else, and royalties are payments generated by the use of that intellectual property. Musicians grant the publishing company exclusive rights to use their recordings in exchange for royalties, and music publishers may release the recording or issue rights to a record company or mechanical rights agency. Musicians may also transfer the copyright in the sound recordings to the record company, allowing the record company to distribute, license and reproduce the recording in exchange for royalties. All parties involved in the production receive a certain percentage of royalties, and the amounts of royalties are often negotiated in advance and then determined in a legally binding agreement.