The Evolution Of Music Distribution

Mr.Universe Mr.Universe · 4 months ago · 11911 views
From Physical Media to Digital Streaming: A Look at How Music is Shared Today
The Evolution Of Music Distribution

Music Distribution is making songs available to stream or download on sites like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music and social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. Other examples are physical distribution, like trying to sell your vinyl at record stores, and other ways to make money, like using YouTube.

Music distribution services offered by third parties make it easier for musicians to share their songs with people worldwide. Through agreements and fees, distributors make it possible for record stores, websites that let you download music, and streaming services to purchase and sell an artist's music.

Think of them as the middleman between the artist and services like Spotify. Most of the time, distribution companies make deals with record labels that give them the right to sell the label's products. Each item sold brings in money for the distributor, who then sends the rest to the label.

Most of the time, distributors rely on record labels to send them finished, ready-to-sell products. However, sometimes distributors offer production and distribution (M&D) partnerships. This deal lets the distributor pay for the up-front costs of making an album and keep the money from sales until the initial investment is paid back. ​

During most of the 20th century, distribution companies were the link between record labels and stores that sold music, such as music-only stores, big-box stores like Best Buy and Walmart and bookstores. They were responsible for how music was sold, promoted, and recorded.

Customers bought CDs, cassette tapes, and vinyl albums with the music they liked. Contracts were made between musicians and record labels, and they are still being made. These songs were made with money from the record companies. Deals were made between record labels and distributors so that fans could get copies of albums.

Some distributors sold CDs on consignment, while others bought albums from record labels outright. The same thing happened with retailers. Some decided to buy the albums, while others agreed to take the shipment for their shelves.

Music distributors have had to change their workflow and business models to keep up with the times for more than a century. They made a big difference in music as a whole. From the "period of CDs" before the year 2000 to the current "era of streaming," we continue to use the main way that music is sold to describe the different stages of the industry's development.

How things work with distribution in the digital age

Today, there are tech companies and infrastructures that work well enough to make sure that a song can be released and made accessible to all listeners on the day of release on all streaming platforms (digital service providers) as well as social media apps.

Some platforms, like Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Audiomack and PlaySonus, don't need a distributor because artists can upload their music directly. Other platforms, however, need distributors or aggregators to deal with problems like inconsistent metadata and uneven payouts.

Then, these distributors give the royalties back to the people who own the rights, replacing the old ways to store CDs and get paid. This makes things easier for the DSPs because they don't have to pay the costs of sending royalties to each artist on their platform.

The artists themselves get all of their money from one place instead of from 100 different streaming services at once. DSPs can't listen to everything that label owners, as well as artist managers, send them. But distribution companies can.

In addition to the above tasks, distribution companies can use their power to get songs they've distributed to show up in prominent places on DSPs. A group of editors picks the most popular playlists and feature spots on all platforms. Streaming editorial is in a good position to negotiate with distribution companies, so most of the hard work of trade marketing falls on them.

The Different Kinds of Distribution Companies

1. Main Distributors:

The majors may be the only ones in the music business with a large enough catalog to negotiate with well-known DSPs and get access to their editorial teams on an equal footing.

They don't need a partner in distribution because they sell their music and the music of most distributors and labels. Because of how well-known they are in trade promotion, the majors have had an advantage placed above white independent distributors in making their artists more visible on DSPs.

2. Independent Partners in Distribution:

Independent distributors go up against the affiliates of major companies. They are the top distributors who have stayed independent up to this point. Their ability to work directly with editors at all of the top DSPs and their dedicated staff for consulting and pitching set them above the competition.

Up-and-coming artists must prove they are worth investing in independent access distributors, which are easier to get to than distribution partners with major labels. Deals with highly specialized distribution partners, whether they are independent businesses or large subsidiaries, are always based on percentages. They often give the artist an advance that future money flows will cover.

3. White-label distribution services:

These businesses work with the best independent labels and distributors. They have a fully functional distribution department in-house but don't have the technology to support it. They provide a technical pipeline, focusing on the administrative tasks of the distributor, sending audio and metadata to DSPs, and slicing up revenues back to the rights holders. At the same time, their customers have full control over distribution as well as retail marketing techniques.

4. Platforms/aggregators for open distribution:

The goal of open distribution platforms is to make the long tail of the music business independent. Open platforms usually work based on specific aggregator services, where the distributor charges a set fee per song or album, an annual recurring monthly subscription, or a commission based on a percentage.

In the distribution market, these are the most well-known brands. Some of these businesses also offer high-end services for artists, such as bundles for suggesting playlists, publication management services, radio plugs, physical distribution, and other services. But these services aren't as good as what big distributors or other impartial distribution partners offer.

5. Half-label distribution services:

Even though they work as open distribution networks, these companies are ready to sign a deal like a record label if the music they distribute does well enough. These can include, among other things, small investments in public relations, digital advertising, brand alliances, as well as full-fledged record licensing deals.

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