Updated: Oct 31
Essential questions to ask your digital music distributor:
A digital distribution company is the best option for an artist to get their music online and into stores. Digital music distributors will help you with everything from formatting your release to managing your distribution sales and royalties. They take care of uploading your music onto major stores like iTunes, Spotify and Amazon, but you have to make sure that they're the right fit for you before signing on with them
Is music distribution their primary business?
You should ask your distributor if music distribution is their primary business. If it is, then they should be able to answer this question easily. If not, you should ask why they are distributing your music and what kind of experience they have with digital distribution. They might have a great business model, but if they don’t know much about digital music distribution or they don’t have a large team behind them that does, that might be an issue in the long run.
If you are a new artist, A&R Duty is the best to go with we specialize in digital distribution. We can help you set up your account and get your music on all the major streaming platforms.
Do they take any portion of the sales revenue your music generates from distribution?
One of the most common questions I get from clients is whether or not they can make money from the digital music distributor they distribute with. The answer is yes, but it's not as simple as a 10% commission on sales revenue. The more important question to ask yourself when choosing a digital distributor is "will they take any portion of the sales revenue my music generates?" The answer should always be no; distribution services are paid for by artists themselves via fees that are based on their level of success and/or popularity in order to cover costs associated with providing such services (such as royalties and licensing fees).
While some distributors do offer payouts based on total revenue generated by your catalogue (which we'll discuss below), these are generally reserved for labels who have multiple artists signed under one umbrella company or managers who manage multiple acts. Most individual artists will receive royalty checks once per year, usually paid out over two quarters (i.e., January through March; April through June).
Do they have a dedicated Customer Care team?
The best digital music distributors have a dedicated team that can answer any questions you may have. If you've tried to get in touch with them and they haven't responded, then that's not good. You want to be able to talk to someone who knows what they're talking about whenever something goes wrong with your account or the way your music is being distributed.
Do they have an online help tool so you can easily find answers to questions you might have?
You should be able to find answers to your questions quickly and easily. Your digital music distributor should have a help tool that’s easy to use and understand, whether you need assistance with uploading or downloading music, or just want an explanation of the terms in their contract.
Do they provide guidelines on how to format your release so you have smooth distribution to stores?
The most important thing to know about this is that you need to make sure you have the right artwork, metadata and licensing for the store it will be distributed to. Having the wrong artwork or metadata can result in a delay on your release being sent out by your distributor. You also need to ensure that all of your audio files are encoded at the right quality (for example 44100hz 16bit). This is especially important when uploading music directly through stores like Spotify, which may not accept low quality audio files.
Do they support their artist community?
Do they provide a forum for artists to share their music, upload videos and connect with each other?
Do they provide tools to help you promote your music?
Are there any special promotions or incentives for artists to join their network?
How transparent and detailed is the sales reporting?
“How transparent and detailed is the sales reporting?”
If you want to get as much useful information out of your distributor, you need to ask them this question. The answer will show how much they know about their customers' needs and how far they are willing to go in order to provide them with the best service possible.
Do they offer iTunes trend reports so you can see how your music is selling in stores soon after it goes live?
iTunes trend reports are a great way to see how your music is selling in stores. While it's not uncommon for digital distributors to offer iTunes trend reports, there are some that only give you the option of viewing your sales data in the form of a spreadsheet. If you want easy-to-understand graphs and charts that make sense at glance, go with a distributor whose system offers them.
There are several things to look for when searching for a digital distributor:
How many years have they been in business?
How big is their team?
What kind of experience do they have working with labels like yours?
Do they offer Publishing Administration to help you collect your worldwide songwriter/publisher royalties?
Publishing administration is when a third-party company helps you collect royalties owed to you by the owners of songs that are streamed on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. Why is this important? Because these owners are often difficult to track down and collect payment from, which can be time-consuming and frustrating. The more time you spend chasing down royalties, the less time you have to write new music or perform live!
Why should I have my own publishing administrator?
You get paid faster than if you were doing it yourself
Collecting payments can take months, even years without help from an administrator
A good publisher will know how much money is owed to each songwriter/publisher based on several factors (including where the song was released and how many streams it received)
Do they offer Ringtones?
Ringtones are a special type of sound file that can be used to alert the user of an incoming call or message. It's a small audio file, usually 30 seconds or less in length, which can be heard when someone calls you.
Ringtone files are typically created from music found on CDs or MP3s, though ringtones can also be composed specifically for your use (such as custom ringtones).
If you're looking for a digital music distributor, it's important to do your research and select one that is right for your needs. The best way to do this is by asking the right questions before signing up with them so that you know you're making a good choice. If you have any further questions about how our company works and what we can offer artists in terms of distribution sales reporting, please contact us today!