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MUSIC DISTRIBUTION for labels:
How to start a successful independent record label.

Best music distribution for independent labels

For independent artists and smaller labels, it can be challenging to reach a broader audience with their music. However, starting your own record label to distribute your music can be a great option. It gives you more control and opportunities over your work.

Do you feel the need to create your own independent label and unveil fantastic music to the world? Trust me, it's an exciting journey that opens up a whole new realm of possibilities! If you're into electronic music, like me, getting your tracks onto streaming platforms such as Beatport and Juno can be a game-changer. After all, music downloads make up 1/3 of my label income, so it's worth it.

You may be wondering if starting your own label is as complicated as building a spaceship or taming a wild lion? No worries, it's much more straightforward than that! All you need is a tax ID, an impressive label logo, and a roster of talented artists you believe in (or just your own music).

When it comes to choosing a music distribution company that offers label services, you've got plenty of options. Personally, I use the independent music distribution service provided by "Fortyfymusic," and it's been an amazing experience so far. They have all the tools and support you need to get your label off the ground. There are costs involved, but don't worry, I can explain it more clearly.

In most cases, distributors take a percentage of your earnings, usually around 20% to 30%. However, there are also alternative options where you pay a fixed amount each year. It all depends on what works best for you.

From my experience, starting my own label was definitely worth it. The sense of control and creative freedom have been incredibly fulfilling. So, if you're considering starting your label, go for it!

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Music Distribution for Independent Labels

Independent Music distribution is getting your music onto streaming platforms, online stores, and physical stores. A music distributor is a company that helps you get your music onto these platforms and handles the logistics of distribution.

music distribution labels

HOW TO START A RECORD LABEL

Are you a music producer who dreams of releasing your own tracks or managing a label that makes it to the Top 100 charts? 

If so, knowing how to distribute your music effectively and reach your target audience is important. Music distribution involves getting your music onto streaming platforms, online stores, and physical stores, and a music distributor is the company that can help you with that process. 

In this post, I'll guide you through everything you need to know about music distribution for independent labels. 

  • You'll learn how to assess your distribution needs, 

  • find the best music distributor for your genre, 

  • review distribution deals, test your distributor, 

  • monitor performance

  • build a strong relationship with your distributor. 

By following these steps, you'll be able to start a successful independent record label in 2023 and grow your fan base.

Determine Your Distribution Needs

When searching for the best label music distributor, starting by determining your distribution needs is crucial. Do you need to distribute your music on streaming platforms and download shops exclusively, or would you like to sell physical copies such as vinyl, CDs, or tapes as well? 

Do you require assistance with marketing and promotion? Answering these questions can help you narrow down your search for a distributor.

Do you want to concentrate on digital distribution only, as most of your followers will listen to your music online? On the other hand, if you produce music for selling physical copies as well, since some of your fans may prefer to collect them.

Similarly, you may not require much assistance with marketing and promotion if you have a sizable following on social media or an email list. However, if you're just getting started or want to reach out to new audiences, you may benefit from some extra support from your distributor.

Find the Best Music Distributor for Your Genre

Once you have determined your distribution requirements, it's time to research potential distributors. Search for distributors specialising in your music genre, have a credible reputation in the industry, and offer the necessary services you require. Additionally, you can ask other record label owners for their recommendations.

For instance, if you produce electronic music, you should look for distributors that cater to this specific niche and can provide you with access to top-rated download stores such as Beatport, Juno, DJ Tunes, Whatpeopleplay, Trackitdown, or Traxsource, which are the market leaders in the electronic music industry. 

These stores cater to a broad range of electronic music enthusiasts and DJs and include various sub-genres such as techno, house, tech house, minimal electronica, disco, downtempo, deep house, bass house, and more.

Review Distribution Deals

When searching for a distributor that caters to your needs and demands, it is essential to take time to examine their distribution agreements. 

Focus on agreements that offer unbiased revenue sharing and avoid being tied down to lengthy contracts. It is also necessary to review the distributor's terms and conditions to ensure they align with your business objectives. 

For instance, some distributors may charge a fixed fee per release or a percentage of your revenue. Additionally, some may ask for exclusivity or impose minimum sales quotas. Some may also offer supplementary services such as playlist pitching, sync licensing, or YouTube monetisation. 

You must understand all the terms before signing a distribution agreement. You should compare different distributors and choose the one that provides the most value for your investment.

Test the Distributor

Before entering into a long-term distribution agreement, it is a prudent business practice to conduct a test run with your potential distributor. This will enable you to evaluate how the distributor operates and determine if they fit your record label properly. You can consider signing a long-term agreement if the test release performs well.

When testing the distributor, there are several factors to consider, including their speed of delivering your music to the platforms, accuracy with metadata and artwork, transparency in reporting and payments, responsiveness to feedback and inquiries, and effectiveness in marketing and promotion. 

As such, assessing these factors during the test run is wise to ensure that you make an informed decision.

Monitor Performance

Monitoring their performance becomes crucial once you have signed a long-term deal with a distributor. It is imperative to keep track of your music's sales and streams and ensure you receive the revenue you owe. If you are dissatisfied with your distributor's performance, you should reconsider your partnership. 

Several tools are at your disposal to monitor your music's performance. For instance, Databox is a dashboard tool that can help you track your music's performance across multiple platforms and metrics. 

Chartmetric is a music analytics tool that enables you to analyze your music's performance on charts, playlists, radio, social media, and more. 

Additionally, Soundcharts is a music intelligence tool that can help you monitor your music's performance on streaming platforms, social media, radio, and more.

Build a Relationship

Developing a solid partnership with your music distributor is crucial for achieving long-term success in the industry. Regularly communicate with your distributor and keep them informed of any changes or updates to your music. Establishing a good connection with your distributor can open up opportunities for your record label to reach new heights.

To form a solid relationship with your distributor, consider the following steps:

  • Share your vision and goals with them

  • Seek their feedback and advice

  • Show appreciation for their support and service

  • Promote them on your website and social media platforms

  • Recommend their services to other record labels and artists.

Top Record Label Distributors

Below is a curated list of label music distribution services - These trusted providers have helped countless labels find their footing in the industry:

Fortyfymusic:

This digital media distributor and YouTube MCN is based in Hamburg, Germany. It does not charge a fee for its distribution service but takes a 20% share of the label sales generated through it1. It has a 4.8 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot, based on 17 reviews.

Labelworx:

This label services company offers distribution, accounting, promotion and demo management for independent labels. It works on a commission basis and takes a small percentage of the royalties collected from the stores. The commission varies depending on the size and turnover of the label, as well as the tools and services required. It has a 2.9 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot, based on 3 reviews.

Label Engine:

This is a distribution and music services company that delivers music to hundreds of stores worldwide. It charges a 17.5% fee from the distribution royalties and 20% of the YouTube content ID revenues. It offers free access to its promotion, accounting and demo management tools. It has a 3.4 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot, based on 5 reviews.

Absolute Label Services:

This independent label services company provides digital and physical distribution, marketing, direct-to-consumer operations, administration and promotion across streaming and radio. It was acquired by Utopia Music in February 2022 but reacquired by its original owners in July 2023. The terms and costs of its services are not publicly disclosed, but it claims to offer bespoke release strategies for its clients. It does not have a Trustpilot profile.

DigDis:

This is a digital music distributor that guarantees the best possible conditions and placements for its clients at download and streaming portals such as iTunes, Apple Music, Beatport, Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube, Amazon, Traxsource, Deezer, Pandora, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and others. It does not charge any fee for its distribution service but takes a 30% share of the label revenues generated through it. It has a 2.9 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot, based on 2 reviews10.

Stem Music:

This music distribution platform allows artists and labels to upload their music to Spotify, Apple Music, TikTok and other streaming services. It also provides payment splitting, data analytics and marketing tools. It charges a 5% fee from the streaming revenues and a $0.99 monthly fee per track after the first year11. It has a 4.6 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot, based on 14 reviews.

Triple Vision:

This is a physical and digital distributor that specializes in electronic music genres such as techno, drum & bass, dubstep and house. It offers vinyl pressing, CD manufacturing, merchandise production and online store services. It also delivers music to major download and streaming platforms such as Beatport, Spotify, and iTunes. The costs and terms of its services are not publicly disclosed, but it claims to offer competitive rates and flexible deals. It does not have a Trustpilot profile.

Horus Music:

This is a global music distribution and label services company that delivers music to over 200 digital platforms worldwide. It also offers playlist pitching, sync licensing, radio plugging, social media management and other marketing services. It charges an annual fee for releasing music as a Label. The fee ranges from £30 to £300. It has a 4.7 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot, based on 131 reviews.

Dancephonic:

This digital music distributor focuses on dance genres such as house, techno, trance and electro. It delivers music to over 300 online stores and streaming platforms such as Beatport, Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon. It charges a one-time setup fee of €25 per release and takes a 20% commission from the net sales. It does not have a Trustpilot profile.

Ampsuite Distribution:

This cloud-based software solution offers distribution, royalty accounting, licensing and promotion services for independent labels. It delivers music to over 200 digital platforms such as Beatport, Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube. It charges a monthly subscription fee depending on the number of releases managed by the label. The fee ranges from £29 to £199 per month. It does not have a Trustpilot profile.

Symphonic Distribution:

This digital music distributor delivers music to over 200 digital platforms worldwide such as Spotify, Apple Music, TikTok, and YouTube. It also offers playlist pitching, sync licensing, publishing administration and other marketing services. It charges a one-time setup fee of $25 per release and takes a 15% commission from the net sales. It has a 4.5 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot, based on 113 reviews.

Fuga:

This is a technology and services company that offers distribution, rights management, analytics and marketing solutions for independent labels. It delivers music to over 260 digital platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and Amazon. The costs and terms of its services are not publicly disclosed, but it claims to offer flexible and transparent deals. It does not have a Trustpilot profile.

Roba:

This music publisher and distributor offers digital and physical distribution, sync licensing, royalty collection and administration services for independent labels. It delivers music to over 200 digital platforms, such as Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and Amazon. The costs and terms of its services are not publicly disclosed, but it claims to offer fair and individual deals. It does not have a Trustpilot profile.

LabelGrid:

This cloud-based platform offers distribution, promotion, analytics and label management tools for independent labels. It delivers music to over 150 digital platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Beatport, and YouTube. It charges a monthly subscription fee depending on the number of releases the label manages. The fee ranges from $9 to $99 per month. It does not have a Trustpilot profile.

I hope this information helps you find the best record label distributor for your needs.

 

If you need help with Mastering Techno or Mixing House Music, please check these links.

I am Marcus, a music enthusiast who runs a mixing and mastering business. Additionally, I compose insightful articles for my blog and produce music as a member of the techno duo Agravik.
Marcus
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