By Forward, May 13, 2021
Throughout history, technology has always found ways to bring people together. The explosion of online music streaming by companies like Spotify has given you access to a worldwide audience with the click of a button completely changing the digital distribution landscape.
Music distribution is the primary link between your label and your future audience.
For every record label, digital distribution is a necessity to reach all your potential music fans. Nowadays smart music distribution has become very easy thanks to platforms like Forward making your music reach as many ears as possible. Plus, it helps you get paid for your music.
So here's everything you need to know about digital music distribution and how to do it right.
How does digital music distribution work?
Traditionally, distributors got records into shops and record labels got people to buy them by promoting their work. Along the way, each of these intermediaries took a percentage of the revenue.
This system still exists to this day, but technology has greatly evolved the role of the music distributor, not to mention the changes brought about by the Internet in the way music is consumed. People spend more time on the internet and spend less money on physical music, hence the importance for record labels to distribute their music with the best digital music distribution platforms.
A physical distributor tends to focus only on major labels that are able to sell a lot of physical records and that's why digital distribution has become the smartest way to get your releases out there, keep all the rights of your music, and start making a name for yourself.
What is music distribution?
Music distribution is the process of getting your songs on shops like Spotify, Apple Music, Beatport, and Amazon Music, as well as social networks like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, ready to be listened to or downloaded.
It also refers to physical distribution (such as selling your records in vinyl shops) or monetizing through services such as YouTube.
Music distribution is done through a music distribution service such as Forward, which helps record labels and artists get their music out into the world. They can be seen as an intermediary between the record label and platforms such as Spotify or Beatport.
How does digital music distribution work today?
As we said before, the aim for digital distributors is to get your music on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and other streaming platforms and digital music shops.
Think of them as a digital music shop: once you have your music there, people can stream, download, and buy your music. In return, you receive royalties based on how and where your music is played.
Like traditional music shops, digital music shops receive music from digital distribution companies. But instead of shipping boxes of vinyl every week, digital distributors deliver digital music to the major music shops we mentioned earlier.
So what used to take weeks or months to ship and manufacture - not to mention a lot of upfront costs - is now as simple and quick as a couple of clicks.
Why do I need a music distribution service?
You might think that a record label can upload their music directly to a streaming platform, just as you would upload a video to YouTube or a file to SoundCloud. However, music publishing comes hand in hand with some complications, such as tracking statistics and royalty payments. All record labels need a distribution service like Forward to release their music properly.
The distribution service basically sends copies of your music and your metadata (titles, cover art, writers, headlines, etc.) to the various music playback services, acting as a central hub for collecting play and royalty data. This means that you can upload a song in a single release and automatically send it to as many retailers as you want. A music distribution service also acts as an intermediary between your pocket and platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube, or Beatport.
Without a distribution service, labels would have to send their release individually to every single outlet and streaming service, which today is practically impossible.
How much does music distribution cost?
At Forward, we only take 15% of the royalties and unlike other music distribution platforms, labels retain 100% of their music rights.
The best music distribution platforms.
There are tons of music distribution services. Keeping 100% of your royalties is key. Try to find out all their fees and the services they offer before you decide.
Forward delivers your music to all the music retailers and streaming platforms that matter, such as Spotify, Beatport, Apple Music, iTunes, Tidal, Amazon Music, Deezer, Napster, Google Music, Shazam, and YouTube.We distribute to over 151 retailers worldwide.
And the best part? Forward, as Lost on You, is the only electronic music distribution platform that donates all the money raised from album sales to help children in the poorest areas of the world. Plus our platform has cutting-edge technology, which means you can upload your song, artwork, and release information in just minutes, all from the palm of your hand, giving you more time for what matters most.... the music!
Once your release is live, you can track your streams, downloads, and audience on a daily basis from within the platform. You can also send music to your favorites artists through our promo pool for feedback, upload your music directly to YouTube and SoundCloud as well as send newsletters to your followers.
From royalty accounting and sales analysis to distribution and promotion, Ampsuite can help you streamline your label management, saving you time and money. Its web-based system allows you to connect securely from anywhere in the world to manage your business on the go.
Kontor New Media is a distributor for music, audiobooks, radio plays, music videos, TV series, and feature films and a certified MCN. Equipped with a database offering streaming analytics, services range from content management & delivery, sales promotion, and marketing to in-depth royalty accounting.
Label Worx offers a wide selection of services designed specifically for independent record labels. Providing a platform that allows you to effectively manage many areas of running a record label, leaving you more time to concentrate on the music. They offer a complete and comprehensive service for independent labels who want their music to be distributed efficiently and professionally in the global music market.
Manual Music is a company that handles management, publishing (in partnership with BMG Talpa Music), digital distribution, and, of course, the release of music on their labels, which offer a wide range of genres within the electronic music scene, from electro-pop and indie electronica to straight-up dancefloor techno.
Proton Sound System is part of the powerful Proton family, which has distribution agreements with 850 labels worldwide.
Label Engine is a global distributor with a complete set of free label features and tools. From accounting and distribution to marketing and demo management, Label Engine allows you to maximize revenue and reach with one easy-to-use platform. Label Engine offers distribution to hundreds of digital retailers worldwide and provides full analytics and monthly payments.
The Orchard is a music distribution company operating in over 40 markets worldwide, offering a full suite of services for artists and labels.
Make sure that, whichever distributor you choose, you do your due diligence first. Google them, look for reviews, contact their customer service, and actually read their terms and conditions. This way, you can familiarise yourself with their services, and you will have a better chance of choosing a partner that is right for you.
At Forward Music Distribution, we have a more personal approach, and we care and work hard so that all the labels we distribute on our music distribution platform can move ahead and succeed.
I hope that now you have a better understanding of what digital distributors do, what motivates them, and above all what motivates us at Forward, we want you to understand what elements are important when determining the right partner and the right deal.
If you liked this article and are ready to distribute your label with Forward, contact us right now and a representative will contact you soon.