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I’ve been researching the music distribution space lately and watching with interest as more pop up and margins get squeezed. It’s got to a place now where you can actually distribute music for free. But what else should you be looking for in a distributor other than a pipeline?

I’ve spoken to many artists and record labels and put together the following list of what I think is important to look out for when deciding on what distributor to choose.

  1. Distribute to all of the major platforms globally – By that I mean the obvious ones like Spotify but also Tencent, Anghami, Saavn, Pandora, KKBox, iHeartRadio etc.
  2. Awesome reporting – At the very minimum you want stats that are updated monthly. However some distributors offer stats updated daily or weekly which is helpful.
  3. Regular payments – You want a minimum of monthly payments but some distributors update your account multiple times a month when payments come in from the DSP’s, and you can withdraw cash at any time.
  4. Support – A real person at the end of the phone is best but a real person you can email is a close second. Failing that a support ticket system that is answered in hours (not days) is sufficient.
  5. Songwriter & producer credits – Now that Spotify support the publication of these credits it’s important your distributor does too.
  6. Splits – The ability to give stakeholders a percentage of revenue a song makes and have the distributor pay them directly. For example, you may want to give the producer 5%, if you can find a distributor who can handle these payments directly for you it can be a huge time saver.
  7. Shazam – You want your music to be discovered if it’s heard in a club/radio etc. Make sure your distributor uploads the song to Shazam.
  8. Instagram/Facebook stories – OK nobody uses Facebook stories, but a lot of people use Instagram stories so the ability to have your music available in the background of an Insta story is a fantastic way to grow your audience and get your music heard.
  9. YouTube Content ID – Make sure you’re music is uploaded to the YouTube Content ID system so that if another YouTube channel uses it you can monetize it if you want to. Or you can let the channel use your song for “exposure.”  The key is to be informed so you can decide.
  10. Longevity – When I polled people on Twitter about what they look for in music distribution, a few said longevity. I feel that people are worried that there are so many distributors cropping up and so much VC money sloshing around that there will either be some that flame out or get acquired and shut down. Do some research into who has been around for a while and have some history.

P.S. These are what I consider the absolute essential services, there are more add ons that some distributors offer and I’ll maybe cover in a future post.

UK-based Kieron Donoghue is an ex-warner Music exec, the founder of Topsify, Playlists.net, Artists To Watch Records and Humble Angel Records. He last wrote for DJ Times about how DJ/producers can get their music on Spotify playlists.


He blogs here.

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