Hi, I’m back from NYC APAP, Jazz Connect Conference, Winterfest, and two APAP Showcases. Getting a little caught up with promotions, advertisements, bookings, and filling distribution POs. The latter got me thinking about the current debates about physical distro and online distro. Recently I got an email from the wonderful podcaster, Mark Stevens and his Piano and All That Jazz Podcast. In it he shared an overview by Steven Cravis, an experienced musician and very knowledgeable expert on online distribution and marketing. I don’t think I could have written it any better myself so I would like to share his message with you. Hope you enjoy!
Steven Cravis has been at the forefront of online music distribution and marketing for twenty years and is more knowledgeable on the subject than anyone I know. Here is a recent correspondence from him to me and, if you are an independent music professional, you will find his message of great value.
Someone asked about the differences of music services for selling music online, so I wrote the following, thought I’d pass it on to you in case you want to share it with your network of musicians who might be interested:
In the following info I’m going to describe, keep in mind there are two main parts of the business that some of these companies offer: 1. Digital Distribution, like getting your music files and album art to a wide variety of stores including iTunes, Google Play, Amazonmp3, Spotify, etc.. and 2. The option to have the company administer your publishing, which involves registering your song titles for you as songwriter/composer AND publisher (with either your own publishing name, via BMI, ASCAP or SESAC etc..) and collecting the publishing half of directly from those companies and then giving you about 85 – 90% (I can’t remember the latest percentages that CD Baby publishing ‘Pro’ or Tunecore publishing adm in take). So in addition to receiving sales (download and stream) income for songs, you could also potentially collect extra income from publishing related royalties. Keep in mind, if you already register, or want to register your own song titles directly with one of the PRO (Performing Rights Organizations) you can start or keep doing that. CD Baby and Tunecore may be collecting extra beyond what you could collect on your own through a PRO, because they know how to capture payments for international mechanical interactive streaming royalties. NOTE: With CD Baby’s ‘Pro’ service ( http://www.cdbaby.com/pro ) you can have them administer your publishing, while you don’t have to be opted into their ‘sync’ licensing with Rumblefish. With Tunecore’s publishing admin, I’m pretty sure you still HAVE to be locked into their exclusive licensing, if your songs are in their publishing administration services. http://www.tunecore.com/songwriters
My recommendation is, whatever you choose for distribution of your songs, for selling music online, WAIT regarding decisions to agree to any publishing contracts.
I’d also recommend you weigh your options regarding distribution: They’re all quite good. For CD Baby or Tunecore, I don’t recommend using their publishing administration options (this is totally separate from the distribution – itunes, spotify, amazonmp3, google play etc..- services they offer). CD Baby’s publishing is over priced, and while their sync licensing option, working with Rumblefish, is non-exclusive, I don’t think Rumblefish really cares about individuals. Tunecore’s publishing admin team, especially Jamie Purpora the president of Tunecore publishing, is very well versed in the industry, and knowing what they’re doing, but I believe they still lock you into ‘exclusive’ licensing, meaning, you can’t license (for film, tv, etc..) through both them, and some other entity. If you are willing to commit to this for the duration of a publishing contract, then you might be okay with Tunecore’s publishing service. I don’t like the limitation. For example, while I was in mid term of my publishing agreement, Tunecore changed the licensing terms to exclusive, and I, out of loyalty at the time, canceled my agreements with GettyImages music, and others. Now that I’ve ended my Tunecore publishing contract, it’s taking forever to re-establish my works with GettyImages and others, because there’s just a long processing time, and that was a bit damaging for me, in terms of wasted, lost time.
DISTRIBUTION OPTIONS – Choose one of the following for each, or all albums:
1. http://members.cdbaby.com/digital-distribution is excellent and they take 9% of all your store/download or stream sales. They will charge you (about $20 I think) extra for a barcode if you don’t have one for each CD or single title. CD Baby doesn’t charge anything additional after your initial distribution fees are paid, ever. So even if they add future stores, you’ll automatically be sent to the new stores that become available. Support is extensive.
2. http://www.tunecore.com/index/sell_your_music does a good job on music distribution, and is the best on sales reporting display (fast/efficient), doesn’t take ANY percent of your sales, but will charge you yearly renewal fees for every single or album you release. Make sure, on each album you distribute with Tunecore that you opt into their $10 every-future-store option. This will make sure that if they add additional stores in the future, you’ll automatically be sent. Support is extensive.
3. http://distrokid.com/ is very good, but doesn’t have as many stores yet. I recommend the $79 per year option, so that you can include your Label name (and if you ever have a variety of artist names, I think you can include more (like if you collaborated and listed both names, or had a special band project). If you don’t want to show a label name on music sale sites (like itunes, google play etc..) then you can pay the $20 per year option. Things I love about Distrokid: I can release unlimited singles, albums, all for the one low yearly fee, I’ll be paid in full 100%, but minus the small Paypal transaction fee. While Distrokid has the fewest stores right now, they have some of the most important ones, and every time they add new ones, you can have your music sent, but you have to manually go in and click to add whatever new stores are available, only takes a few seconds, per album. Distrokid is VERY fast. I released this for January 1, 2015, last night, and within minutes, I got an email saying that it’s already (pre-order view, 30 second clip) showing on http://www.amazon.com/One-Destiny-Modern-Wedding-March/dp/B00RGBXE5O ! Their support is minimal, but usually helpful and gets right to the point of any question or issue.
Youtube is a really important component of monetizing your music now. There are two aspects to understand:
1. You can monetize your music if people play it in their own YouTube videos, like they edited it in as background music, through either Tunecore’s ‘YouTube Money’ option, CD Baby’s ‘Sync Licensing’ option, or external companies (as long as you don’t sign up for publishing admin already through CD Baby or Tunecore or anyone for those songs) such as Audiam.com , AdRev.com , etc..
2. Separately, YouTube has just launched something called YouTube Music Key, and it functions like Spotify, a streaming service where you can make your own playlists or listen to any song of your choice, but it’s based on still ‘art track’ videos, where there’s an image of the album art, and the services (such as Tunecore, Distrokid or CDbaby deliver your album art and your .wav files to YouTube. Then a topic page appears, for the artist, kind of like this: http://www.tinyurl.com/ytmusickey
IMPORTANT: If you’re going to want CD Baby to deliver your files to Music Key, you must also be in CD Baby’s sync licensing option.
If you are going to want Tunecore to deliver to Music Key, you can opt into it as part of their regular store digital distribution.
What I personally love about YouTube Music Key is that now, even if someone is only on their smart phone, or has no music software installed on their computer, almost everyone these days has access to YouTube, so I can text or email to them, for example, ‘hey listen to this new Reggae song I wrote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jub8GaeQ1xk ‘ and in the long run, I’ll be being paid for every stream play of that song.
Make sure you sign up for Soundexchange http://www.soundexchange.com/artist-copyright-owner/registration-membership/ This organization collects for, and pays you as a ‘featured artist’ and ‘label (or Repertoire Owner/Sound Recording owner) for non-interactive royalties that occur on services like Sirius XM, iHeart Radio etc.. Non-interactive refers to when a broadcast playlist is playing and the listener cannot choose what song is next, or go back and play the last song, etc.. So to clarify; your distribution service you choose (such as Distrokid, or CD Baby or Tunecore) gets your music to some, but not all, of the services that Soundexchange receives payments from, for you. Some services, like http://www.Pandora.com you’d have to submit your music on your own, after you already have the music available online for sale, for example by submitting here: http://submit.pandora.com
Pianist | Composer | Producer | Online Web Marketing