Five demands to stick to when choosing a distributor

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As an artist, you should be able to move to a different digital distributor at any given time. You may find another distributor offering a better deal, or you may simply want a change. Increasingly though, it has become commonplace for artists to become stuck in deals with distributors and has often been difficult for those artists to break free and broaden their options. When enlisting anyone external to aid you in distributing your music, it is vitally important to ensure that you are clear on what you expect from them early on. Before any contract is signed, both parties should be completely certain of what they can expect. We’ve taken a closer look at exactly what you should demand of your digital distributor.

A music distributor acts as the middleman between you/your label and streaming platforms etc. in exchange for a proportion of your revenue. It is their job to sell your music, connecting with consumers by putting your music on major platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, and Beatport. Some of the world’s leading music distributors are; LANDR, CD Baby, TuneCore, Ditto Music, Loudr, Record Union, MondoTunes, and Reverbnation. As you can see, there is a huge array of options out there, making choosing a distributor even more difficult. The plus is, you can always change your mind. Although it may be a difficult process, you can always change to a different distributor down the line if the one you have chosen isn’t working for you. However, changing your distributor can be a hassle, so making the right choice will save you time and effort in the long run. It is highly beneficial to do extensive research before even sitting down with a distributor, find out which other artists and labels they represent and get in touch with them. Ask them whether they are happy with the service provided by the distributor and save yourself hassle in the long run. Speaking to those already signed up with that particular distributor can be an eye-opening insight into what they can really offer you. You may find that although a distributor sells themselves well, in reality, their offering doesn’t reach expectations. But what are the key demands you should make when enlisting a digital distributor?

The assets belong to you – the client

Firstly, you should be clear with your chosen distributor that the assets completely belong to you. Should you decide to part ways with them, you will need to know that the transfer of assets will be seamless. Making this clear from the outset is vitally important in order to ensure your position is secure. Any professional distributor should be willing to offer an export service for you if you decide to part ways with them. Setting this expectation from the outset ensures that you have full control over your assets.

Data transparency

Another important quality to demand from your digital distributor is full data transparency. In order to maintain a healthy business relationship, it is vital that both parties share data with honesty and transparency. To ensure that you can fully trust your digital distributor, it is important that they disclose all of your data fully, and in real time. You should consistently have full access to details of your earnings in real time and should be able to expect quick payment. Without this transparency, it is impossible to maintain a fruitful and positive relationship with your digital distributor.

Breakage payments

Another aspect to consider when enlisting a digital distributor is breakage payments. Digital breakage simply means the monetary difference between the guaranteed royalty revenue owed to a label, and the royalties accrued during the course of usual business. Distributors should be willing to divide this revenue between clients and should not hold on to it themselves. This is a vital aspect to clarify before entering into a deal, as losing out on breakage payments could be a huge loss of revenue.

DSP IPO payments

It is also vital to ensure that your digital distributor of choice will distribute DSP IPO payments to the client. Any revenue gained from these payments should be equally divided among artists, not held by the distributor. This is another highly vital aspect of your deal with your distributor as often there will be a large amount of revenue at stake. It is important not to be caught out down the line, so ensure to clarify this aspect of the deal before contracts are signed.

Check the small print

Finally, you should make sure to clarify all of the terms and conditions before entering into a contract with your distributor. Ensure that there are no hidden clauses in the small print that could affect you negatively. As the artist, your needs should be the priority, there are plenty of distributors to choose from, it should be their job to impress you rather than the other way around. If there are any issues, make sure to mend them before signing the contract, to save any massive problems down the line. The worst thing you can do as an artist is miss the small print and accidentally sign yourself up for a deal that you are unhappy with.

In order to build a prosperous relationship with your distributor, it is vital to make sure that they are meeting each of these demands. Setting boundaries from the outset ensures that there won’t be even bigger problems down the line, and gives you the security of knowing exactly what to expect. Choosing a distributor is a decision that should not be taken lightly, so make sure to clarify exactly what the deal is before you sign the contract.