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Let’s talk Digital Distributors / Aggregators

11 June 2020 | Music Comp

When you are on a label, they will likely do the distributing of your release on your behalf, but if you are releasing as an Independent you can distribute your music globally using a Digital Music Distributor (also known as a Digital Music Aggregator). This is your best shot at getting global streams on platforms like Spotify, Apple, Deezer and YouTube Music and there are a number of decent Distributors to choose from, but do your research.

We have put together a list of some of the key things to consider when looking for a Distributor/Aggregator that will work for you. Note that before you get to this point you should have a clear plan for your release and have prepared your files and metadata; refer to our blog post Planning Your Next Release.

Structure

  • are they based in Australia and as such on a similar time zone for support?
  • will you have an allocated team member to work with?
  • do their values resonate with you?

Fees

  • compare costs and make sure you are aware of any added fees/upsells that may be incurred.
  • are fees upfront or % based? While an upfront fee may appear more appealing, it’s important to consider that a % based may see the Distributor more inclined to work hard on your project, as they receive financial incentive for doing so.

Term

  • is there a minimum term contract?
  • will you incur penalties if you remove your music before the contract term ends?

Copyright

  • ideally you want to retain 100% of copyright ownership of your music, especially as an Independent Artist
  • if they are asking to negotiate this, do some research about sound recording and mechanical rights before you sign anything
  • the APRA AMCOS website as a good starting point if you need some advice on copyright (plus heaps of other stuff)

Synchronisation and Publishing

  • are they asking for sync rights and if so, exactly what rights are you handing over?
  • what benefit would you get in return for handing over those rights?
  • would they hold exclusive rights or could you still sync your catalogue elsewhere?
  • are you a member of an association which is already collecting your Sync Royalties (eg APRA AMCOS)

Delivery Time

  • can they deliver for your release date? It is generally good practice to upload and setup your distribution at least 2 weeks before your release date but some may require more.

Serviced Platforms

  • how many stores and platforms are included in the deal and are they relevant to your style and genre?
  • which countries will your music be delivered to?
  • do they service the stores and platforms that you identified in your goals? If not, will they do so for additional fees?

‘PRO’ Services

  • are they offering ‘Performance Royalty Organisation’ (PRO) services to collect your Publishing Royalties? If so, what will it cost you?
  • are you a member of an association which is already collecting your Publishing Royalties (eg APRA AMCOS) for a part of your membership fee or at no cost?

Monetising Content

  • are they offering to monetise user-generated content on YouTube, SoundCloud and/or Facebook? If so, is it included in the deal or at an additional fee?
  • do some research around setting this up yourself, or if you would benefit from the Distributor doing it on your behalf.

Need some help with the legal speak? Arts Law is a great place to find legal resources plus The Copyright Council has some great info.

Let’s talk Digital Distributors / Aggregators