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The Distribution Maze: Bring a Compass, Part III
By Phil Sommerich
October 31, 2013
The Digital Dance
Source: IFPI Digital Music Report 2013
But streamers are being squeezed by intensifying competition andwidespread artist discontent about royalty levels. A few more stats:
Price: No manufacturing, warehousing, or packaging costs.
Choice: Consumers can buy individual tracks or complete works. Audio quality and data: Once a download disadvantage, several sites now offer CD-quality or, as in the case of the U.K.’s Linn, Studio Master, audio quality. Metadata has also improved and liner notes are usually available.
No touchy-feely: Many consumers miss the tangibility of a CD and the material included in the packaging.
Pricing: Most downloads are sold on a track basis, so it’s 99 cents for two minutes or 10 or more minutes of music. Even sites that sell on a per-second basis charge the same for a solo recital as a choral work or symphony.
Price: For consumers, “all you can eat” deals can be a bargain (for artists, see “cannibalism” below).
Discovery: Streamers tend to listen to a wider range of music, broadening their horizons and the consumer base for genres such as classical.
Revenue: Sites like Pandora and Spotify claim they pay 70-80% of revenue to artists, but artists and indie labels say otherwise. Only the popular artists get big bucks. Sound quality and data: This is not yet a platform for audio enthusiasts or liner note readers.
The Orchard: The biggest, last year took over IODA and Sony Music bought into the business. It refuses to divulge fee structures but usually takes 20-30% fe, some labels can negotiate it down to 10%. ts web site claims ‘‘hundreds of outlets around the world.’’
ReverbNation: Boasts of two million artists, offers options of cellphone app, press kit, 10,000–100,000 fan base, iTunes, Spotify, and 40 more distribution outlets. Percentage take varies widely, depending on the artist’s prominence, annual number of releases per year, number of fans in his email data base, use of the app and press kit options, and much else. Charges the artist between $19.95 and $41.67 per month.
TuneCore: Claims to have ‘‘hundreds of thousands of artists.’’ Albums cost $29.99 first year, $49.99 each following year, singles $9.99 each year, ringtones $19.99 each year, publishing administration. There is a $75 one-time setup fee.
SongCast: 140,000 artists, $19.99 per album or $9.99 per single, plus $5.99 monthly account fee; its distributors are iTunes (111 countries), Google Play (14 countries), Rhapsody (5 countries), Spotify (world), MediaNet (world), Amazon (12 countries), Emusic (U.S., Europe, Canada).
ONErpm: 15,000 artists, 70 stores, one-time fee ranging from free (six stores) to $599 (includes terrestrial radio distribution) plus 15% of royalties.
Word to the wise: Choose carefully. If you switch aggregators, retailers such as iTunes and Amazon will delete past sales data on which they base chart listings. You have to climb back onto the charts through your new aggregator and in the meantime sales may slump.
Australian-born, U.K. resident Phillip Sommerich has been writing about the entertainment and media sectors for nearly 35 years with an emphasis on classical music. He is the recording industry correspondent for Classical Music magazine and has written for Billboard, Music Week, Music & Musicians, BBC Music magazine, the Guardian newspaper, and others.
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