Chapter 26:Music distribution

dis•tri•bu•tion[dis-truh-byoo-shuh n]. noun. The definition of distribution (as referenced by one random Google Search on a Tuesday evening) is: the action of sharing something out among a number of recipients. "She had it printed for distribution among her friends.”

There are millions of people around the world who make all types of music. On the street corners and subways of New York to a young rapper learning the trade, we’re all dedicated toward perfecting a craft that is making quality material.

Surprisingly enough, there are musicians out there who don’t know they don’t need the support of a major record label to get their music out there. Distribution companies (like Symphonic Distribution) are able to work with you and deliver your music to hundreds of different countries all over the world. Before you start looking for one, however, there are a few important things you need to do prior.

1) Be open-minded and accept feedback.

Being open-minded, establishing a presence and consistently following up are crucial when starting out as a musician. There are millions of record labels and artists that release music every single day. You cannot expect to automatically start making a lot of money because YOU love your music. If you want to make money, you have to make music people enjoy, which requires you to have an open mind and learn how to take criticism. If you’re putting music out there that people don’t like, try doing something different.

3) Be consistent

At the end of the day, if you’re trying to grow as a musician, you’re the one who has to make it happen. Sending emails and not getting a response is inevitable, but consistently following up will help get your name out there. While this is mostly common knowledge, many artists still don’t make an effort to follow up. Music is a fun business, but it is still a business and should be treated as such.

2) Establish a presence

When establishing a presence, create a reputable webpage that showcases your photos, logo and press kit. In addition, include some background information on your sound and what your focus is, and always include contact information throughout the site. Some distributors offer design services to help artists with their online presence, Symphonic Distribution being one of them.

After you do these things, you can begin looking for a music distributor. When trying to find the right one, there are important qualities you should be searching for.

1) Get to know the company & team

First and foremost, the company should have a staff. It’s important to know who is handling your material. Ask the managers questions and talk with staff members in order to get familiar with what they do at the company. The staff should be professional, resilient and ambitious in getting your music heard. The company should also offer good customer support. You should know their company hours and how and when to reach them. If you do reach out to them, a good distribution company will get back to you within 24 hours.

2) What tools & services do they offer?

Another question you should be asking is what kind of technology they have. Are they staying up-to-date with technology trends in the business? Are they monitoring the latest business models and stores? You want a company who has technology that will allow you to track your sales and effectively manage your content. In addition, see if they offer any other services that can potentially help promote your music, such as marketing, licensing, CD pressing, mastering, etc.

3) What control do they have over the music?

It’s also important to know what will happen to your music once it’s in their hands. Do they have control over it? Will they distribute your music to places you aren’t interested in? A good distributor will give you the freedom to choose where your music is going and when. They will also offer flexible rates. Nowadays, a fair percentage is anywhere between 80 percent and 90 percent from royalties. If they’re not flexible with their pricing, it’s probably because of their own costs to operate their business.

4) What are others saying about them?

Lastly, you should see if the company has testimonials. Testimonials are a great way to gauge how their customers feel about them and how they run their business. You should not only read customer testimonials, but should also reach out to some of the people who wrote them in order to get even more information.

At the end of the day, you want a company who will do everything they can to get your material out there and give you the tools you need to grow your brand and expand your music’s reach. Symphonic Distribution are one of a number of companies that deliver an excellent service. The music industry is all about relationships and by developing a strong one with your distributor; you’re up for success. If you can find a company who does that, you’re on the right track!