Clients on board of Symphonic Distribution have a lot of offerings, but above all, they have choice. Our clients can choose when they want to deliver their content and where they want to deliver it. That choice is not easily found with our competitors, as some won’t even let clients have a direct account on a partner that the distributor is not delivering to (we call that ridiculous).
As a company, we’ve never been a believer in telling a record label what to do with their content. We will have our way of doing things and have our opinions, of course, but being transparent and customer friendly is one of the reasons we do our best to be a better provider, and through our Content Portal, the system gives the user (a record label) a choice of when and where they want to deliver without any objection from us.
As a company, we work hard to advise our partners. One of our biggest pieces of advice is, “If you limit where you want to distribute your material, you could be limiting the exposure that your brand, artists and music receives.”
Now, before we get started, we do understand some the reasons record labels and artists wouldn’t want their material everywhere. For those who may not know, common fears are that if material is delivered to Spotify or other streaming providers, it may hinder the actual purchased sales on other sites such as iTunes and Beatport. In addition, delivering your music to markets such as Russia or China may spread it out to areas that hinder the material since they are high in piracy, but it is our professional opinion that this mindset is something more of a major record label mindset. Independent/underground record labels need to do everything they can to get their music recognized.
Let’s take it back to the good old vinyl / CD days. Record labels and distributors would do almost anything to sell copies of their physical records to stores all over the place, because not only were they trying to recoup their costs with the pressing and promotion, but they also realized the importance of simply being on that record shelf so that someone potentially picks it up and purchases. The same mindset should be applied today and the best part is that record labels and artists today have LESS risk than the record labels of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.
Back then, record labels would have to shell out 1,500+ per RELEASE to press 1,000+ records or CDs. Today, an artist can make music in the comfort of their home using a laptop, Garage Band and a beer and put it out to the world the very next day. The only cost (in most cases) is the time associated with the production. So with that, what artist wouldn’t want their material heard all over the world?
Let’s look at more facts. Spotify has 20 million members. iTunes (owned by the biggest consumer electronics retailer in the world, Apple) is traded at $700 a share. iHeartRadio doesn’t pay directly but they still have the backing of Clear Channel, the largest radio station network in the US! The list goes on and on. All of those companies are spending millions on marketing their brands and in a time where major record labels are foregoing the physical days and getting as creative as possible and even opening up their material to these said providers.
In looking at Spotify, they have some of the largest artists in the world (Coldplay, Skrillex, MUSE, U2, etc.) If they are doing it, why wouldn’t an independent want to be on board with them? Is it because the sales are low? Yes, it is frustrating that streaming providers don’t pay much, but being on these providers shouldn’t be looked at as a way to make money. How much music is being sold by not being on those brands? From what figures and reports have stated regarding Independent music, not much more is being sold by not being on these providers.
An early assessment by NPD Group analyst Russ Crupnick, shows very little sign that Spotify is hurting sales. In fact, he’s witnessing the opposite: since Spotify arrived in the US in July of 2011, Crupnick has observed that Spotify users are twice as likely to purchase a song download from iTunes or Amazon. “I can tell you that we see Spotify (I’m talking free) users more than twice as likely to be buying digital downloads compared to non-users, and that ratio has not changed since the introduction in Q3 ’11.” -Digital Music News
This is based on a quarterly, music-focused consumer survey that NPD has been conducting since 2001, specifically involving Americans over the age of 13. The company now claims a 95 percent accuracy projection, with the following stats showing up for the second quarter (ending June). 38% of Spotify users report buying a song download in the past 3 months, compared to 17% for non-users. -Digital Music News
With technology and music evolving daily, new providers will launch and some won’t even provide payment to artists or record labels but what they may provide is a way of promoting their material in ways that have never been thought about. At the end of the day, we’re in the business of getting our music out there (by we, we mean record labels, artists, distributors) and a business truly looks for as many ways as possible to put their brand name out there.
So we end with this: Be a business, get creative, put quality product out there, do your best and, in our opinion, don’t limit where your music is delivered to because you just may be limiting the exposure you receive which may impact your overall bottom line.