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Music Distribution

jeremy | Thursday August 26, 2010

Categories: Music, Music Distribution

Record companies sign artists and record their music often in their own studios such as EMI at Abbey Road, but they do not actually sell the albums. This is done by a distributor.

Distribution is how music gets to the consumer in the form of CDs in shops, or music downloads via the web.

Distribution companies sign deals with record companies, such as Sony BMG or EMI, that give them the right to sell the record company’s labels and other music related items to shops such as HMV or a supermarket or to distribute the artists’ music in other ways such as iTunes.

The distributor takes a cut of income from each CD sold and then pays the record company the remaining balance.

Some distributors receive boxed and labelled CDs from the record companies and their job is to make sure that the albums are available in all their licensed outlets.

A distributor can also do an M&D deal with a label which stands for Manufacturing and Distribution. The distributor pays for all of the manufacturing costs of an album up front, and then keeps all of the income from the album until that initial investment is paid off.

This is the traditional method of distributing the music of artists. In the digital age this method is still relevant but has been turned on its head. We still like to go to record shops or motorway service station shops and buy albums to play in the car, at home or on portable CD players, but not very often. We listen to much much more music in a format like MP3 which has been distributed online. Record companies and music distributors came to this online marketplace much later than young people who buy most popular music so even in 2010 they are trying to catch up.

The big revolution in music distribution is that artists can now distribute their music online in their own way, without needing a record company to record it or a distribution company to get the music to the public.

Distribution in the digital age has come to mean the...

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