The 10 most important things to look for when choosing a music distributor

I’ve been researching the distributor space lately and watching with interest as more pop up and margins get squeezed. It’s got to a place now where you can actually distribute music for free. But what else should you be looking for other than a pipeline? I’ve spoken to a lot of artists and record labels and put together the following list of what I think is important to look out for when deciding on what distributor to choose. If I’ve forgotten anything please let me know in the comments below.

P.S. These are what I consider the absolute essential services, there are lots more add ons that some distributors offer and I’ll maybe cover in a future post.

  1. Distribute to all of the major platforms globally – by that I mean the obvious ones like Spotify etc but also Tencent, Anghami, Saavn, Pandora, KKBox, iHeartRadio etc.
  2. Awesome reporting – at the very minimum you want stats that are updated monthly. However some distributors offer stats updated daily or weekly which is helpful.
  3. Regular payments – again you want a minimum of monthly payments but some distributors update your account multiple times a month when payments come in from the DSP’s, and you can withdraw cash at any time.
  4. Support – a real person at the end of the phone is best but a real person you can email is a close second. Failing that a support ticket system that is answered in hours (not days) is sufficient.
  5. Songwriter & producer credits – now that Spotify support the publication of these credits it’s important you’re distributor does too.
  6. Splits – the ability to give stakeholders a percentage of revenue a song makes and have the distributor pay them directly. For example, you may want to give the producer 5%, if you can find a distributor who can handle these payments directly for you it can be a huge time saver.
  7. Shazam – want your music to be discovered if it’s heard in a club/radio etc. Make sure your distributor uploads the song to Shazam.
  8. Instagram/Facebook stories – OK nobody uses Facebook stories but a lot of people use Instagram stories so the ability to have your music available in the background of an Insta story is a fantastic way to grow your audience and get your music heard.
  9. YouTube Content ID – make sure you’re music is uploaded to the YouTube Content ID system so that if another YouTube channel uses it you can monetise it if you want to. Or you can let the channel use your song for “exposure”. Key is to be informed though so you can decide.
  10. Longevity – when I asked the good people on Twitter about what they look for in a distributor a few said longevity. I feel that people are worried that there are so many distributors cropping up and so much VC money sloshing around that there will either be some that flame out and fade away or get acquired and shut down etc. So maybe do some research into who the guys are that have been around for a while and have some history.

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