Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

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fluffy
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Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Postby fluffy » Sat Dec 19, 2015 4:43 pm

The ongoing Spotify discussion makes me realize that we need a thread for collecting clearinghouse information for the least-shitty distribution channels for people to put their music on. So here's my choices:

Direct album sales: Bandcamp is by far the best, both for musicians and listeners. They take the smallest cut of all of the services, they pay the artist up-front (instead of accumulating a "payment threshold" before payment), and listeners can stream and re-download past purchases in perpetuity. They also allow listeners to download in a bunch of formats (including FLAC) and provide the best file metadata anywhere. They also let artists set up a storefront for physical merch (vinyl, T-shirts, etc.), although the artists have to handle their own shipping/fulfillment. The "minus" side is that they only sell on their own platform, which is how they can offer such a good deal to everyone.

Major service placement: DistroKid. They offer a few levels of annual subscription for their distribution service, and all of them are in an all-you-can-eat form. The different tiers provide different feature sets; the lowest tier lets you upload as a single artist name and you have to use DistroKid's label, the middle tier gives you a few artist name slots and lets you use your own label name and gives you more control over metadata (such as release date and ISRC/UPC), and the top tier (intended for record labels) gives you even more label-focused goodness. The pricing is amazing - the top tier gives you full record label access to all the streaming platforms for significantly less than what TuneCore charges for a single album. Fuck TuneCore. Also fuck CDBaby, while we're at it. (Seriously, both of those services are ripping you off.)

Vinyl: I haven't had much luck with these but there's Qrates and Feedbands. Qrates is basically Kickstarter for vinyl, although you can also just pay to have your stuff pressed and fulfilled up-front. Feedbands is more like Woot meets Columbia House, using a voting/lottery system for what they decide to press for that one month. Qrates is more of a sure thing, especially if you're willing to front all the money for the pressing itself and just want to have them do fulfillment. I did some quick back-of-the-envelope pricing and found that Qrates ends up costing about the same as going through any of the normal vinyl pressers after you factor in fulfillment and storage costs. Plus you don't have to deal with giant boxes of vinyl in your tiny apartment.

CDs: CreateSpace is the least-shitty option if you're doing short runs. They only offer one retail package but it covers most peoples' needs for a CD. Pricing is okay, and it gets better if your run is larger (and you can combine multiple albums into a single run to get the bulk pricing without having to do like 100 copies of a single album). Overall it's still more expensive per disc than a pressed run but if you're doing enough sales to be reading this thread, what the fuck are you doing at Song Fight anyway? Anyway they beat the pants off of Discmakers, and they also offer a couple of means of selling your shit directly to customers (both through their own storefront and on Amazon) although they charge a fuckton for that so it's not really worth it.
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fluffy
Ganon
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Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2004 10:56 am
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Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Postby fluffy » Sat Dec 19, 2015 4:57 pm

Oh yeah, forgot to talk about ContentID (automatic sync licensing for YouTube) et al.

There are two approaches you can take: all-or-nothing (traditional label behavior - "put ads on your videos that pay us or remove your video"), and Creative Commons.

For all-or-nothing, AdRev is pretty great. I used to use them for all my stuff as a matter of whatever, and have made more money in recent years through that than through actual direct sales/streams/etc. Which is sad because neither way is that much, but if your music gets popular, it WILL be put on YouTube, and like for some reason people really really like You Believed It Yourself and Come Out for all sorts of inappropriate purposes, so. I'm not fighting it.

But lately I've been moving more of my stuff over to ccMixter and having them administer licensing through a ccPlus license (right now their site is in transition but the actual rights-administration thing is under the TuneTrack name, but that's kind of confusing). This is much more of a remix-culture thing; you upload your mix along with its stems to the site and people can remix it all they like, and then with ccPlus licensing, things that show up on YouTube get paid out to you and everyone else who contributed to the mix, no horrendous takedown messages necessary! It's a win-win for everyone.
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HeuristicsInc
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Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Postby HeuristicsInc » Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:13 pm

Couple of notes: Bandcamp also allows you to supply random "extra" files with downloads, which allowed us to package Matt Howarth's comic .pdf with the Romance in the Mylar Garden album.
Your talk about YouTube made me go over there and search for myself. Turns out CDBaby uploaded videos of my songs there... didn't realize they were doing that. Cool. Also somebody uploaded a random video of Native American dancers combined with one of my songs. That is odd.
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fluffy
Ganon
Posts: 9361
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2004 10:56 am
Instruments: sometimes
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Location: The Plaidlands (also, Seattle)
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Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Postby fluffy » Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:59 pm

Oh, yeah, the "extras" capability is great. I only use it to include more album art (that nobody gives a crap about) but I've seen it used for some interesting stuff. Like comics.

The YouTube stuff is I think an artifact of Google Play, and not something CDBaby/DistroKid/etc. do themselves. Three of my albums are still on CDBaby and two are on DistroKid and all of them get the same crappy treatment there, including the first second or so being ruined because the audio fades in.

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