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Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 4:43 pm
by fluffy
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.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 4:57 pm
by fluffy
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.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:13 pm
by HeuristicsInc
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.
-bill

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:59 pm
by fluffy
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.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:21 am
by fluffy
For what it's worth I wrote an updated version of this yesterday: https://beesbuzz.biz/articles/1579-Inde ... 19-edition

It's pretty much the same as back in 2015, except now Amazon has changed the name of Createspace to Amazon Manufacturing on Demand.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:26 am
by ujnhunter
Can't believe you posted this originally in 2015... I only heard of DistroKid at the very end of 2017. I agree with Bandcamp & DistroKid as the best services for your music and use them both. The CreateSpace/Amazon Manufacturing on Demand is kind of funny... in that when I originally setup the first Photovoltaik EP for physical CD release thru CreateSpace there were more sellers on Amazon listing it for sale than there were actual sales from CreateSpace itself... which seemed... odd.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:43 am
by fluffy
Yeah there’s a bunch of amazon sellers who inflate their inventory listings for various reasons and they mostly do it by choosing random low-volume items from the catalog and putting on a ridiculous markup so nobody will want to buy it from them.

It’s part of how they game the system, since it both makes them look like bigger sellers and also makes it harder for competitors to keep an eye on their sales and pricing.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 6:46 pm
by fluffy
Oh, incidentally, a few weeks after I posted this I found out about amuse.io, which is like Distrokid except has a better uploader and is completely free (supposedly they work as an A&R thing for a record label and so they give away music store distribution as a means of seeking up-and-coming talent, which doesn't seem sustainable but whatever).

So far I've done one short release through them, although it's only shown up on Spotify so far as I know. Anyway, the process was way easier than DistroKid, and it was free. So, it's worth considering.

They don't provide any of the value-add extras that you can get through DistroKid (like automatic license management or whatever) but there are cheaper ways than what DistroKid charges anyway.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Fri Apr 05, 2019 7:22 am
by ujnhunter
Thanks fluffy... that looks interesting to test out with a few tracks here and there.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 5:01 pm
by fluffy
So far I'm finding that Distrokid is generally better than amuse.io. Amuse is free, but they're also way more limited in where they distribute to and what they can distribute, like they don't even do lyrics. Also they require you to use their heckin' app to see your earnings, don't give you any detailed information about it (just what you earned each month), and provide very poor metadata in general.

Amuse does provide ContentID submission for free, which is nice, but there are free ContentID submission services that also give you better control over things.

I'm probably going to pull my music from Amuse and reupload it on DistroKid.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 6:43 pm
by Pigfarmer Jr
I bought the unlimited DistroKid thing earlier this year on sale. And on the first album upload they said I could pay another 50+ bucks and my music would never be taken down. I assume that means at the end of the year all my shit is gonna have to be re-uploaded or I have to re-up with them. But I haven't dug into it much since I was so pissed off and I'm not doing another release for a month or three.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 6:51 pm
by fluffy
Your DistroKid uploads will be active for as long as you pay the $25/year or whatever. You should never have to re-upload your stuff unless you decide to re-release a better mix or whatever.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 9:32 am
by ujnhunter
I believe that one time fee is for "permanent" distribution... i.e. even if you stop paying your monthly membership or you... die. Your music will live on.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 9:54 am
by fluffy
In my will I'm just gonna stipulate that my gigantic hoard of audio files and mix sessions be uploaded to the web.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:33 pm
by Pigfarmer Jr
fluffy wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 6:51 pm
Your DistroKid uploads will be active for as long as you pay the $25/year or whatever. You should never have to re-upload your stuff unless you decide to re-release a better mix or whatever.
Or you don't pay the yearly fee. Then you have to re-upload it or live without it. Say you take a year off. Say you move to a different service.

Honestly, I was new to the whole distribution thing and saw there were free options and only chose this paid option because I naively thought it was better. And maybe it is. But if it's 50+ bucks on top of a yearly fee I would love to have known that ahead of time. (Yes, I probably should have, but I didn't.)

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:35 pm
by fluffy
yeah the nice thing about amuse.io is it is at least free "forever" (although I somehow doubt they'll last for more than a few years)

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:38 pm
by Pigfarmer Jr
fluffy wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 9:54 am
In my will I'm just gonna stipulate that my gigantic hoard of audio files and mix sessions be uploaded to the web.
https://archive.org/ it is, then.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 10:49 pm
by Caravan Ray
fluffy wrote:
Sat Dec 19, 2015 4:43 pm


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.)
Not quite getting this. I use CD Baby. A long time ago I paid $100 for 10 singles and have been slowly working through that. My 10 singles will be finished soon, so I will consider other options.

Not sure how Distrokid is better.

Distrokid - Paying $20 a year that I have to keep paying every year to keep my songs up on Spotify etc.
vs.
CD Baby - paying a once off $10 a song and having my songs up forever

am i missing something?!?!

(True - I have not been very prolific - I only complete about 1 or 2 songs a year - if i did more I can see there may be a Distrokid advantage)

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 10:57 pm
by fluffy
CDBaby also takes a 30% cut of your earnings. DistroKid pays you 100%. If you release a lot of music and get a lot of listens that adds up fast.

Sounds like you might actually be better off with CDBaby than with DistroKid, but I generally release 1-2 albums a year and I'd rather play a flat fee. (Also DistroKid puts you on more stores and also lets you provide lyrics.)

But once you're done using your CDBaby singles you'd definitely be better off with amuse.io, which charges $0/year and pays you 100% (they make their money elsewhere). I've done a few releases through them now and it's... about on par with CDBaby in terms of quality of service, but way cheaper.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:20 am
by Caravan Ray
fluffy wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 10:57 pm
CDBaby also takes a 30% cut of your earnings. DistroKid pays you 100%. If you release a lot of music and get a lot of listens that adds up fast.

Sounds like you might actually be better off with CDBaby than with DistroKid, but I generally release 1-2 albums a year and I'd rather play a flat fee. (Also DistroKid puts you on more stores and also lets you provide lyrics.)

But once you're done using your CDBaby singles you'd definitely be better off with amuse.io, which charges $0/year and pays you 100% (they make their money elsewhere). I've done a few releases through them now and it's... about on par with CDBaby in terms of quality of service, but way cheaper.
I guess paying $20 per year is the same as doing 2 songs with CD Baby - but it will also provide a bit of motivation to finish at least 2 songs a year

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:24 am
by fluffy
Yeah or, again, you could do amuse.io which is free and just as good as CDBaby.

Basically there's no reason to use CDBaby in this day and age.

Re: Least-shitty distribution and manufacturing channels

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:54 pm
by Caravan Ray
Yes. Amuse.io looks interesting. I will try that next. Thanks